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In the end, this separation in style is what put an end to To The Trail

I imagine most of the people that read this blog will be people who know me one way or another. You’ll likely be one of the people who have been involved with #MTBTalk over the last four years, or someone who I ride with, or someone who has watched me on YouTube. That’s who I imagine reads this drivel. If you’re new here, hello and welcome. If you’re one of the many people who chats bikes with me on a semi-regular basis, welcome back. If you’re here because of YouTube, well… everyone else might need some back-story so hold on.

Creating videos has been an on and off love of mine since 2015. Without covering old ground too much (I’m sure I’ve written about it before), I love taking videos for myself. I love watching them back a year or two later and reliving the experience I filmed. The trip to Spain with Sierra MTB is a particular favourite of mine, as is the MTB Meetup in 2018 where I stacked it so bad I twisted my crank and tore out my pedal. Yes, I got that on film. Cycling on the bridleway around the old iron works near Rosedale, North Yorkshire, is another that springs to mind. These are videos that I’ve put together (with George – I’ll get to that in a minute), and I enjoy watching back. That may sound narcissistic but it’s about bringing back the memories for me. And if a few people get some entertainment, or learn something from it on the way well that’s all good.

Granted, not all the videos on the channel are of this nature. In 2016, George and I set up To The Trail. We were riding virtually every week anyway and taking the GoPros with us, we figured we may as well hash together some of the footage we were shooting and share a YouTube channel. This all started out like I just explained but soon grew into this idea that, because we seemed to be gaining subscribers and an audience, we needed to pump out content twice a week to sustain growth. If you read anything about growing a YouTube channel, which was what we were trying to do throughout 2017, they’ll tell you consistency is key and once a week simply isn’t enough. I ended up making terrible videos, like this one about pedal pins, to try and meet that quota.

Needless to say, To The Trail started to fall flat. Both George and I were drained from the endless pumping out of low quality video to try and grow the channel. It became a chore each week to film video and edit it together. In the end, we agreed to stop the routine of twice weekly videos and go back to making videos as and when we wanted.

It was around this time that photography suddenly clicked for me. I’d been taking photos for a while but hadn’t been anywhere near as skilled as I wanted to be. Things seemed to happen over night because of the practice I was putting in and I started capturing images I was happy with. When out on the bikes, I’d often lug the full camera kit around just to snap a few photos too. I wanted to bring this into the channel a little and George agreed it was a good idea – after all, it would mean there’d be two separate styles of videos going on at the same time: bikes and photography, and bike vlogs… and that should keep the freshness of the channel, right?

In the end, this separation in style is what put an end to To The Trail. George and I are still planning on making videos but, with the styles being different, putting them on one channel just wasn’t working. It felt disjointed and unclear as to what and who was going to be in the next video. It was a mismatch of styles and ideas floating around.

We made the decision a few weeks back whilst riding together at Dalby that we’d have a go at our own channels. We’ll still be riding and filming together, that won’t change, but the footage will go towards our own videos for our own channels from now on. George will be continuing with To The Trail and the 500 or so subscribers on there (although there’ll likely be a name change), whilst I boot up my very own Pedal Slip YouTube channel from scratch.

It’s something I’m planning for the future but haven’t got the time or motivation to go for it right now. I think a rest from the pressure of content creation is needed whilst I regather my thoughts and ideas for the future.

After that time, I’m sure I’ll be quite looking forward to getting back out on the bike and making videos with meaning again. Putting the two things together has always given me a sense of fulfilment and means I’ve got a bank of memories I can delve back into on rainy days. And it shouldn’t change the fun I have on the bike either.

A special thanks to Feral Marmot for the photographs used throughout this one.

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