A dirt bike rider stands in the woods
All photos by Morgan Gray.
Life

Mud, Blood and Friendship: Photos of An English Dirt Bike Community

This photo essay by Morgan Gray Williams is a tender reflection on teenage masculinity, and being a part of something bigger than yourself.
October 13, 2021, 8:30am

On a muddy plot of land in the outskirts of Bath, Somerset, a community of young and like-minded dirt bike riders meet up every week to ride, chat, do jumps, get hurt and generally live out the spoils of being young.

They were chanced upon by the photographer, Morgan Gray Williams, while he was out on a long walk around the city – something that had become a daily habit during lockdown. His resulting photography essay, Dirt Riders, is a tender reflection on teenage masculinity and the cocoon of community.

“There were people there of all ages and from all walks of life,” explains Williams, “but as the project progressed, the group’s younger members became my main focus. They seemed representative of youth culture as a whole: toxic masculinity, ego, love, identity, passion, adolescence, and, ultimately, friendship.”

As he spent more and more time amongst the riders, he got to know more about their interpersonal relationships and life experiences. “I resonated with their attachment to the community and each other because I was part of a similar community when I was their age,” he says. “With all the pressures, pains and perplexities of school, family and growing up, I sought a connection to something bigger than myself. I feel as though this project depicts those nuances of navigating youth and constructing an identity within a like-minded community that allows you to feel safe, acknowledged and understood."

A dirt bike rider takes a bong hit.

Photo: Morgan Gray

Tracks in the mud.

Photo: Morgan Gray

The boys have a barbecue.

Photo: Morgan Gray

Tree carvings.

Photo: Morgan Gray

One of the riders with a broken arm.

Photo: Morgan Gray

A bike sticker reads "TORY SCUM".

Photo: Morgan Gray

Cuts and bruises on a rider's shoulder.

Photo: Morgan Gray

A rider smoking a joint.

Photo: Morgan Gray

A tattoo reads, "Happiness, only real when shared."

Photo: Morgan Gray

A rider with a love bite.

Photo: Morgan Gray

A rider wearing a helmet.

Photo: Morgan Gray

The boys get high.

Photo: Morgan Gray

A rider helps dig the jumps.

Photo: Morgan Gray