Watch: Shropshire is mountain biking sweet spot - YouTube star on how area is gaining a name for great riding
Drop-offs, berms and camber roots are just par for the course for Shrewbury mountain biker extraordinaire Neil Donoghue.
And while he may attract more than 155,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, the 34-year-old from Shrewsbury is far more modest about his talents.
The downhill mountain biking champion is the star of Global Mountain Biking Network and the Dirt Shed Show, which attract thousands of viewers each day, and is one of the best all-round mountain bike riders in the country.
Having been a pro for 14 years, travelling the world racing bikes and doing photo and video shoots, he has competed at the very highest level racing World Cup Downhill from 2000 to 2009, finishing 10th at the Megavalanche and then embarking on a successful Enduro career where he became UK Gravity Enduro champion in 2012 and again in 2014.
Neil has also featured in many mountain bike films such as the Sprung videos, Earthed series, Between The Tapes and First and ran a successful coaching company where he taught first hand the skills that had made him a household name.
His introduction to biking came as a result of his teenage paper round. The plan was to buy a BMX but instead friends convinced the 14-year-old to buy a mountain bike and the rest is history.
Within two weeks he had entered a downhill race at the local woods. Coming almost last did not put him off and he caught the bug.
He spent the following months perfecting his skills and entering more competitions. Friday afternoons at Meole Brace Secondary School were spent on the bikes as part of his PE lessons and soon he was making a name for himself as something of an ace rider.
At the age of 20 he turned professional and signed his first sponsorship deal. Then it was a life of travelling and racing across the globe.
But Shropshire has always been a top biking spot for Neil, who grew up in Bayston Hill and Belle Vue, and it seems many are now sharing in its delights.
"I don't know whether it is the geology or the geography," he said.
"But Shropshire is getting a very good name for itself in terms of mountain biking. It is great for advanced riders but perhaps needs something more for the novices. There are great rides at Nesscliffe, Grinshill, Haughmond and Eastridge.
"There is a concentration of some of the best riders in the UK here in Shropshire."
The county is home to some of the best bikers in the world including Rachel, Gee and Dan Atherton along with fellow GMBN presenters, Oswestry-based Martyn Ashton and Marc Beaumont from Church Stretton.
And a new generation of mountain bikers are finding their inspiration in the show Neil fronts with Marc and Martyn.
With tutorials, workshop manuals and guest slots, GMBN appeals to both novices and advanced riders.
"We have tried to do something which will attract both those who know how to ride and those who are just starting out," said Neil.
"We film the shows three days a week and spend between an hour and five hours on each episode. Those episodes last six minutes so a lot of work goes into them.
"The shows go out six days a week but soon that will be seven due to demand. Since GMBN was launched last March we have filmed in France, Italy, America and all over the UK.
"This week we have been filming at Eastridge and at Church Stretton. We try to cover all the different genres of mountain biking from endurance riding to downhill. I had no idea about YouTube films when I first started but I guess, because of the coaching I used to do, I adapted to it quite quickly. Now I find the pieces to camera pretty easy.
"I just like to encourage more people to ride. It's all about being as entertaining and informative and to put out as many videos about mountain biking as we can.
"Now I am full time with GMBN and will only race for fun, not professionally, although I can see myself racing for as long as I can. I am just a bike rider who happens to ride a lot of mountain bikes."
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