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Charlie’s Greatest Airs: Not Jumpy – Not Grumpy.

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We have just had 100 of our “Not Jumpy – Not Grumpy” mugs delivered to Singletrack Towers, and that got me thinking: I am not that happy in the air. Come with me as we scramble through over 40 years of riding bikes in the woods, badly.

The 70’s

In the 70’s I was handy at getting air on a “Tracker”, a pre mountain bike single speed roadster with skinny tyres and wide cow horn bars. We would buy these old bikes for 35p and spend £1.50 on the bars. The brake cables often wouldn’t reach on the super wide bars, so they often had no brakes. Yeah, I got some good airs, but I was 7 years old, invincible, and mums were ok with natural selection in 1979. We would launch off this chalk mound, and I could land beyond the fallen tree. Man, I felt like Evel bloody Knievel.

jumpy grumpy
Err no, that is not what 7 year old Charlie was thinking. Chipps: please explain this.

Getting rad in the 80’s

Then BMX came along. At first I just looked on as kids wheelied for miles and bunny hopped over smaller, easily persuaded, more vulnerable kids. They were happy to get some attention, even if it the attention was a Kuwahara in their ribs. I then bought a used Raleigh Burner for about £12, but it folded in two after a small jump in the local park. However one summer evening, my mate Simon King, he got a run up across Alton town park, all the way from the toilets, to the mound beside the band stand, sprinting like crazy, speed will make this work, launched, flew like an eagle, at least 10 foot out, started to over rotate, and did the most perfect nose dive, 90.0 degree angle of impact, there was nothing he could do, but he could see it coming, and completely smashed his daddy batteries on the stem. To this day his friends still laugh about that. I am laughing as I type right now. Ha haaa Kinga! But you know what, he groaned, rolled around, didn’t get up for quite sometime, but he was not grumpy and laughed it off.

jumpy grumpy
Just like this, but on a BMX, with no protection, and not intentional. Credit: RedBull

Bouncy Bike 90’s

In the 90’s suspension bikes became a thing, and there was a five foot drop off on a local golf course that was fun. Well. It was fun until my Specialized FSR snapped. 80mm of travel versus 5 foot, either the maths or the rider was wrong. I also went back to my 70’s tracker bike jump on the FSR, and despite the modern tech, I could not get beyond the fallen tree? Surely 7-year-old Charlie was not more jumpy than twenty something year old Charlie? Maybe someone moved the tree?

Trail Centre 00’s

After that the evolution of trail centres gave us some really easy airs, but again I was not remotely competent. For the first time we were riding jumps that were designed to be jumps, rather than riding a fortunate consequence of landscape gardening or quarrying. Occasionally I would get a big air, surprise myself, and roll away with almost zero dignity. Shunning gears and suspension didn’t help, but did provide a handy excuse. Still not jumpy nor grumpy.

Right here, right now.

Jumping through time to 2021 and at almost 50 years old I have managed to maintain my remarkably mediocre skills by acquiring a Cotic, with not only rear suspension, but also modern geometry. On this I am delighted to say I am as shite as I ever was… and for me, at my age, with these wrists, I am taking that as some sort of improvement. I am not actually getting worse, and I am still having shed loads of fun.

A Cotic Flare, safely on the ground, and still looking rad. Credit: Cotic

Back To The Future

The plan from here on is the classic middle aged strategy of throwing money at it, and buying my way to not getting much worse. Simply trying to decelerate my decline with money. Ten years from now I will be on my 300mm travel ebike, with a “middle aged rad” setting, one click up from “Turbo”, that will compensate for everything. Hey, I might even have it rigged up with Virtual Reality goggles that will convince me 6 inches is 6 foot? Whatever Cher says to her plastic surgeon, that will be much the same as my conversations in bike shops: “Please, I beg you, help me ride young again, I can pay”. No matter what happens, I will still be…. not jumpy, and not grumpy.

Bike bikes, have fun, it’s ok to be a bit crap.

Singletrack Not Jumpy Not Grumpy 426ml Coffee Mug

A fresh crate of our fine portly pottery is now in stock.

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Comments (8)

    My 9 year old hits that same mound, right by the band stand, in Alton town park now. Its still a great mound!

    @jef-wachowchow that is so good to hear. When writing this I wanted to name check that mound… in the hope kids are still hitting it. Thanks for confirming. If you want to have a go at the 70s jump… that is ackender woods, just before the first bombhole… probably impossible to find after so long.

    All still there, down the right hand track about 400 yards if we are talking about the same jump. Though forestry work has currently buried it under timber too large for my folding saw to cope with. Hopefully it will be cleared in due time. Lots of lovely little runs in that woods and Chawton up the way. I live 2 mins ride away so its my local patch.

    Ha, that was a great read! Pretty much echoes my own biking trajectory but minus bmx. Never did bmx. My first dirt tracker was a hand-me-down Raleigh with cow horns. Our jump was on ‘the mound’, a pile of leftover soil from a building excavation. Still have a scar on the back of my head from that bike…3 stitches…:-)

    This all sounds very familiar. My 12 year old son has spent the last year very swiftly getting very good at “The Jumping” and “The Shredding” . Ive spent the last year trying to be brave and old man up ( well late forties ). I thought i could jump well turns out I couldn’t. “Just pull up dad” easier said than done young lad. Well turned out not joining in and been old man-ey made me ‘Grumpy and not Jumpy’. So the last 3 months Ive managed some smaller gap jumps and some quite sizable drops 4-5ft this in turn turned my grump around, the grumps not totally gone but the jump clinic has reduced the syptoms no end. My jumping has progressed slowly while my grump has decressed. I think you sould do different versions of the mug , lets just say I’m more like a ,
    ” Bit Jumpy and a Bit Grumpy “…peace out .. M

    I did a jump once, didn’t mean to mind I can give that young whippersnapper Charlie Hobbs nigh on 16 years and yes I have an E Bike as you know embrace it Charlie you know you want to

    I had a tracker that my dad built me when I was a lad. I didn’t know it was called a tracker mind, it was just my bike. Gloss black with big old handlebars. It got nicked and with the insurance I got my first Raleigh Maverick “mountain bike”. 5 speed and heavy enough that it had an event horizon. Even that was better than the Peugeot POS that replaced it when a kitchen fitters Transit ran it over.
    Ain’t it strange what you remember from 35+ years ago!

    Brilliant piece, crying with laughter at your mate Kinga’s smash! It reflects my own downward trajectory of poor jumping skills on makeshift ramps with bricks on a Raleigh Burner, bruised plums and finally a broken collar bone at 45 years old at Hadligh Olympic mtb course .

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