Holmbury Hill Hero

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I recently bought a GoPro Hero camera which has been taunting me from the kitchen table where it has been living a very un-extreme existence for the last couple of weeks. On Saturday I finally decided to see just how idiot-proof these things are and set off with the dogs for a ride over at Holmbury Hill on what turned out to be a beautiful morning. The sort of morning that it takes 3 months of back to back rain and ‘mizzle’ to really fully appreciate – and so it was clear blue skies and crisp temperatures of around 1-2 degrees when I pulled into the car park at 8 am just outside Holmbury St. Mary.

It was nearly half past by the time I’d finished faffing about with the various mounts to figure out how to get the camera in position (no, ‘finger tight’ isn’t sufficient to hold it in place – you’ll need a screwdriver) and the dogs were starting to wonder if they were ever going to get going. Patience in the face of a walk has never been their strong suit and they were quite willing to run off with anyone that so much as glanced in their direction. But get going we eventually did and what with the cool temperatures and the low early morning sun plunging the fir tree lined valleys into shade it was very reminiscent of an early morning ski as we set off to try and find a trail known as Barry Knows Best which I’d yet to ride on two previous rides here. I had a vague notion of where it was but it took a considerable amount of criss-crossing and double backing before I eventually stumbled across it. In the meantime I was able to try out the GoPro using a handlebar/ seatpost mount which I read somewhere was a great mount just so long as you don’t actually attach it to a mountain bike because it tends to result in fairly jerky and bumpy footage. What you really want is a helmet or chest mount but mine is still ‘in the post’ and besides, this was just a test ride to work out where the on/off switch was and generally just make rookie errors with the camera.

When all was said and done I had a muddy bike, one flat battery in the camera and two very happy but exhausted dogs in the car. So what did we learn?

1)      Holmbury Hill is an excellent place to go riding when everything else is soaked and caked in chalky/ clay mud. Trails were great to ride considering the winter we’ve endured.

2)      Filming with a GoPro at 60 frames per second gives you pretty smooth footage even if you’ve had to mount the camera on your handlebars. A full suspension set up didn’t hurt either!

3)      Even a luddite like me can (eventually) self-teach themselves how to use the edit software from GoPro (with a little help from the web and a browse of the very helpful “How To Use GoPro Hero 3″ by Jordan Hetrick which I would definitely recommend if you’re thinking of buying one of these toys but don’t know your HD from your FPS).

4)      Short and sweet. Keep clips short and mix up the point of view in your edit. Even I got bored watching an entire trail from the same point of view without a break.

5)      Vizslas are great dogs to run with a bike … but I knew that already!

So here it is … the finished product which is the first time I have ever managed to edit any sort of video footage and the first time I have ever uploaded anything to YouTube. Manage your expectations accordingly!

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