The capacity crowd gathers for Bike Night (Pic: Kendal Mountain Festival)
Writing is my thing. My favoured mode of communication is words. I get to think about them, take my time and – most importantly – change them before anyone gets to read them. I would, therefore, consider myself an odd choice to stand up in front of several hundred people, present an evening of mountain bike films, a couple of speakers and conduct an interview live on stage. The organisers of the Kendal Mountain Festival Bike Night seemed to think it’d be a good idea, though, and thankfully I had two things on my side. First, the lighting in Kendal Town Hall – dark, but with a couple of big spotlights on the stage – meant that I could only actually see the people in the front row. Second, I had a handy lectern to hold on to. Sorry about the divots in the sides from my fingernails.
Obviously the presence of a novice compere didn’t put off the public, though – Bike Night was pretty much full. The schedule was packed to bursting too, and yes, we did run quite badly over. But with material as entertaining as Pauline Sanderson’s account of her epic ride from the lowest point on Earth (the shores of the Dead Sea in Jordan) up to Everest Base Camp and thence up Everest itself (without the bike, naturally), it seemed a bit of a shame to be too fundamentalist about the timings.
As well as Pauline, we had four films – Riding The Alps, a special festival edit of Seasons, UK short Life Cycle and Marcus Fellows’s tale of everyman DH adventure Road to the Megavalanche – plus 7stanes trail builder Andy Hopkins on the art and science of trails. Plus, of course, DH racer Tracy Moseley, for whom we rearranged the furniture on stage and went a bit talk-show for a few minutes before getting some questions in from the audience.
The Bike Night certainly felt like a success at the time, and apparently people have said nice things since. It’s great to see bikes alongside adventurous pursuits of longer standing at a proper mountain festival like Kendal, and with any luck the increasing profile of bikes at film festivals will galvanise some budding filmmakers into action.
If you’ve made a film that you think might have a place in next year’s Bike Night, the Festival organisers would love to hear from you – it’d be great to have some more home-grown stuff in 2009. Everything you need to know about matters Festivular can be found at www.mountainfilm.co.uk.