Riding with ‘Ratboy’ (and friends)

Twas a rainy afternoon in Wellington, just past four, when we set off from Dirt Merchants 60 boys ‘n’ girls or more. It sounds poetic and it was.

When you hear that Josh ‘Ratboy’ Bryceland, Cedric Gracia, Jamie Nicol and all their mates are coming to town for a ride and beer, it’s something you don’t pass up on.

The Crew

We all ride our local trails and think ‘damn I’m fast’ but if you compare yourself with the pros – you realise what these guys are capable of.

Seeing ‘Ratboy’ huck over one of the metal road barriers, seeing the Santa Cruz Crew hitting a hip jump blind and whipping it straight off. Makes you realise why these guys get paid for riding.


Cedric Gracia: Red Bull Rampage winner: knows how to get air

I was lucky enough to be riding behind a mere living legend on my way up to the top of Pol Hill. The first corner into ‘Car Parts’ Cedric Gracia effortlessly slide round it like he’d done it a thousand times. He is a gracious gentleman who was appreciative of our trails and the views that they offer (although rain hampered that to some degree), but when he’s in the presence of the group and when riding he has a twinkle in his eye and a skip in his step: the tale tale signs of a Red Bull Rampage winner.

Cedric Gracia once in-famously crashed and severed his femoral artery, whilst practicing for Megavalanche race in the Reunion Islands. He survived through his quick reactions to stem the bedding by grabbing hold of the ends of his artery and getting his mate to kneel on it whilst medical help arrived.

Enough said  I was star struck and stoked to meet the man.

I have to say though, Wellington’s Groms are on their way up and were every bit as impressive to watch as the stars. Whilst everyone embarked on drinking beers at the pub, Ratboy set off with the young fellas for more riding up Mt Vic, so he must have been impressed too.

Pirate trails – “no prey, no pay”

Pirates in the 17th century who committed acts of robbery or criminal violence at sea used have a phrase, “no prey, no pay”. It essentially meant that if you weren’t successful in a robbery or raid you wouldn’t get paid. It led to pirates going after bigger and more risky booty.

To many pirate trails, trails built without the express permission of the land owner, offer a reward far greater than anything else in mountain biking: harder, more technical lines, bigger drops all un-groomed and unadulterated.

The reality is to get better you need harder trails, something which is not always a priority among trail builders.

Sure there are valid reasons for and against pirate trails, but we shouldn’t get caught up in the petty arguments of a minority. The fact is we need people digging pirate trails. We need people telling us why they’re bad and we all need progress.

Without pirate trails and without folk riding them there would be no just cause to argue for tracks to be built in new areas.

So, I say, provocatively, It’s often better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission

Keep digging…