Words: Alex Crump, Darren Sherrell, Tom Lea and Hugh Lea
Photos: Alex Crump
Location: Exeter, Devon.
History of the trails:
Before Tom and Hugh decided that JLC needed an overhall it was being built by some BMXers from The Boarding House and a guy called Mark from the Bike Shed. It was just the old middle line then running the opposite way from the big berm to where the 1st is now and was made mostly out of shale/concrete material (ask G-Rich).
Tom and Hugh certainly started the 'new' build alongside Darren and Noris (R.I.P). Tom set up an excellent relationship with the council and they have been nothing but supportive or uninvolved since so big up them and Jay’s dad for driving the digger THAT day! Also let's not forget the awesome guarder of the trails known as debatable mother!
Comps have never really been properly organised here but there have been some unofficial ones. There was one time though when we got in the Express and Echo as 'Tom’s dirt display team' in the middle of the winter when Tracey Moseley was supposed to come down (she rode DH for Kona back in the day). They came down before us and carpeted all the jumps and expected us to get through them! I'm fairly sure someone managed this but I can confirm that it wasn't Darren.
A few good times/memories/stories that spring to mind:
Richmond managed to snap his chain and in keeping with local tradition was still determined to get through the line without pedalling. Tom offered to push him in but massively over did the first attempt which resulted in Richmond bailing after over-jumping the 1st although he did get through the line on the 2nd attempt.
Hugh once decided to pop down to the trails on his day off work. It was around mid-day and a couple showed up in the playing fields and had blatant outdoor friendliness by the (now demolished) nissen hut.
After we built the big hip under the trees we needed to chop a few big branches off but couldn’t climb the tree. I therefore had to ride across Exeter with my old man’s garden saw which has a 6ft long, extendable handle (see picture below). I was definitely lucky that I didn’t damage myself or anyone I rode past (or get arrested)! On a similar note Tom has had many strange looks riding across Exeter with a pick-axe strapped to his bag.
Last summer it was pretty funny when Milan returned from his annual week in the Alps and decided to apply his new love for DH riding to the trails. He subsequently decided to ride down the slope (which is almost vertical) into the stream next to the jumps. Unfortunately V brakes aren’t great at stopping on slopes that steep and he crashed into the water below.
There are some priceless quotes from the local kids every now and then and some of the bikes they show up on are pretty funny too. Also, the trails were once shut after the police found a body...
Describe your trails:
There is always a great atmosphere and usually there are people to ride with as they're fairly well known. The trails are on almost flat ground so the jumps aren’t too big and require a good pump. Over recent years they’ve been developing more interesting/imaginative lines/features/transfer options though which make up for not having huge jumps.
We also maintain a small line of tabletop style jumps which keep the kids/council happy (and gives us something to nibble on when it’s really windy).
I guess as with any spot people come and go (especially when your trails are in a public park) but the main locals/diggers over the years have been Tom, Hugh, Darren, Mills, Sam, Richmond, Milan and myself. More recently Simpson, Steve and Dave have been helping out loads too. Loads more come to ride in the summer too but there are just too many to list.
Updates/changes for 2012:
We spent a lot of time building up the left hip on the 2nd and the berm after is now way bigger along with the left hip back in on 4. We’ve also built a big (shoulder high) double pump after the hip and the berm jump is also being stacked up. Other than that most of our time is spent maintaining/fixing the existing lines.
Long term trails/digging goals:
Teleport them to a private spot with some shade?
On a serious note though, despite Tom’s children, Hugh’s children (and his new “jock” status), Darren moving to London, Sam’s work and Alex’s Uni commitments, the trails stay in existence and look fly.
I would like to ride your trails. Are they open to the public or private/invite only? Is there a local I can contact to ask to ride? And does it matter whether I ride a BMX or a MTB?
Anyone is welcome, whatever you ride. Two things though:
Don’t leave litter.
Please don’t ride the trails when they are wet, or leave carpets in the bomholes when they are wet so they don’t dry out.
Well I guess the spot we visit most often is K-hole so a big thanks to Pete and all the locals who are always up for letting us come ride there. I hear Exminster jumps have been rebuilt so I guess they may be worth a trip in the summer and Pinesridge is always fun if you get there before the local kids have trashed the lips (Ed note: Pinesridge has since been knocked down, RIP). Decoy is also close as are some fairly decent skateparks. Oh, and does the BMX track (in Mash Barton) count?
JLC is where I learnt how to ride trails properly; they taught me how to pump hard and flow. They may not be particularly big or be full of hips (although there are a few) they are fun and when you get the hang of them they are boost friendly. Even the beginner table line will teach you how to pump. The locals are friendly, there is always a good vibe and there is a fairly even mix of MTB and BMX riders. The locals usually ride on weekday evenings, so if you want to say hi and enjoy a good session then this is the best time to visit.