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Trip Report: An Uplift day at Hopton, Shropshire

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We all love to rip up the trails in any way possible, this passion of ours is all about one main thing, to ride our bikes in the best and most fun way possible. So what better way to up your game, be it for racing or just plain shredding with your mates, than an uplift.

Josh Lewis, one of his last rides on the Cotic, pre Santa Cruz signing

Josh Lewis, one of his last rides on the Cotic, pre Santa Cruz signing

Here in Shropshire we are lucky to have a few places these uplifts are held, organised by the Ludlow based friendly shop crew from Pearce Cycles, coming equipped with Land Rovers and custom built trailers, perfect for the job of ferrying the riders up the steep and often rough fire-roads to the drop-off point at the top. These guys have been doing this and organising races for as long as I can remember and their organizational skills are just perfection.

Room for a fast one!

Room for a fast one!

On arrival to this little local event deep in the hills of South Shropshire near the tiny village of Hopton, I was quite surprised as to who had graced us with their presence. None other than Santa Cruz’s Josh Bryceland and his mates had made the trip down to ride with (freshly signed to Team Saracen) Matt Simmonds, no way, I thought this was just going to be a local affair! I suppose that’s what’s so great about MTB, it would be like going for a local game of soccer, only to find you were kicking the ball around with a premiership star!

Ratboy himself

Ratboy himself

So what are the benefits of an uplift? Well several if you really break it down, compared to your average trail ride or Enduro race weekend. First of all with runs being pretty fast and furious and lifts running all day, you have lots of time to return to your motor and set up your bike to perfection. There’s the new bike’s bars/brakes/shifter positioning to get right, adjusting brake reach and gear cables all comes into play too. Plus you have the action of forks and shock to tinker with, making minor adjustments after each run can get you closer to that much sought after ‘sweet spot’.

Stu Hughes chose the DH rig, fettling is a must!

Stu Hughes chose the DH rig, fettling is a must!

As these Shropshire (other uplifts available) hills are never located in massive gnarly mountains, it really isn’t a must to run a big DH rig, I personally never felt the Intense Carbine 29 hit it’s limits at any point, although with it being the only 29 there, it did get some odd sideways glances off the die-hard DH boys! But saying that, their trailers had recently had some modifications to accommodate the big wheels, so I obviously wasn’t alone in my wagon wheel invasion in the past.

Well made trailer keeps your pride and joy safe and un-scratched

Well made trailer keeps your pride and joy safe and un-scratched

So as I spent a whole day practicing my lines, fettling the bike and trying the different DH tracks with my riding buddies Stu Hughes and Vini Crighton-Poli. What did I gain from the experience and would I do more? As for the gain, the main thing was getting my speed up, I felt mine certainly picked up during the day, as I realized exactly what my long-term test Intense could do, nailing the berms and launching the drops. I also gained the knowledge that Downhillers aren’t such a clicky bunch when it comes to uplifts, chat was a-plenty in the Land Rovers and it was fantastic to also see riders on hard-tails and real young rippers getting their adrenalin buzz down the tricky root-strewn track. Would I do it again? Hell yes!

Vini lets her fly!

Vini lets her fly!

Thanks to Pearce Cycles for the day, check out their up-coming uplifts and events here www.pearcecycles.co.uk

Words and lifestyle pics- Jim Buchanan

Riding pics Sarah Barrett www.rootsandrain.com

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