A Bike Love Affair | My Ragley Piglet

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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?

Do I love my bike? Ragley Piglet
Where it all began

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?

Do I love my bike? Ragley Piglet
Solo adventures became more frequent

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.

Do I love my bike? Ragley Piglet
Destinations became more remote

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.

Do I love my bike? Ragley Piglet
This was a bad day

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.

Comments (6)

    perfect singletrack prose, miss this deeply connected why we ride.

    Nice, but a sad end.

    The way this story should end is that the bike is ridden for years until the frame cracks and it’s then mounted on the garage wall.

    I’ve been lucky to have 4 bikes I thought like this about. 1 cracked (well out of warranty) and is still in the garage, 1 cracked (2 months left on the 5 year warranty) and had to be visibly destroyed to claim, 1 was stolen, I’m still angry about the one that was stolen.

    My current bike is also special and a “keeper”.

    What a poignant story.

    I totally get the joy of the steel hardtail, I recently built up an orange P7 in the same way, ebay frame, some old drive train, bit and bobs, some favourite wheels, odds and ends bought in the end of season sales.

    Riding it quickly got to me, just continually surprises how capable and fun it is.

    Hope the old bike shows up Amanda, but if not I hope the new one brings you all and more of the good stuff.

    Lovely piece of writing Amanda. Hope you get the bike back but if not, enjoy whatever bike you get to replace it!

    This is a proper love letter to MTB. Such a shame some inconsiderate bum took it from you. I really do hope it gives them nightmares!

    gosh I really loved my first proper mtb which was a cannondale with caad4 frame, fatty headshock 26in disc specific wheels and cannondale’s own disc brakes. I think it had 35mm of travel on the fork but it was light and taught me how to ride a mtb from coed y brenin to the alps. ultimately it nearly killed me, but hey love is never easy. hope you may get it back.

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