been riding mtbs since i was 10 (1989)
Was hooked after a friend took me around Harewood house trails (Leeds) Came off a fair few times but its all fun!
Not been without a bike since then
rundown of my bikes -
First stead was a blue Peugeot Niagra with the gorgeous shimano 200sx!
but what was even worse was its size, 21 inch frame and i'm 5' 6' tall
you'll grow into it was the reason... i'm still 5'6'
Next up was my dad's Saracen Sahara Elite (Black with purple graphics) which he never used. Had a nice mix of LX and DX thumshifters. Got a Rockshox quadra on the front from Stif which was surprisingly good! Oh and a Girvin Flexstem which ate rubbers.
And onto a Carrera E-stay frame with full XT which i mainly bought for the groupset as the whole bike was £550. So sold the frame and transferred all the gear onto the Saracen. This was promptly stolen from my garage a few months after...
Then with the insurance money i bought my first Kona kileau (cant remember how to spell it!) it was the model below the KULA. Had LX/XT and a very light Prestige frame. Marzocchi xc500's which were a bit flexy but play with the oil weight/height and you had one of the best forks of the day (bar a ROND) Also had the best thumbshifters of the day Suntour XC Pro. Damn i loved thumbys
This lasted 2 weeks then was stolen from outside Chevin Cycles, Otley. I swear i was just 2 mins inside getting some power bars! I'll admit it wasnt locked but i could see it through the window. Anyway the insurance amazing paid out for an identical replacement
Dont think they would nowadays!
So it was Kona Kileau MK2 This time added a Hope Fatso/mavic front wheel I built myself. Pace bar and Flite saddle. Also favorite tyres of the day Smoke/Dart combo. And you'll never guess... it was stolen from the garage again!! The window had a wooden frame which didnt stand up to the 3 foot crow bar they left behind!
The Insurance yet again paid up for my 1996 PACE F5 which i still own today. It then had LX/XT and an MXCD Pace fork. Its had 4 groupsets since and now has LX and a Marzocchi Bomber MX Comp. It has seen a fair bit of use and has been back to the factory for cracks in the welds behind the headtube. Pace repaired it re-anodised and stickerd it up for free of course
Love this bike to bits. I dont wash wash it as often as i should but i promise i'll try and do it more
I got right into the downhill scene of the day which wasnt really that hardcore to be honest! But i still needed a suspension frame and so i selected a Specialized FSR with Fox rear shock. Same design as Jason McCroy Rode. Put a Marzocchi DH3 in anodised green on the front. Maguras were added to help with the extra speed. The Fox rear shock lasted a year or so then i managed to put a large crack in it jumping down the leeds Uni stairs, doh. Got another sourced and tuned by Tim Flukes for bigger hits. This really made a difference. This frame is now sitting in my loft due to the rear bushes wearing out and giving me rear wheel steering. Its metal bush rather than ball bearing so a pain in the arse to replace. So along came...
An Anodised Orange GT LTS DH
This was a revalation in handling and smooth suspension travel. Put a Marzocchi Bomber Z1 and a chain device made by a racer Stefan Gleed (Marin). This was the business till the downhills got a whole lot harder in 1998. My Bomber couldnt cope with the exteme angles and pressure on its seals. Harder springs were used but still too much for it. The maguras inherited from the FSR literally melted on most Scottish courses. And then it happened.... I crashed out several times in one week and landed on the same knee. Being a bloke and well ard
i didnt really let up and continued pushing myself. I had started running to cross train my muscles. This was the final straw. My knee took one last hit and then was pronounced dead at the scene. 6 weeks off the bike and still swolen i couldnt keep racing. So that ws that. The LTS was used for the odd cross country ride till 2003 when it was stripped for parts to go on the weary Pace. I'm thinking of resurrecting it soon as an XC machine. Still looks amazing. The rear shock has lost most of its oil through a dodgy seal so i'll need another. But its still worth it!
So along came the Specialized BIG HIT Mk1 with USD DNM forks. Hope big un hubs and hope M4 brakes! I had a knee operation in 2006 which gave me hope (pardon the pun) so i bought this beast
The rear travel on this thing is endless.. So plush. Looks/rides virtually identical to the Intense M1 at a 1/3 of the cost!
I've been building the knee up and its feeling pretty damn good now. Have even ventured to the dark side (road bikes) to help with its recovery. Got an Eddie Merckx Team SC (Scanduim) with Campag Record which makes it more bareable!
So this is the year i start racing again
Wish me luck! I'll need it!