Looking back over the highs and lows of a dream job…
19 years ago, almost to the day, a very much younger version of myself, at the time a rookie journalist and photographer, took a lift to one of the top floors in a huge tower block in central London. The building was South Bank Tower, commonly known as IPC Towers, and young me was going for an interview with the then editor of a brand new mountain bike magazine called MBR.
I got the job!
I was actually going to be paid to ride my bike and explore. All I had to do in return was file a few maps, route descriptions, images and the odd flowery word every month.
The rest, as they say, is history. And in the ensuing 19 years, I’ve had the honour of riding and exploring more of the UK’s tracks, trails and bridleways than I would imagine anyone before or since. Usually, of course, accompanied by Steph – once teased by the office for being ‘the most photographed woman in British mountain biking’.
But all good things must come to an end.
In the early days, I sent my words in on paper, my images as a collection of slides in a plastic wallet, and the maps as actual tracings on tracing paper.
Yesterday I pressed Enter on my keyboard and the electronic files that these days contain all of the above, zipped off into the ether for a final time. The February 2018 Issue of MBR will be the last to contain our routes section. Dropping sales have hit editorial budgets hard and what we have referred to over the years as our baby will no longer feature in the magazine.
But fear not, this is not a blog of woe. It’s been amazing – we’ve met some incredible people, been to some mind-blowing places, and we’ve had an absolute blast.
And with our guiding and mtb holiday business now gaining a little traction, the time feels right to throw all our efforts into that.
So it’s celebration time! And what better way to do it than to list below the highs and lows of 19 years in a dream job – Enjoy – And hope to see you on the trail 🙂
19 years of route research in a nutshell
High Point: Back to work after an 8-month injury
Low Point: Another flat on a cold wet day in the Lakes
Best trail: Torridon – the drop to Achnashellac – but Snowdon Ranger comes a close runner-up.
Worst trail: There have been some howlers – but they never made the mag and I have thankfully forgotten them.
Most memorable day: Harris the first time. Stunning weather, boat ride over, stonking 20km ride including a lot of swimming, dinner in Tarbert and a sunset boat ride back to Skye
Toughest day: 82km from Fort William – 11 hours all in!
Strangest thing: Driving 6 hours from Snowdonia to ride 14km in the South Downs.
Craziest moment: So much clay on my tyres that I couldn’t push the bike, but it was now so heavy I couldn’t lift it either
Scariest moment: Almost being benighted in the Lakes after diverting around scary farm dogs.
Funniest moment: A true Faulty Towers experience in a Lakeland hotel!
Saddest moment: Killing a grouse chick that ran out of the heather and into my wheel
If we could do it all again, what would we change? Not a thing 🙂
Tom Hutton is a mountain bike guide, photographer and journalist. He has been the route researcher for mbr magazine for 17 years, provides classic route guides for Singletrack magazine and has written a number of guidebooks.
For more info on Tom Hutton MTB Guiding, our holidays, weekends and guided rides, see our website