The Singletrack Staffers pick the standout products and locations from their riding year. This article was originally published in Singletrack Magazine Issue 140.
The year has felt a little like approaching that nemesis feature on the trail: you roll up to it full of optimism, then at the last minute pull on the brakes in an attack of ‘nope’. Whether it was a ping that put paid to yet another plan, or a shipping container that didn’t arrive as expected (by now, perhaps, that should be ‘as expected, a shipping container didn’t arrive’), we had plenty of interruptions along the way. However, our northern hills had an unusually dry summer, so we managed a decent spell of short-sleeved riding on our doorstep, and there were a few chances to get further afield that we grasped and enjoyed. Like that trail feature, once we cleared it, the elation at meeting friends, riding new trails and generally enjoying bikes was all the sweeter.
Chipps – Editor At Large
It’s been a busy old year for me, what with getting engaged, moving house across town, getting married and then stepping into the Editor at Large role here at Singletrack. I can confirm that having both moving and marriage, two of the most stressful things you can do, plus an ongoing pandemic, in a single year, hasn’t been conducive to fitness and riding. However, it has all made me appreciate those times when I have been able to get out and steal an hour or two on the hills. And with the year closing, the opportunity for some more extensive wild and woolly riding is beckoning!
2021 GT Malverns Classic
My best event for 2021 has to be the GT Malverns Classic. Not because we were devoid of events, but because in any year it would stand tall among British gatherings. As it was, the hunger for socialising and bike riding (and racing) was so strong that most of the campsite was packed shortly after the gates opened on the Thursday.
There was something for everyone in this seemingly tame grassy bowl in the English countryside. There was a huge kids’ racing contingent, there was lake racing on pontoons and dirt jumping and airbag launching. There were retro bikes from the ’90s and there were the latest pedals from Hope. There was a beer tent, decent coffee, DJ sets and bands and sunshine. And there was socialising, so much socialising. That’s what made it for me. It was that gathering of like-minds in a dry, grassy field that has been core to my life as a mountain biker over the last three decades or more. Talking rubbish about bikes (or not) on top of a hill while out on your ‘test’ lap of the cross-country course, regardless of whether you were going to actually race. That’s racing for me – and the Malverns nailed it.
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