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Hamsterley Beast

It was a pleasure to be asked by friend and fellow photographer, Jerry Tatton of @jwdtphotography & @DialledinUK to join him and his merry crew of photographers to cover the last Hamsterley Beast.

What is the Hamsterley Beast? Put simply. it's a beast of a ride, through Hamsterley Forest, all in the aid of the Great North Air Ambulance.

With camping, food stalls, a bar and bands entertaining the riders on Saturday evening, it's more of a festival than just a ride.

Heading up with the family, we pitched the tent around the event village, right in the heart of the forest and were soon surrounded by tents and campervans.

Food and drink stalls began to pop up around the marque and live music began to drift out, bringing in the campers from their tents.

After all the rocking and rolling, some of the revellers were feeling it and decided to grab an early night for the 40 mile ride the next day.

Friday Street, the go to mountain bike festival band, closed the show once again with their blistering set.

Next morning, a few hesitant riders, nursing sore heads, made their way to registration, stopping off at the Barista Sisters to recharge with the Trail Coffee Co's finest blends.

Local police were on hand, giving out advise on bike security and free bike locks.

The riders grouped, waiting for the helicopter fly-over and for the official start hooter.

And they were off, some firing past at a hundred mile an hour, while others ambled past me, pacing themselves for the miles ahead.

With the last of the riders crossing the start and heading on to the trails, I gathered my things and went to my designated spot, to wait for the riders to come through.

As I walked up Transmission I scouted areas out for potential shots, finally settling on a corner near the very top.

I wasn't waiting too long until the lead riders started to stream in.

When the light hit the trees behind the riders, it transformed the shot, adding contrast to the image.

With 40, 20 and a 10 mile option for the younger ones, it was great to see such a mix of riders all riding and enjoying the trails together.

Once the sweeper made his way through, I took that as my sign to head to my other spot for the day, the finish line.

Back at the event village, I wandered around the stalls, grabbed myself a couple of raffle tickets and refuelled with a butty and a brew.

Everyone volunteering were more than happy to help the riders in any way they could, earning as much money in the process for a cause, we as mountain bikers hope to never need.

The riders started to flood in, some looking more wearier than others, some with smiles on their faces and others heading straight to the bar.

Loved ones, friends and fellow riders congratulated each other under the sun at the finish.

All money raised from the image sales is going to the Great North Air Ambulance and if you haven't got your images yet, please head to the link below to find them.

Between us, we managed to come away with a varied set, from water splashes to jumps and drops, plus priced at just £14 for all, you're not only contributing to a great cause, but getting amazing value for money to boot.

Thanks for having me along Jerry, and hopefully see you next year for something bigger and better?

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