Matt Pengelly is the host of The Shin Dig, a UK based media outlet for Trials that produces podcasts interviewing the best riders in the world and regular group ride videos around the London scene. Through both the podcast and the group rides, The Shin Dig is doing so much to bring the culture of the sport to life. Here’s five questions (plus one bonus question that I had to include) with your favorite podcast host!

What's your riding background?

My riding background comes from falling in love with bikes when I was 3-4. I was the first kid in the school to ride without stabilizers, I knew cycling would be my sport. Had multiple MTB bikes through the years and at around the age of 13-14, I saw my first MTB Trials show with Marty Ashton. After seeing the high level skill of balance, control that could be achieved on a MTB trials bike, I knew I wanted to do that.

It wasn't long till I was out, trying tricks, jumping on /off things that shouldn't be ridden. We didn't have any kind of Trials course, so we made the most of our local streets and walls! - Fast forward 6 years later (2013), I'm riding alongside THE legend himself, Martyn Ashton, performing a show, in front of thousands of people in the London Excel.

How did Shin Dig start?

I had the idea for The Shin Dig back in 2018 when I started getting really into Podcasts myself, but I knew the scene was missing more discussions in the sport and a place for well known riders to tell their story. With over 2 million+ podcasts, not one was for Trials. So with my technical background and access to equipment, I felt it was my duty to do it, I just hadn't come up with a name yet. When the Pandemic hit, it gave me the time I needed to come up with the 'brand' and really run with my ideas.
I have to give some credit to Tom Hutley, who really helped push making my idea into a reality.
It wasn't long till we realised we should also film our rides, whatever happens, and see if people enjoy it... that's when the vlogs were born!

Has there ever been anything that surprised you on the podcast, either from the guests or the response to the podcast itself?

Haven't had any major surprises on the podcast, other than how many huge named riders actually agreed to come on and talk with us! Having spoken to some of the biggest names in the sport, I feel we may have peaked too early.. haha.

The UK scene is one of the biggest in the world - and light years ahead of what we have here in the USA. What do you think is the driving force behind the sport in the UK?

I believe the UK has such a strong following, with a few factors contributing to its popularity.

1. Passionate community. The UK scene is highly passionate about the sport and supportive of its riders. There are many local forums, social media groups and regular in-person events from fun street rides, to carefully organised competitions where riders can connect, share tips and encourage each other.
Being a small island most riders all know each other, which creates a very tight knit group, all coming together and sharing the same passion we all have.

2. Locations; There are many areas you could ride Trials, from natural obstacles, to urban buildings or just a sidewalk. Making it easy to find suitable spots to practice or compete.

3. Professional Riders; There are several highly skilled professional Trials riders based in the UK - Danny MacAskill, Ali Clarkson, Andrei Burton, Jack Carthy - all doing their own thing to make it their jobs! Having gained large followings and winning multiple competitions, I believe it helps to raise the profile of the sport and inspire new riders to try it out!

4. Regular group rides; Group rides offer a chance to connect with like-minded people and share the experience. Riders can chat, JOKE, and give each other encouragement and support, making it much more enjoyable. Trials are often difficult and demanding sports, attempting obstacles alone can be daunting. In a group you can tackle obstacles together and share strategies to overcome them, making it more achievable and rewarding. Riding with other riders can offer chances to learn new skills and techniques. Receive feedback and guidance on how to improve, especially helpful for the newbies who want to develop and progress their skills.

Overall having a good combination of passionate community, accessible locations and regular events, helps create a healthy drive for the Trials scene.

One thing that I like most about watching the Shin Dig group rides is how much you show the context around the riding. It's not just about capturing an insane riding clip (although there is some incredible riding in there) - it's about the camaraderie between the riders and the fun that you're having. We don't really get to see that in ANY other Trials content anywhere else. Why is it so important to include that kind of stuff?

Just like any sport, Trials can be taken quite seriously, when most of us are doing it for fun. Taken too seriously, can knock the fun completely out of it.

The bottom line for most of us in the UK is we do it for FUN! And we like to show everyone what happens on our group rides. Many of my friends didn't truly know what I did on my bike till they watched these videos. And now even though they don't ride themselves, they watch them regularly, because they're almost as fun to watch as being part of them, laughter can cure a lot, and it's contagious! I've had parents over in Europe say we got their children back into Trials, because they realise they don't have to compete to be part of the sport.
The group ride allows ANYONE of ALL LEVELS to join and be part of the community.

I have to ask...what is YOUR biggest Shin Dig?

My worst Shin Dig? - I tend to get them when doing big gaps, as this is when I'm leaping forward most, with my weight off the pedals. There are 2 pretty bad ones that I will always remember. Again both from gaps..

Secret about me; When I first started trials I wore shin pads for 3 years..

A massive thanks to Matt for sharing some insight into the Shin Dig. Listen to the Shin Dig podcast on Spotify, iTunes or YouTube - and definitely subscribe to both their main channel as well as their podcast channel on YouTube.

The Shin Dig Trials T-Shirt

The Shin Dig T-Shirt

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