I often get asked why I don’t race. I mean, I’m quite into my bikes and, although I’m not terribly fast and I’m sure I’ve got some dodgy techniques, I’m not always at the back of the pack when I’m out riding either. So, the logical assumption most people make is that I could do decent enough at races if I put in a bit of time training, got a bit of coaching to correct techniques and actually entered some races.
Not for me.
Races just don’t appeal to me. I’ll not say ‘never’, but certainly at the moment I’ve no interest in racing. It’s not even that I don’t admire racers; it’s just simply not for me.
Over the weekend, I went riding at Lady Cannings again with some of the No Name Syndicate (NNS); Andy, from TotalMTB; and a chap I’d not met before called Alex. If I’m not wrong, the NNS was set up as a bit of a mick- take to begin with, poking fun at the rise of Instagram race teams that seemed to be popping up at the time. Not in a malicious way, of course. More ‘anyone can call themselves a team, it doesn’t mean you’re any good’ sort of way. And I love that. The whole thing with the NNS is just about getting a bunch of people out together riding and having a fun. There’s no application process, there’s not even really a team – it’s just a banner under which anyone looking to have a mess about on their bike and get some laughs going in the woods can connect with. Nothing more, nothing less.
For me, this is exactly the sort of attitude towards bikes that I have. In fact, if you do a bit of digging about on the NNS website you’ll find a cringe inducing photo where I’m stood alongside some of the NNS boys trying not to wet myself whilst posing like the world’s best boyband. They’re a top bunch and the whole ethos of ‘just ride’ suits me. There’s no manhood measuring or ‘my bike’s better than yours’ rubbish. It’s just good old-fashioned riding.
And that’s what happened at Lady Cannings. We rode the actual trails and nobody gave a monkeys about Strava. James and I had a good chat about various bike parts and ribbed Gareth for his regularity for crashing. And Gareth got his phone out and snapped all these shots (which I’m super happy to say he let me use). Andy and I had a good laugh trying out some lines and he kept me on my toes by drying to drop me on Blue Steel. And Alex made us all look useless by peddling round on his retro bike with 4 gears, or something like that.
We rode some of the other stuff up on the moorland above the trails and found some terrible lines and sessioned them to make them work. They weren’t the quickest choice – they were the most ridiculous ones we could find – but it was a laugh toppling off the bike and ripping into each other with banter. Something about cocking my leg like a dog, if I remember rightly.
It’s stuff like this which makes bikes for me. Sure, I don’t mind a pedal around on my own from time to time. Sometimes, I love a good solo blast pushing as fast as I can. But give me the choice of: ride on my own or ride with mates… it’ll be mates every time. Speed doesn’t mean squat to me, fun does and, at the minute, I get a lot of fun from just messing about without the pressure of being at places at certain times to race certain events and try to beat certain times.