It all started when I was checking my work emails and saw a message from Ady Hogan our ‘advertising guy’ over at Ride UK asking if I would like to pop down to Wales for Red Bull Quartermaster at Revolution Bike Park in Llangynog. Naturally I said yes to the opportunity since I’d never been to an event quite like this before and really wanted to check out this MONSTER of a quarter with my own two eyes…
So after a nightmare sorting transport, going back and forth with options of how to travel down to Wales. I decided to just say “fuck it!” and take my own car, rather than renting one which would of been a bit of a faff on. The main reason I didn’t want to take my own motor was because it’s a lowered VW Lupo and I thought it wouldn’t cope very well with the harsh country roads the Welsh countryside has to offer but I was pretty wrong about that, she’s a trooper!
I’ll set the scene then… About 11pm the night before, I was thinking about the drive and it suddenly dawned on me that I need a wingman! It would have to be a good friend, someone who is no stranger to competitions, who would be great company and just an overall good guy. One name popped into my head right away, I mean who else could I take but the legend himself Chris Souter? – I asked Souter if he would be up for a very short notice trip to Wales via Facebook messenger and he was instantly stoked on the invitation, confirmed it with Clegg and Seb and we were good to go!
So we set off from Seaham at 5am and things were going well, the satnav was on, we had music blasting and good vibes and a fantastic feeling of what may be in store for us over the course of the next two days. We got about 3 hours into the journey and just started to get into North Wales and then the drowsy feeling hit me like a brick wall. I seriously started nodding off at the wheel about 4-5 times and had to slap myself in the face, open the window, have a cigarette or whatever I could do to keep myself awake as we still had a while ahead of us. Souter was fast asleep and I really didn’t want to kill us both so I decided to pull over for a quick pit stop at a petrol station to wake myself the fuck up! Souter woke up, conversation started flowing and we were back on track, moving steadily into the South of Wales and the incredible picturesque views started to appear before our very eyes and that definitely woke the both of us up for sure!
We saw a sign or Oswestry, which was the closest down to Llangynog but it was still about 20 miles away through some crazy country roads. We got about 10 miles away and then the satnav stopped working on my phone, all signal was lost and we were basically on our own, back to oldschool methods of actually asking people directions. A couple of wrong turns later, we pulled over and I asked this lovely old lady if she might know where Revolution Bike Park is thinking she probably won’t have a scooby. But much to my surprise she knew exactly where it was and gave us some pretty damn good directions! (thank you) – We started to see signs for Quartermaster and this was definitely our sort-of Holy Grail after basically shitting ourselves for the last 10 miles thinking the car would break down or pop a tyre.
So yeah… no biggie but
WE MADE IT!
After a huge sigh of relief we grabbed our bags, jumped out of the car and were astounded by the amazing scenery which was surrounding us. The event honestly could not of been in a better location, it was truly breathtaking. We walked up a steep rocky bank towards the entrance to the event, which was a sort of curved mud path you’d walk down, there was a massage tent for the athletes on the left if they needed it, a few portaloos then BANG it hit me! The roll in was right in front of us, and honestly words, pictures or video footage still cannot do justice to or help you realise the actual scale of this thing. It was HUGE! The quarter was equally as big and I couldn’t keep my mouth closed as I watched a few of the riders roll in for practise runs, we ran across the takeoff strip and made it over to the Red Bull tent.
So the first people we see are Robin Fenlon and Sebastian Keep who are old friends of Souters and were genuinely surprised and happy to see him, it was great for Souter to come down with me I think he needed this kind of thing in his life after so many years out and it’s done him the world of good I think. We chill for a bit and watch the lads roast this quarter like there’s no tomorrow then our Editor Sebastian Hejna and Ryan Van-Kesteren from the mag arrived and it was fantastic to meet up with Seb again and finally meet Ryan after only speaking via t’interweb, he’s a really good guy and I’m stoked we all got on so well.
We sat and chilled, helped ourselves to a can of Red Bull or two… Watched the riders blast the quarter for an hour or so during practise then this lovely couple who were hired by Red Bull to do the catering for us turned up and their food was absolutely incredible. Everyone sat down for a bit, enjoyed the food and had a bit of a chill out then we heard that half of the group were going to shoot some guns up on the mountain and the other half were going to some crazy underground trampolining place which is located in a cave the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral. This sounded absolutely mental to me and I was game for either of the activities the guys had planned really!
We eventually decided to go shooting and before I knew it, we were packed into the back of an old Landrover heading up a steep as shit mountain with Bas Keep, Kriss Kyle, Tommy Dugan, Roey, Kona Hellier, Kye Forte, Matty Lambert, Souter, Ollie Shields and a few others (my memory is shite sorry if I forgot a few people lads haha)
We all had a blast on the rifle at first which was really easy to shoot, didn’t have much of a kick back to it at all and everyone seemed to love it. I distinctly remember Tommy Dugan taking his turn and rather than shooting one potato, watermelon or Red Bull can at a time, he just rattled-off every clip in the mag like a machine-gun which was pretty funny. Quite a few of us had a go and really enjoyed shooting it, but it was just a step up from an air rifle really. So we moved onto the big boys toy – THE SHOTGUN.
There was a bit of nervousness in the air as the shotgun made its appearance out of the case. We were all stoked and most of us wanted to have a crack at this beast! We did a bit of clay pigeon shooting and after convincing Souter and Kriss to have a go. A of the lads who’d been downhilling had turned up at this point and told us about one of the lads they went out with had taken a wicked header into a tree and knocked himself out cold. Totally sour news! (hope you’re alright man.) We finished up shooting the clay pigeons and everyone seemed satisfied but someone had the awesome idea of getting Bas to fire off a full round for the camera and this was incredible! It was so powerful that it made him do a sort-of moonwalk backwards and you could tell by his reaction afterwards that he loved every second of it!
We finished up and packed our stuff up, jumped back into the Landrover to head down the mountain and the way down was a hell of a lot bumpier than the way up. We were getting chucked all over the place in the back and I remember Dugan had nothing to hold onto and looked like he was having a nightmare trying to lodge his arm in position to keep himself from ejecting suddenly. The owner’s dog was the best part though, he kept running around the 4×4 in circles and chasing us all the way down the bank, that dog must be so fit having to do that every day! The journey down was sketchy but good fun to say the least and we made it down to the carpark area and all hopped out and made our way to our vehicles.
Tom asked if he could jump in my car so we could head to this country manor everyone was staying, it was all good so Tom jumped in the back and we made our way down some windy and bumpy as shit roads hoping to hell that my car didn’t bottom out and rip my exhaust clean off. It was a pretty surreal moment for me to be perfectly honest… Blasting down a sketchy mountain road with Tom Dugan and Souter. That kind of shit doesn’t happen every day I guess! LOL – It was great getting to know Tom, he’s totally sound and is one hell of a piano player. But I’ll come to that later on…