Phil is a mountain bike guide and skills coach, living and working in mid Wales. His mesmerising photography of mountain bike tours and beautiful Welsh landscapes are fast earning him a large following on social media. We spoke to Phil about mountain biking, his photography and what is next on the agenda.
All the pictures are Phil’s own
Describe yourself and your sport
I have always lived in mid Wales, and has spent the last 20 years living in Llanidloes, right in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains, Europe’s oldest mountain range. From here I have easy access to riding right out the back door in Elan Valley, the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia. This includes trail centres such as Coed y Brenin and Nant yr Arian just a stones throw away, and ideal for riding when it rains, which we know in Wales is very rare! I also a keen climber and mountaineer, and can be seen very rarely paddling a boat down the River Wye.
What drew you to the sport?
Living on a farm in the middle of nowhere meant you had to ride miles and miles to visit friends, often over hills and fields to avoid the roads and lanes. This was certainly my first experience of riding off road. I then rode BMX in my early teens and raced just over the border in Shropshire. As I got older I swapped the BMX for a road bike to get around quicker! I’ve always ridden bikes, it’s just the simplest form of transport going.
Do you have a favourite place to go biking?
Our backyard is always the best, particularly Elan Valley. However, riding down Stanage Edge in the Peak District and big days in the Lake District are big favourites. If we are looking across the water, Briancon and the Queyras National Park in my top three hot spots to ride each summer.
We love the beautiful landscapes and your love for mountain biking that you capture on your Instagram-do you have a favourite shot?
Mmm, favourite shot? Riding in Wales gives us an opportunity to capture a moment in time on every ride. An image of remote landscapes, deep valleys, high peaks in all sorts of weather give a great flavour of what we see and feel on every ride. I love this shot from riding in the Rhinogau Mountains of Snowdonia. Just stopping to take the time to admire the splendour and ruggedness of our country.
Most of your MTB photographs are in Wales- do you often go further afield with your bike?
Working and guiding in mountain biking has given me the opportunity to work all over the UK and Europe, either training guides or guiding myself. This includes working in Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland and Montenegro. I also raced and photographed the very first Yak Attack around Annapurna in Nepal. I was commissioned to photograph the event for MBUK magazine and Berghaus clothing, and was certainly a life changing experience. Riding through Khatmandu at rush hour is still one of the most extreme rides I have ever experienced.
What have you got planned next?
We have a full calendar ahead in 2016, Trans Cambrian tours and epic weekends are really busy. But there is always room for more adventures. Wales north to south off road in August after our Alps trip, and expanding our bike packing adventures. There is also chatter of doing the Yak Attack again in November as a 10 year anniversary. Might need to do a little training!
What advice would you give those new to the sport/ wanting to get into mountain biking?
Don’t spend a fortune on getting the best bike out there. Start cheap and just get out on the trails regularly, nice low level trails to start with, no big lung busting climbs! Interesting trail features to develop your skills and fitness, not scare you! Cycling never gets any easier, you just get faster! So every ride you develop that bit more each time, skills and fitness wise. Local clubs are always good to meet other likeminded people and riders, with organised trips to other areas to ride.