• Aberdeenshire Bicycle Works

Simon's Equipment

[Editor] We asked our work experience pupil Anna Ellson to interview Simon Richards about his outdoor life.

In the second addition of our series "My Outdoor Life in 5 Objects" I had the chance to interview Firetrail's non-executive director Simon Richards as he showed me around his house and shared with me his 5 favourite things to use outdoors...

1. Mountain Bike

Simon began by taking me up the stairs to his garage full of bikes and biking gear. "I took up cycling a long time ago after I'd had an injury... I chopped my finger off!" Simon explained. "I needed to get fit again but I couldn't run because when I ran my finger hurt like hell, so I took up biking."

Simon mountain biking across Scotland in 2015

"I ride my mountain bike a least three times a week, sometimes more." Simon has been mountain biking all over, in places such as Spain, Morocco, England, Wales, Canada, America, New Zealand, Italy and Scotland. "It's something I can enjoy with my kids and it's great being able to bike trails and take part in races in many different places around the world."

Simon's favourite mountain biking memory was 10 years ago in Utah on a ride called 'The Full Enchilada', "My son Jack and I flew out to Vancouver, where Sam [Simon's oldest son, director of OneUp] was living at the time and we drove to Salt Lake City to pick up their brother Harry. The drive took 3 days! Then we went South to Moab where my boys and I did that unforgettable ride."

I asked Simon whether he preferred mountain biking or road cycling: "Mountain biking definitely! It's more technical and it's great that there's no traffic...I could be out mountain biking all day and seldom see anyone else about."

2. Road Bike

"I'm not a road cyclist...really," however Simon then went on to tell me that he had ridden 135km in Perthshire for the Etape Caledonia only yesterday. "Although I realise I have cycled on the road quite a bit now. I've cycled from Lands End to John O' Groats and from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean through the Alps, both of which were fantastic outdoor experiences!"

Simon completed the Etape Caledonia last weekend

Simon also told me that his good friend Pete (who biked with him from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean) sadly passed away from cancer last year, "We had a really memorable 10 days riding through the Alps together."

"Both road cycling and mountain biking have been really important to me!"

3. Snow Board

Simon then showed me his snowboard and went on to explain that he first tried skiing but didn't really enjoy it and never felt that he was that good at it, having never had proper lessons. "Sam, my eldest son, told me to try snow boarding. It's something that the kids do and we still do together and I think that's really important."

Simon also showed me a picture of the time he and his daughter Daisy were helicoptered to the top of a hill in New Zealand - all in the name of snow boarding! "It was super cool, a day in a helicopter and not only that but getting to do something so fantastic with your daughter was really special."

4. Wind Surfer

"I've just been on a week's wind surfing holiday, which was the first time I had been in about 5 years," Simon explained, "but for many years wind surfing was a really important part of my life."

Weymouth Harbour

After seeing people wind surfing in Holland back in 1978, Simon decided he had to try it out. Him and a friend both started learning to wind surf. "From there, wind surfing dominated my outdoor life for a long time."

Simon even made his own speed board for wind surfing. "It was a project I set myself while I lived in London, to build my own speed sail, and I used it twice at the British Speed Sailing Championships in Weymouth."

"Wind surfing is one of those sports that has many different levels to it and you will never get to the end of it, there is always more to learn, which is wonderful."

5. Spider the Dog

Spider chilling at home...

Spider is a very cute Border Terrier. "She's my mountain biking buddy and we spend a huge amount of time out in the hills, mountain biking together...she will keep going for 15, sometimes 20km."

Simon said his favourite part about being out with Spider is, "that pleasure of being in the wilderness, no one else around just you and your dog. Her enthusiasm for it is still there today!"

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