2011 Wideopenmag Editor’s Favourites

Evening all – Editor Jamie here – Happy Christmas for last week and Happy New Year to those of you in the Southern Hemisphere that are already in 2012 and getting stuck into the first hangover of the new year!

I’m sat here in Bristol, UK with just a few of hours of 2011 left to go. Much of today will be spent (like you no doubt) with beer in hand and no time for nostalgia so I’m going to take 15 minutes now to look back at the amazing year we’ve had at Wideopenmag and thank you lot for once again helping us to create a bike a magazine that looks, reads and feels the way we want to see it.

The year started with an unforgettable trip north to Sheffield to explore one of the best scenes in the UK, hang out with some super nice people and to take part in Steve Peat’s Steel City Downhill. Since we published this piece a number of other mags have followed suit and given the Sheffield scene heaps more excellent publicity – if you’ve not ridden with those guys it’s definitely worth a look. The trails, the people and the energy that goes into the scene in Sheffield are all completely inspiring and will reward anyone that makes the trip and gets to know the guys up there. Thanks to Joe, Nick, Peaty and co for their hospitality on that one.

Of course a big part of what we do here at Wideopenmag is to support the British Race Scene – with our focus being on the National DH and 4X events. It’s why I got into making Wideopenmag and it’s sort of the back-bone of what we do here.

Team rider Brandon hitting the steep stuff at Llangollen…

I think a big success for us this year was our race videos from the Halo British Downhill Series, which were hand crafted by the man, the myth, the anaconda from the Rhonda Paul “10 cans” Roberts. You wouldn’t know it if you met him in the pub but alongside being absolutely, genuinely mental is a film-making genius and has definitely earned his beer tokens this season.

Alongside Paul’s talent was of course the riders that generously leant us their time to MC the videos and ‘tell the story’ of each race. We didn’t just want to produce samey edits that are the same as everything else out there – we wanted to make fun, original, funny vids that gave you a genuine look at the people and the personalities that make up our sport. My favourite edit was definitely this one from the National Champs and saw me and Paul spend half of Saturday’s practice trawling the charity shops of Llangollen for crappy shirts and ties for Al and Ems. We really weren’t sure if it was a crap idea throughout and the riders thought we were taking the piss (which we were) but I reckon it turned out well and it got loads of views. Who needs yet another ‘serious’ Champs edit right?!

My job at the races is a bit of a funny one of not actually doing a whole lot. I shoot a bit of footage to help Paul out and do the interviews, I’ll offer the team any help I can and I’ll generally try and pull everything together and sort any problems out. Generally though, if I’ve done my job I’ve done it before we get to the race. That means that the big fun thing for me about travelling to the races is exactly that – the travelling. We road tripped thousands of miles in 2011 across the length and breadth of the UK, we met heaps of amazing people and spent a lot of time together on the road finding ways to get into trouble. This vid and my report from Glencoe (wash out event of the season) sums this up for me… it’s not the destination, its the journey.

Of course I can’t talk abut races without talking about the Wideopenmag race team who had an unforgettable season. The team is a lot work and is one of the big things that I spend my time in the editor’s chair coordinating – but it’s (I think) worth every second. It’s so easy for us just to sit on the edge of the races looking in without actually ‘doing’ – the team give us a way to report first hand on the races, get the inside word on the events and really just get fully stuck in to riding and racing.

Ellie Maxfield started the year on a bit of a downer and nursing a few injuries but has finished the year a completely different rider. She stepped up to elite, took her first elite podium, raced her first World Cup and won the overall Elite female prize at the Pearce Cycles series.

Keeny – a new addition to the team for 2011 – also had the best season of his life so far with tonnes of excellent results at the British 4X and finished top 5 overall. Great work considering he came dead last in 2010! Alongside those guys we also supported Brandon Love, Wayne Appleby and Dave Thomason who all had great seasons and were a massive force behind the mag. A big thanks also to our mechanic, cook, tyre changer, cheerer upper and all round provider of energy and enthusiasm Chaz Curry. More on the 2012 team in the next few weeks… And a massive thanks to O’Neal, Six-Pack components, THE helmets, Conti Tyres, Blur optics, CCtweaked wheels, The Cycle Jersey and Orange Bikes for their incredible support in making the team happen.

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We did of course cover the DH and the 4x in the mag also … I’ll be honest we could have got more magazines out and we could have been a bit more on time with meeting our deadlines but what coverage we produced was (I think) excellent. A huge part of that is Jacob ‘Milky’ Gibbins’ stunning photography that runs throughout everything we do here at Wideopenmag – with every image making the races look and feel amazing. Nice work Gibby.

Away from the races we enjoyed some unforgettable trips around the world and really started to feel like we could go places with Wideopenmag – Two of the better trips being to Morzine to stay with our friends at Riders Retreat and to the Algarve in south Portugal to stay with Ride Portugal. More from both of those in the next issue of the mag, but here’s two videos that Paul made from the trips.

Last but not least (time is ticking on and the beer is calling!) I can’t forget the talent that makes up Wideopenmag – we like to think that we’re a showcase for the talent pool that is UK mountain biking and that we exist because of the generosity of the riders, writers, filmers, photographers and illustrators that offer us their time and effort.

Alongside our regulars we’ve seen some super talented contributors offer us their work this year. There’s far too many to name everyone individually but one that has really stood out for me this year is Duncan Philpott who bagged a cover shot for our Sheffield issue 15 special. Dunc just seems to have massively upped his game in 2011 and the quality of his work has sky-rocketed. We’ll definitely be featuring more of his work in 2012 if he’ll let us! Props should also go out to Matt Wragg, Tom Gaffney, Tim Lake, Gareth Weston, Keith Valentine and James Webber who have all sent us regular and great quality work all year – thanks guys.

On the bike there are just so many riders that have impressed us this season – but the big one is without doubt Al Bond who’s win at the HaloBDS represents everything we love about racing. Al lives, eats, breaths and sleeps racing to the point that he lives in a barn, has quit his day job and just rides all day long. If anyone deserved a win we reckon he did.

So that’s it for 2011 – another year of riding bikes on dirt and telling stories about what we’e see along the way. Thanks to all of you for reading, for sending in your work and for encouraging us to keep going. Please keep it up! I owe you all a beer.

One final thanks to the Wideopenmag editorial team that is James Hilton, Jim Smith and Fiona Davidson without whom the magazine would remain a jumble of emails on my laptop and to the select few incredible companies that are generous enough to advertise with us. I owe you lot far more than a beer!

And what can you expect next year? Loads. 2012 is the year we need to make Wideopenmag work and work well. Lots of magazines, a talented race team and a packed line up of talent. Keep your eyes peeled and email us on [email protected] if you want to join us.

See you in 2012 – may your trails flow and your beers be cold!

Jamie and all of us here at Wideopenmag!

I’ll leave you with Monster’s video of our End of Season Party which was the icing on the cake of an amazing year for us – we’ll definitely be seeing another one of these in 2012!