Singletrack Issue 119: Was It All A Dream

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Chipps looks back at the colossal impact of the original Malvern Classic event and asks if the ‘new’ one can ever live up to the hype.

Words chipps Photography Geoff Waugh and steve behr/stockfile

Remember those long, hot summers of your youth? The sun shone brightly every endless day and you got to ride your best bike all day on baked-hard dirt, worn bald of grass by the constant passing of feet and tyres.

On a grassy hillside, you’d set up a dual eliminator slalom course, with friends riding elbow to elbow for bragging rights. And on those really hot days you’d set up a shonky ramp and launch someone else’s old BMX into the lake to cool off, putting in an X-up for good measure before you splashed down to the cheer of the crowd. 

And then, as the sun went down, you’d crack open a few beers and sit on the grass by your Vauxhall Nova, its sound system pumping out the latest dance tunes. Life was good. 

And this did actually happen. For a few brief years between the late ’80s and mid ’90s, Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire was the site of a now-iconic event that happened every summer, nearly always in perfect weather. This event was both inspirational and massively influential for the British mountain bike scene and those who went to it.  

The event, of course, was the original Malvern Hills Classic and it seemed to have captured the zeitgeist of British mountain biking at the time. Of course, pre-emptively calling it a ‘Classic’ didn’t hurt, but it really was the, THE, event to be at every year if you were a British mountain biker. 

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