TBT: The Gnar Where You Are

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Matt reckons you’re never more than a mile from a lip, step, drop or hit anywhere you go in the UK.

Words by Matt Letch, pictures by Sim Mainey.

I lived as a child in England’s own little answer to Holland – Suffolk. It’s flat. Very flat.

The desire to ride steps is as old as.. er.. steps

As a kid, bikes were a mixture of utility transport to get to the park and sweet shop, mixed up with an imaginary composite of Evel Knievel, CHiPs (no, not our Ed.) Californian highway patrol and a smattering of the Dukes of Hazzard and the Bionic Man.

My Puch Mini sprint bicycle (it had 24in wheels, don’t you know…) had been made radder by the procurement of a pair of massive ‘monkey bars’ from the spotty older kid down the road (you know the one, he smoked and always had oily hands but knew how to use a welder), and some knobbly tyres bought from the greengrocer (where vegetables, Dunlop Green Flash and bike spares were all available).

There were, as I recall, three major slopes at our disposal. Calling them hills or even hummocks would probably get me in trouble with the trade descriptions people. One of them was an artificial slope built at the top of the playing field. It was probably all of 15 metres long but super steep, with a ribbon of back pedal brake-applied singletrack worn into it. The second slope was a small hill named Hawks Mill, which provided some gravity-assisted excitement but was just basically a small tarmac hill which dropped into a hard right hander. It was insane on the go-kart we built and crashed, but nothing that would make either Evel or Steve Austin bat an eyelid.

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