Mtb’s movers and shakers select their favourite places to ride

Matt Wragg is an increasingly reclusive photographer, writer and abuser of bicycles. As a young man he tried chasing success in a series of offices in Central London, but has spent the last decade trying to get as far away from that life as he can. He likes long walks on the beach, golden hour photoshoots and hiding from the modern world in the mountains of southern France.

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Matt’s overzealous trail grooming created a back yard wall of death

My best trail

“I’d love to have trails on my doorstep.” How many times have you heard this from other riders? If you look across the sport it’s the one dream that unites riders of all stripes: to be able to step out of the house and just ride. My favourite trail, Chez Nous, is about taking that dream literally. An abandoned hiking trail, it starts just below the Col de Braus and descends around 400m in less than 2km to finish on my doorstep. And when I talk about it being on my doorstep that is not talking figuratively, it really does finish at our front door – strictly it should carry on down into the valley below the house but it has long been blocked by impassable brambles.

In many ways I got the trail completely wrong. I was so busy pulling rocks out of the line that I got gradient blind, and what at the time seemed like a nice ow trail to cruise down turned out to be a plunge down the face of the mountain with the average gradient tipping past the 30 per cent mark. Not to mention the rock – fierce, jagged and immovable at the top, and loose, ever-rolling at the bottom. In all honesty, I roll down the fire road when it rains as it takes a turn for thsketchy with moisture, and not the ‘fun sliding around with a grin on your face sketchy’, but ‘holding on for grim life trying not to slip and go hurtling down the mountainside sketchy’. But for all its faults, it’s my trail. The 60-odd hours it took to retrace it and get it rideable again have formed a permanent bond. When it’s clean it’s almost fun and, most importantly, it never fails to put a grin on my face to roll straight from the trail into my front door.