Connected: Buildthewoods

James Goodwin, hip one-foot invert before diving into a switchback berm. Rich Homer

In that distant period some call the "Time Before Internet," word and news traveled via landlines and letters. Keeping a BMX scene together took a lot of work back then. But these days, quality scene sites and blogs are popping up almost every day making it a whole lot easier. The task now is providing something new and creating something high quality and legit enough to stand the test of time. What you need is a good idea in the first place and creative riders who genuinely care about it to pull it off: and here's one example.

BuildTheWoods is a place that aims to bind trails riders, diggers, and builders together on one expanding Web site, with scenes getting involved and posting their own updates, photos, news and more besides, in order to help grow the trails scene in general. Riders can see how other trails spots are developing, which in turn may inspire some to break out the tools and do the same, then post their own news and photos, and so on and so on. As its base is in Bristol, England, BTW started out covering the UK trails scene, but now it's growing overseas with more and more spots joining the site -- and if you have your own trails scene, you too can get stuck in. It's a simple idea, it looks good and it's working well -- so we spoke to Rich Homer, who put down his shovel long enough to let us know more.

So how long has Buildthewoods been going for then?
Well the site started at the beginning of 2009 after we started rebuilding Burlish trails. I was talking to Milk and he wanted somewhere we could post things about the trails, but thought we wouldn't have enough to keep it entertaining enough to keep checking out. So we basically thought if we could get a few people all updating one site, then it would be a good read. I got a basic Wordpress blog going, Milk came up with the BuildTheWoods name and I asked a few people we knew if they were up for it and it all grew from there really. The revamped Version 2 came about after I asked for help from designers and Elwood Ruffle came forward and helped. He designed the t-shirts firstly, then put together the rad site design to go with them. He was too tied up with work, so in the end I built the Web site side of things, but all credit is definitely due to Elwood. Without his help and insight, Version 2 most certainly wouldn't be half as good as it managed to come out. It took a while longer than planned, but V2 came out at the start of December.

What made you want to start a site like this in the first place?
Well, we didn't think we'd update a single scene site as much as we'd like, so we thought getting a few people involved would keep a fresh blog with plenty of content, basically a place you can check frequently. I wasn't aware of anything similar, so I thought it would be something different and was worth a shot. I've done a few blogs in the past and these days it's so easy to set up something, I figured there wasn't much to lose if it didn't take off.

I suppose it is a social networking site in the loosest sense of the term. The idea was purely to have one place where you can check out all that's going on without having to spend hours going to loads of sites.

--Rich Homer/Buildthewoods

How does it work?
The site runs using the Wordpress content management system which is super clean and very user-friendly. If a scene or spot wants to get involved, all it takes is an e-mail to me, I set them up an account and then they can log in and post anytime they want. At the moment I'm the only one who posts anything in the BuildTheWoods name and I update the new Version 2 Deluxe Video channel. Every account can edit their own stuff and I generally just check people's posts to keep it all formatted roughly the same. It's never too much though, everyone who posts on the site has been doing a good job so far.

Was the idea to build the community of trails scenes and help link them together?
I suppose it is a social networking site in the loosest sense of the term. The idea was purely to have one place where you can check out all that's going on without having to spend hours going to loads of sites. I definitely think individual sites are still necessary, but it's good to look one place to see if there's anything worth checking out rather than looking at 20 to see none.

I guess, also, the variety of scenes and new photos of new sets online helps inspire people to dig as well.
Yeah, for me I totally agree. It's very inspirational to see anything that anyone else is doing or planning. I can't think of how many times I've studied videos and photos to see what other people are up to. With so many different spots, types of dirt and style of building, there will never be identical trails, but sharing ideas can only make everyone's spots even better.

How do you get around the problem of some spots keeping it a secret? I guess, don't get involved with Buildthewoods, right?
I'm not sure if I see it as a problem really. I totally respect that some people want to keep their spots totally underground and that's fine with me. These days there's so many problems with landowners, insurance, etc that if by keeping them quiet means there's a spot that exists, then I don't want to ruin that. Plenty of people on the site post under a trails nickname, so nothing is really given away and I wouldn't want them to.

How many trails spots have become involved with the site?
Currently we have 39 sets of trails with accounts, although not all of them have posted stuff. There's been roughly 30 scenes that have put stuff up on the site so far.

So is it mainly UK, or are you looking further afield, to add overseas scenes?
It is mainly UK, but we've got a couple of overseas spots involved. Siligna have a rad looking spot and they're in New Zealand and Heavy Nettle are in Canada. I've got no objections from anyone from anywhere who wants an account. Going back to the inspiration comment, the more spots, the more inspiration there will be.

What are some of the finer spots on Buildthewoods at the moment?
There's plenty from what I can tell and I wouldn't there's any that aren't fine. There's the usual well known spots like Chertsey and Barend and less well known like Moo's. There's definitely a good mix of spots, locations and building styles.

Can you see the standards of trails building increasing right now?
Oh yeah definitely, without a doubt. If you check out Boyd's blog, DigForVictory, you will have seen the pictures of some French trails that were out of this world -- they were bordering on perfection. Add that with images from Sasquatch/PAWoods and a whole load of others that have been floating about, people are getting more adventurous and dialing in their spots to perfection! The days of rough shapes and carpet seem to be long gone.

How's your own spot right now?
I'm probably the most happy with my local spot that I have been with years. I recently moved to Bristol and have been welcomed into the Digmore family with open arms. The spot is rad, the people are radder and it's great to have a scene that people are genuinely stoked on and motivated to dig at, something that's been lacking back home for too long.

So what's the future for Buildthewoods?
I suppose I should have plans but they're pretty loose at the moment -- read non-existent! I guess I'd like more original content, more scenes posting, more content more regularly. I guess things that every blog aims to achieve. I would love to produce a video, but without anyone who films close at hand, that might be difficult. Coming from a photography background, I'd love to produce something print / photo based around the trails, but I think that's more of a pipedream I guess. As long as the site keeps growing and people are still stoked on it then I'm happy.

Check Buildthewoods for the latest.