In December of 2017 I bought my dream bike. My parents helped persuade me with their mantra of “you can’t take money to the grave; live your life” – especially my dad. He’d been into his scooters and road bikes at my age and I guess he’d spent a fair bit on them. Both of my parents value happiness over money and recently my mum has been trying to persuade me to sell the house up and either move to Canada or buy a camper van.

After months of research, I bought a Santa Cruz Bronson. I didn’t even test ride it. I knew what size I wanted and that I needed something a little more aggressive than the cross-country orientated Specialized Camber I had before that. The rest was all down to specs… and I’d laboured over reviews, videos and all sorts of information online. Truthfully, I think it had all raised more questions than it had solved anything in my head. In the end, I hit the buy button on Stif’s website and that was that. It turned up on the 17th, right before Christmas.

I’ve no intention of getting rid of it any time soon. I enjoy riding it. It’s playful, fast and in a size medium which is nice and easy to throw around. I actually measure right on the boundary of a medium and a large but often get asked why I’m not on a bigger bike. If you’ve read the blog before, or you know me, the answer is obvious: speed doesn’t mean a thing to me; having fun does. All the components on the bike work beautifully and it’s well looked after. I’d still say it’s my dream bike now, although I wouldn’t mind getting on one of the new Bronsons and seeing what they’re like.

Because I’ve no intention of swapping it in for something else, I’ve not spend much time on any other bikes. I went to the Specialized Trail Days event last year and rode a Turbo Kenevo and a Stumpjumper. They were great and I liked them but I was happy to get back on the Bronson the week after. Last week, for TotalMTB, I was asked to review an Orbea Rallon. A four grand bit of kit with all the latest gear. It was just another thing for me to do to get content for the website and, honestly, I wasn’t really bothered about driving 50 minutes out of my way to go and pick it up before heading to Greno to test it. But I did it. If nothing else, I figured it’d make a good excuse to ride all weekend because I had to get it back to the shop before closing on the Sunday.

The Orbea turned out to be a great bit of kit and way more playful than I’d anticipated. A few runs in and I’d almost got used to the 29er wheels and the slightly longer reach on the frame. It went like a bat out of Hell too. I’m not sure why, but it did. Maybe because of the larger wheels, maybe because of the geometry – I don’t know – but it went like the clappers. A few times I caught myself overshooting things and slamming into berms a little too fast for my own comfort but it put a smile on my face. At one point I overcooked a jump on the Steel City run and ended up sliding along on my backside. It left a pretty good graze that’s only just finished up healing but thankfully the bike didn’t have any damage at all.

As well as riding the Orbea, I managed to get the camera out too. Ryan, from TotalMTB, and George came out to play and we sessioned Pub Run again and again getting loads of different angles and playing with the drone. Honestly, days like this are way more fun for me than heading out and riding 20 miles. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I love a pedal as much as the next guy, but most of the time I’m happy practising skills on the same bit of trail again and again.

All in all, a great day out doing what I love. Photos and bikes always makes me happy. Throw in some excellent company and good weather and it’s golden. In the end, I didn’t even mind the extra faff of going out to pick the bike up and drop it off… although I did miss the Bronson.