Trawling through old tat...

At the recent Demo Day finale at Newnham Park in Plymouth, I bumped in to a local rider who was ripping round on a great Orange Clockwork - in that loud original orange colourway. He'd had his forks resprayed to match, and we generally got chatting about hardtails and the old days - which made me start sifting through random boxes of photos when I got home...

At the recent Demo Day finale at Newnham Park in Plymouth, I bumped in to a local rider who was ripping round on a great Orange Clockwork - in that loud original orange colourway. He'd had his forks resprayed to match, and we generally got chatting about hardtails and the old days - which made me start sifting through random boxes of photos when I got home...

Well, for starters, this is the awesome looking Orange - a truly lovely bike, although somewhat out-dated by modern hardtails in terms of geometry, toptube height in relation to the size of the frame - and of course the ride. But stop and glance, and the bike looks so old it's practially new. It was funny seeing riders checking it out as if it was a top secret 2009 bike!

In all it's glory: run's like clockwork
In all it's glory: run's like clockwork

When I got home, I started sifting through old photos - and although I haven't found many, I thought you may want to see some of them - they sure gave me a dose of nostalgia.

This green lump is my Prestige Saracen Kili Pro Elite - I'm guessing from about '93, although it's hard to remember! It was originally 'Champagne' in colour, and came specced with Rockshox Quadra forks, and a mix of Shimano Deore DX and Ritchey Logic componetry. This was the bike that truely changed my riding as I started venturing in to DH racing and pratting around in the woods- as well as riding and racing XC. I've always used SPD pedals for XC, but as soon as the jumping got more popular, out came the flat pedals. At the time I was pretty fit, so ditched the inner chainring- and ran a DCD chain device to boot.

Even back then I always loved the clear Crud Catchers - it's amazing how a simple invention came actually become a cool accessory - as well as being functional, of course. Note that I'm running Answer Alumite DH bars - one of the first pairs of riser bars- and Gripshift a la John Tomac. I even had the little yellow stickers on the barrels like the Pro riders used to sport. I do have some decent pics somewhere, which I'll dig out when I find them...

My freeriding started here...: nice turn-bar eh?
My freeriding started here...: nice turn-bar eh?

After the Saracen I went for a Giant ATX 970- my first full suspension bike, which lasted exactly 2 weeks before sticking a crack all the way round the down tube- you should have seen the rage on my Dad's face! Not wanting to do the same again, we managed to pay Giant a bit of money and upgrade the frame to the ATX 990- which the Animal/Giant team used to use then. It was an amazing bike, but was just too weak back then- I invested in some of the Goldtec long travel plates, which promptly blew my shock. Following that I belled the head tube with heavy landings to flat- the headset just fell out when I removed the forks! A couple more 990's later Giant gave me an ATX 1000- which was the aluminium version of the Carbon frame that the team boys used. Unfortunatly, that also died a death- but to be fair, it was my fault. Back then, jumping on mountain bikes didn't always involve landing ramps and transitions- so harsh landings destroyed everything. I remember clearly, constantly riding around with bent pedals and cranks, and how I never used to buy expensive rims, cranks or pedals as they didn't ever last very long! In hindsight I'll always spend more now for something that will last, as time off the bike is infuriating for me!

Kona were one of the first brands that understood the need for hard riding products- so when the Stinky Five first came in to light, I snapped up an early Demo frame from local store Mountain High in Rickmansworth, where I used to spend a lot of time flying out the massive bombhole there. Which is probably lame by todays standards! I also got in to Trails around this time and got hold of a Cannondale from Recycle in London, which I used practically every night on the streets of Harrow- we had some funs days back then.

Throughout the entire time I've been in to mountain biking, I've read MBUK- and I eventually made the top of the list for Work Experience and enjoyed a couple of weeks of playing with bike loot every day! At the end of my spell, Paul Smith (Reviews Ed at the time) realised I loved riding and as well as being able to ride MTB's in all styles and forms, could string a sentance together. So he gave me a bunch of products to test- including the Stratos FR4 fork- a 4in travel twin crown number designed for Dual and jumping.

Don't diss the saddle- it was free!: this hurt. a lot
Don't diss the saddle- it was free!: this hurt. a lot

Except it didn't last very long. In fact it snapped in half when bombing off a stair drop on the way to work one morning, dumping me on my face. With a broken nose, cheek and eye socket, and go faster stripes all over my face, I unsuprisingly lost my bottle for a while. In time, Paul contacted me and mentioned there was a job going to replace Jamie Hibbard- which I applied for and got. Since then I've been destroying more bikes than ever- and I'll continue to do so until I can no longer swing a leg over a bike. I'll dig out more pics- somewhere I actually have some good ones...

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