Over the years, I have flown thousands of miles, burned through countless tanks of diesel and worn out many bikes and products, so it’s safe to say that my riding career has had a massive impact on our planet.

While it’s something that cannot be eliminated, I believe that we can all do better. Over the last two decades, the massive take up of mountain biking around the world has caused a significant increase in the size of the industry, and its production output causing more of an impact on our earth than ever before. My goal is to help the best bike brands develop high-performance mountain bike products so that riders can choose a more sustainable and eco-conscious path to ride.

Perfection is not an option, but we can all do better by the choices we make.

“High performance and durability don’t have to cost the earth”


It all started with Peter Cartwright and his metallic green Kona Fire mountain bike…

He lived across the street and, at my mother’s request, he begrudgingly took me out for my first mountain bike ride. Even though I struggled to keep up, I loved it. After the ride, Peter handed me an MBUK magazine to flick through and I was blown away to learn that this was a real thing, I was hooked. I knew from that day I was, in the words of one of my heroes, the late Dave Mirra, “Sentenced to life behind bars”. It wasn’t long after that I got my first full suspension bike, a Sunn Xchox.

As a youth, I raced cross-country and downhill, but my bike was often broken, so the indestructibility of BMX bikes was my path to staying on two wheels. When I was old enough to decide between staying in education or riding bikes, I chose the latter. Walking out half-way through a math class to head to the dirt jumps with a spade was the best decision of my life – and that’s when it started to get interesting.

For two years, I focused on BMX and thinking I could live forever on the £600 I had in the bank. Of course, that didn’t work out quite well, so I got a job to earn some money, and eventually, I was back to downhill racing. For five years, I travelled all over Europe, mostly sharing a van with a great friend and legend behind Hurly Burly, James Mcknight. This first big stint of travelling and riding my bike opened my eyes to what the world had to offer. We both got a job on a building site, shredded trails, skied and raced downhill. Things were going good until 2008 when an OTB crash ruptured my spleen and nearly ended it all.

A long recovery process made me realise that there was more to explore than what lay between the race tape. I started skiing more, riding more of this new-fangled ‘enduro’ and slowly started to work too much. I eventually hit a point when I thought I had everything I ever wanted: we shared a huge apartment in the Alps, I had a race-van, two performance cars, two motorbikes, and a garage full of bikes, skis, and tools. It wasn’t until viewing a big job contract for a monster farm renovation when I felt totally overwhelmed and realised I was descending the wrong path. That was it. I sold up nearly everything I had so I could get back on the bike. I spent a while guiding in Finale Ligure, and then Whistler, but something didn’t fully draw me in, I needed more stimulation and pressure to improve myself.

I moved back to the UK, and with some help from my family, I managed to work a little and focus a lot on the brand new Enduro World Series. Three years of racing and I felt I was making progress. Then a call came from overseas, and the journey as the European Technical Editor for PinkBike began. With nearly zero experience as a ‘journalist’ (we’re not journo’s, we’re bike testers), there was a lot to learn which gave me the drive I needed.

After four years, I started to feel stale, and moreover, question the industry as a whole. Flying across the world to stay in a five-star hotel for a night, do half a bike ride and fly back, wasn’t me. I had a great time travelling and meeting people, but the waste grated on me, and so did the pile of plastic and broken parts piling up in the corner of the garage.

Fast forward to 2021

I bought an old dairy farm in “the middle of nowhere”, Liguria, Italy – for less than the cost of three of the latest Electric Mountain Bikes!

I am now the proud owner of a dilapidated house, another house better described as a ruin, a massive barn (perfect for creating the ultimate bike-testing workshop) and more than 6 acres of woodland on the side of a hill (ideal for making my own network of bike trails)

My plan is to buy the latest bikes to test, create review videos, then raffle the bikes and some extra goodies to a lucky winner. Essentially creating crowdfunded, unbiased, comprehensive bike reviews.

This is the scariest thing I have done in my life – and I have done some stupid things – so please share as much as possible to help kick-start the journey!

If anybody can offer suggestions, expertise, or collaboration proposals, please get in touch!

Paul Aston