Living in the UK, we have some brilliant MTB hot spots to keep us busy all year around, meaning we can enjoy that freedom feeling whenever we like. However, weather conditions can be volatile and unpredictable - so what do we do then?
Well, you can embrace the weather in all its fine mystery - getting out and hitting the trails with a wide grins on your muddy face come rain, wind or shine. Alternatively, you can get your trail fixes elsewhere, which is where Dirt Factory comes in to play.
The Dirt Factory indoor bike park venture is still in its infancy, but with the support of some big names and the biking community, it could be opening up sooner than you think.
We caught up with one of the five directors, Mark McClure, who is the chief trail designer and builder of the indoor park. He boasts a wealth of experience building trails all over the world, including Andreu Lacondeguy's line at Red Bull Rampage 2015, and his winning line in 2014.
What is Dirt Factory?
The plan is to build an indoor bike park in the Greater Manchester area, and we don't mean a skate park... we mean, a proper bike park. Sounds nuts, but it's already working overseas in the US.
The objective is to make mountain biking accessible in any conditions, to any rider. Mark told us: "Most of all we want everyone to feel welcome at Dirt Factory. Mountain biking truly is a sport for all, grab a bike, strap on a helmet (and a smile!) and give it a try!"
Production has begun - and the team are looking for an October opening - Mark says: "Our aim is to be open to the public in October 2016, just in time for riders to escape the bad weather and long nights."
In some 80,000sq ft of warehouse, the Dirt Factory team intend to cater for all ages, skill and adrenaline levels with a Tot-Track kids area, Skills zone, Pump Track, Dirt Jumps, Freeride line, XC single track trails and plenty more. What's really exciting is their aim to literally bring the outside in. Dirt jumps, made from genuine dirt, and trails with outdoor features like trees and terrains to replicate the outside feel. The benefit of this is that it allows the builders to re-mould the trails easily, keeping it fresh for the riders.
Who is Dirt Factory?
There are 5 key team members running the Dirt Factory show: Dan, Andy, Ian, Gary and Mark, all bringing their knowledge and expertise to the table. These areas cover trail building, business, marketing and everything MTB.
In addition to themselves, the Dirt Factory boys support female rider Bex Baraona, who won the Red Bull Foxhunt with Rachel Atherton last year, and who will be racing the EWS this year.
Dirt Factory has secured support from of the top professional riders such as Hans Rey, Andreu Lacondeguy and Danny Macaskill to name a few, and they've also had the support of 300+ volunteers, all willing to assist with the building and development of Dirt Factory.
Dirt Factory Women
Total Women's Cycling is all about the promotion and development of women who ride bikes, so when a new project like this opens, we love to hear what their thoughts and views are on helping support the female riding community, as well as the grass-root riders.
Mark explains that in addition to after-school groups and private coaching sessions, he plans to do plenty for women specifically - saying: "There is a wealth of female riding talent here in the UK already and I would love to see more girls taking part in mountain biking.
"[I get] really inspired working with ladies like Kat Sweet, Lindsey Voreis and Tammy Donahugh. [I] hope to bring them over to run some women's camps here, like they do in the US".
Dirt Factory will also be running regular ladies nights, organising demo days with pro female riders, and hosting all-girls dirt jump competitions.
"There is a wealth of female riding talent here in the UK already and I would love to see more girls taking part in mountain biking."
How Can We Help?
"Our aim is to be open to the public in October 2016, just in time for riders to escape the bad weather and long nights"
Dirt Factory are looking to raise £200,000 to secure a site and begin development in early May 2016. On January 31st, they're hosting a launch event to kick-start their crowd-funding campaign, which is free to attend. The funding portal will be launched on crowdcube.com on February 1st and will run for the entire month - you'll be able to purchase shares in the Dirt Factory company as a means of investment, so you can own a piece of it too!
To attend the launch event, follow their Facebook page for updates and more information.
Anything that promotes mountain biking in the UK is a good thing, and I think a safe indoor environment is what the UK needs to nurture up-and-coming talent, and showcase more of what the UK has to offer in mountain bike facilities.
The Dirt Factory team are experienced riders with a passion to further the growing community of riders.