The day my new Ragley Piglet frame arrived I washed my hands before opening the box. I didn’t want to put any fingerprints on it before I’d applied the EcoCoat ceramic glaze. Because god forbid I scratch the paintwork on a steel commuter, right?
The build was a mash up of parts I already had, some donations and some new purchases. The Fox Transfer dropper was actually the first ever component I bought for a bike, chosen for the fact it was mechanical and easy for me to fix if it ever broke. It didn’t fit this frame, but I had a shim made out of a beer can that seemed to do the trick. (Vocation Heart & Soul).
My first ride was on the red downhill line at Havok Bike Park. I’d taken the Piglet up to get some pack shots of it and figured that I knew the track so well it would be a good first ride. I giggled the whole way down, and emerged back at the hut with the biggest grin on my face. It shouldn’t have been fun! It’s steep, rocky, rooty, greasy, most of the jumps are too big for me, but I loved it. I could feel the entire trail and knew how much my riding would progress from riding an unforgiving, short travel hardtail. Maybe I should do more than commute on it?
From that day on, I rode everywhere on the Piglet. My two commute options were either a blast down the road, or up and over the moors eventually leading to a rocky switchback descent. It was that climb that taught me I’d need to stand up a lot more on a hardtail. It was the switchback descent that I learnt how to corner on.
I rode all the Hebden Bridge techy trails, where I learnt how to be a bit looser to save my lower back from feeling like I had kidney damage. I rode Ilkley Moors and learnt how to get my back wheel out in a somewhat controlled fashion. I rode Havok some more. I got better at jumping. I had a new concept of steep – if I could read the word ‘Fox’ on the back of my seatpost, it was steep enough.
The gears started skipping and I was struggling to index them, so James suggested I check the cassette wasn’t loose. The rear axle was a bit stiff… nope, it was stuck. Ross tried, Andi, Chipps, Ross again, until eventually we took a drill to it. It was this day I learnt to do a bolt check on dropouts before you build a bike up, because they were only finger tight.
Over time the seat post had shuffled further into the frame, only a few millimetres but when you spend this much time on a bike, you notice these things. I tried to pull it back out but the beer can shim had seized with the steel frame. Ha. Nice one, Amanda.
Seasons changed, punctures happened, cable rub appeared. I had spent countless hours hammering this bike up the steep Calderdale bridleways. I’d enjoyed many solo picnics with just my Piglet for company. I’d taken tourist photos of it over the entire valley. I LOVED my Ragley Piglet. I often wished it were a 29er, or a bit longer, or a bit lighter, but it was mine and I had no intention of replacing it.
I learnt so much during my short time with this bike, all of which seemed menial at the time but collectively has shaped me into a much more confident and controlled rider, with a better knowledge of bikes and maintenance. I’m very fortunate to work somewhere that gives me the opportunity to ride top end carbon bikes, big travel enduros, e-MTBs. But a steel hardtail is the one I’ll remember forever.
To the balaclava’d man that stole my bike, I hope the shim cuts you when you take my four year old seatpost out of my scuffed, dirty frame. I hope you like the big scratch on the stanchions. I hope you don’t realise there’s a certain custom made component, and you get caught out with it. I hope my pedals are a bitch to get out, because I definitely didn’t grease them. I have my memories, you have my bike. I doubt either of us are happy.