Glentress, Mountain Biking

Participants - Kenny Pollock, Andrea Huttner, Gareth Reynolds, Rob Baines

For a change, I thought I'd post something other than mountains.Yesterday, some of my work's cycle club members kindly let me use them as models for a mountain biking session at Glentress, a forested playground near Peebles in the Scottish Borders.

We arrived at Glentress the day before The Hub, its 10-year old cafe - and I'm sure some will say part of the soul of the place - was due to close. The cafe's owners, Emma Guy and Tracy Brunger, had been unsuccessful in re-negotiating their lease and moving into Glentress Peel, a new £9m visitor centre opened by the Foresty Commission next door. Judging by the queue afterwards for coffee and cakes (45-50 folk crammed into two joined together portkabins) the Hub was a popular place and I'm sure emotions ran high at the time. It's apparent they still do.

Politics aside, it's the second time I've tried to photograph mountain bikers and I find it quite difficult. Mountains don't move and hikers, hillwalkers and backpackers move slowly; they're generally easy to get in focus. Mountain bikers on the other hand move quickly and the background is cluttered with trees, leaves and fences. All combined, I find it difficult to focus where I want to and the majority of shots come out a blurry mess.

Common sense dictates using a faster shutter speed to freeze movement. But I don't think you want that. A static bike in a shot doesn't imply movement and that's what mountain biking is about - muddy, brightly clothed folk throwing themselves and their bikes down trails, up ramps, through trees and over jumps. There's a lot of potential for good action shots if you can get it right. Unfortunately, I didn't manage it this time - a lot of these shots are cropped heavily and none would stand up to much scrutiny at larger sizes - so hopefully they'll invite me back to try again!

Thanks to Kenny, Andrea, Gareth and Rob for a very fun morning.