Facebook Sessions: Mitch Burrows

Mitch and a horse

 

TRF:

Howdy Mitch. How’s tricks? Thanks for helping out with this interview.

Mitch:

That’s ok! I’m terrible on the phone so this is way better!!

Me and Dan were wondering if you are the greg that made that great little video about making the saddle bags?

TRF:

Ah, no worries. It saves me having to type everything up as well! And yes – that’s me of saddle bag fame (sort of…)

Mitch:

Haha cool

TRF:

Thanks. OK, really easy, I’m just interested in getting a flavour of who you are really. I think a lot of people would be surprised (in a good way) to meet you on the trails. So, lets start with that photo – it got a great response on Facebook. Can you tell me a little bit about how it was taken. Who, where, and why you stopped to say hello to the horse?

Mitch:

The photo was taken near Berkhamstead in Herts (not sure of that spelling) We were trying out some new lanes, and had highlighted all the byways on our OS explorer map.

Dan has good local knowledge having lived around this area all his life and so he rides upfront a lot, and carries the map!

The encounter happened because we are constantly checking the map on first runs, and just happened to stop here. There were 3 horses, but this one was least bothered by us at first until i found some fresh grass to feed it.

TRF:

It loos like it was enjoying the grass : ) So I’m guessing Dan took the picture. You could have just shared it with your friends but you sent it in to the TRF. Why was that?

Mitch:

We share the routes we ride with horse riders, and feel there is a lack of understanding and lack of respect sometimes from both parties. Dan’s family are keen horse riders and there is often a debate  about who is more entitled to use those lanes, who causes the most damage. I shared the picture mainly because the riding (for us) is as much about taking in our surroundings, seeing things we wouldn’t come across in the car say.

TRF:

That’s really interesting Mitch. It’s interesting that you get to see both sides of the argument. Obviously there’s tension between horse riders and trail riders, some of which gets written about quite a lot. But – are there any points of view from the horse riders that you think trail riders would be surprised at?

Mitch:

If byways are gonna remain there needs to be that respect and that attitude towards riding. A recent encounter we had with a  horse rider at the weekend made me realise why these tensions exist. We were riding down a tarmac lane probably doing no more than 20mph Dan spotted a horse rider and immediately pulled over and switched off his engine. The rider was really surprised we had  done that and said it was the first time that had happened.

The noise of our machines can be alarming to pedestrians and animals, and the riders horse had a habit of jumping sideways when alarmed.

TRF:

OK. So you go riding with your boyfriend Dan, is that right? Did he get you into it?

Mitch:

I got into riding through my dad, he rode a BMW GS around Australia when I was still at college, seeing his photo’s, inspired me. As soon as I was earning enough in I got my licence. I rode a Suzuki GN125 for a couple of years then a GN 250 which became my work horse for around 4 years, I didn’t own a car for some time! Trail riding was born out of Dan’s love for Trials riding and finding something that fits us both. I’d often wondered what it was like to ride a dirt bike, and now i’m finding out.

TRF:

That’s some impressive riding history – it’s obviously in the blood. OK, so without wanting to tiptoe around a polite way of putting this, one of the things that surprised me about meeting you was that you are in fact not a middle aged man. Under your helmet, with your gear on – I, like others, project my idea of who I expect you to be. But in the reality is quite different! Would you say that’s a fair comment?

Mitch:

Yes that is fair, the horse rider at the weekend commented on the fact, that I was indeed a girl.

TRF:

How do you feel about that? Proud? Annoyed? Do you think you are unusual in that you enjoy trail riding? I think it’s quite interesting how you mentioned earlier your motivations for riding…

Mitch:

It doesn’t annoy me at all, it amuses me because you are hopefully switching on a light, opening them up to the idea that women can do this too. I think most people will find there are plenty of women riding all styles of bike, I love the adventures of Lois Pryce, during her recent trips to Iran she discovered women riding dirt bikes over there. I played football in an all boys team at a young age which was quite unheard of back then, my parents always supported me to do the things I loved.

TRF:

I think you and my wife Georgia would get on very well ; ) I thought it was interesting when you said you trail ride as a way to get into the countryside. It seems that you have similar values to other countryside users – horse riders for example – but simply choose a different form of transport. Interesting too that you do it to spend time with Dan, something you can enjoy together. Like you said, bikes make noise and can be disruptive so there needs to be some give and take and tolerance from both sides.

Mitch:

Definitely! I often go galavanting without Dan too, I cycled through ghana over 3 weeks with friends at Xmas. Cycle touring is another passion but that’s another interview!!!