Outside Interests: mountain biking

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 5 Nov 2014

Hamish Robertshaw

DTZ associate director Hamish Robertshaw talks about his enthusiasm for mountain biking.

How did you get into mountain biking?

While I was living in London some of my friends were into mountain biking so I bought a bike, took to the South Downs and before long had progressed to racing at a fantastic club, Eastway, which made way for the Olympic Park. Then when I moved up north I was let loose on rural areas: Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales and Forestry Commission trail centres in Scotland, north Wales and other parts of Yorkshire. 

What does it involve?

You don't have ride your bike that frequently to enjoy the sport, and can take off from your doorstep, ride along a canal towpath or pedal gently across a bridleway. I like to drive to a venue or rural area and then ride. I recently loaded up the car and drove to the Yorkshire moors to take part in an 'epic' ride, with rocks, jumps and drop-offs. Meanwhile a short time ago we did a DTZ-client mountain biking day at Dalby Forest near Scarborough. Cycling is the new golf in terms of what people like to do as a corporate activity.

Why do you do it?

For enjoyment, exhilaration and the adrenaline rush, few things can compete with mountain biking. It always amazes me how quickly you can vanish into the remote countryside or lose yourself on a really thrilling trail. I holiday at Morzine in the French Alps and some of the trails involve a ski lift up and white-knuckle ride down for an experience that's pure adrenaline. And the benefits go beyond the individual: mountain biking is a great driver for local economies, with bike shops, cafes and other hubs of activity sprouting up around well-known biking areas.

What’s the toughest thing about it?

Some of the trails are so tough. Check out Innerleithen in the Tweed Valley of the Scottish Borders. It offers some of the best mountain biking in the UK – and some of the hardest. It's a massive climb but the reward is in the shooting back down. I try not to fall off or crash but have had a few spills.

What’s the most rewarding thing about it?

Some of the places I've been to are out of this world; not just the Alps but Whistler in British Columbia, Canada, and Moab in Utah, Colorado, where I hire a bike and take to the trails – they are massively different environments. My ambition or dream is to move to a mountain-bike area, maybe the Highlands, and work in the sector or perhaps continue to balance planning with biking.

Are there any similarities between your day job and mountain biking?

Many friends from my course at Sheffield University, urban studies and planning, are fellow mountain bikers and it brings us together. This seems to be a sport very popular with people in planning and property; and a couple of years ago I organised a corporate 'Way of the Roses' coast-to-coast cycling event, which raised £30,000 for the property industry charity LandAid.

Do you have any unusual interests or hobbies that you would like to tell us about? If so, please email planning@haymarket.com