Bangers & Mash: A week in mountain biking

A new weekly pondering of the MTB world by Harry Griffiths

It felt like only yesterday that the letter dropped into my hand, delivered by carrier pigeon, as I scrolled mindlessly through Instagram. It was stamped TOP SECRET and had come from Misspent Summers Headquarters. Nervously opening it, I was astounded by what I read. A weekly roundup was needed.

This call to arms had shocked me, and as I settled in to do battle with the clickbait, vlogs and shredits, I knew it was going to be tough. Sharpen your eyes and ears comrades and hold on as I delve into the week just gone.

First up, the World Cup. ‘Hang on, he said weekly’, I hear you say. Yes, I did, but given the year we’ve had I’m going to be holding on to racing for as long as possible, so settle in. I’d imagine by now we’ve all seen the results and replays, leaving us with all sorts of questions. Would Reece Wilson have won the overall? What team will Danny Hart be on next year? Was Bruni’s magic switch NOS? Has anyone ever littered with as much style as Greg Minnaar mid-race run?

In among all this rampant speculation, we were treated to some fantastic racing. Changing weather meant all bets were off and it was incredible to see the overall settled by just 10 points. Alongside the racing came an almost overwhelming amount of coverage. RAW video after RAW video, head cams, photos, slideshows, interviews. We were spoilt for it. If it was all a bit too much,  and you’re sat there thinking ‘I just want one video to watch and an event recap’ then I would recommend you watch Ben Cathro’s Inside the Tape. Providing actual good insight into line choice and the track in question, this keeps even the keenest fans happy. Couple this with Vital’s finals slideshow and you’ve got all the coverage you need. If you’re thirsty for more at this point, then a 30 min Wyn TV should keep you satisfied.

As mentioned earlier, Minnaar would be going straight in the Trash Free Trails bad books for his use of tear-offs, as they launched their Autumn Litter Watch in the week just gone, encouraging people to get out and pick up litter in a Halloweeny way. The work these guys are doing is hugely important for the future of the sport so if you haven’t yet, make sure you give your local trails a spruce up and take responsibility for where we ride. In line with this, Cotic Bikes has stepped up and are now supporting Trash Free Trails and the Tweed Valley Trail Association with their Trail Fund. Good stuff Cotic, let’s see more bike companies step up and launch this sort of initiative.

On the note of questionable choices by bike companies, Specialized is taking a bold approach to launching the new Stumpy Evo. After launching the Status by simply making a bike and providing basically no information whatsoever, with the new Stumpy they’ve gone for the other side of the coin — providing all the information and no bikes. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for ‘em. Anyway, what it has meant is that Tommy C has produced another top-notch edit, featuring big jumps, trucks and a throwback to Earthed 2 (if you know, you know).

Sorry-not-sorry if you’re painfully waiting for one of these bikes. 

Now on a completely different note, most of have crashed our bikes. Like it or not, it’s going to happen. Most of the time it is a reasonably inconsequential affair resulting in bruises, scrapes and near-constant piss-taking, but every now and then it can be really serious (although this usually just delays the piss-taking). As the days shorten, we end up with less time to spending riding bikes and more time to waste, maybe swap the Instagram feed for learning some first aid. Freehub has a series of first aid articles to brush up on your skills or at least give you a vague idea of what to do if it all goes wrong. Don’t fancy learning never skills to keep your friends safe? Fair enough, here’s Jack Moir ripping some dusty corners. Can’t say I’m not covering all bases.

In most places, this shortening of days ties in with more wet stuff falling from the sky, and being a former Whistlerite, this video and feature struck a chord with me. It received the accolade of being labelled ‘Quality content’ in the comment section, so you’d better hold on tight for this one.

In Whistler, like many other places, the wet stuff normally changes from rain to snow around about now and, if like me you enjoy throwing yourself down a hill not only on a bike but also on planks of varying composite materials, then this video will fill you with equal parts jealously to admiration.

Cue the ‘If only I had grown up with a pro snowboarder as a parent and in ski resort’ thoughts.

Alas, the hopes of skiing are far away as we trudge deeper into another lockdown here in the UK. But looking on the bright side, there’s no better time to get stuck into some longer-form media. With podcasts popping up from every second bike racer, you can easily get lost in the abyss of Spotify, but The Drop In podcast Episode 3 with Reece Wilson is definitely worth a listen.

More of a freerider than a racer? Yeah, I don’t really know what that means either, but to me The Collective is my idea of freeride and it was my first proper mountain bike film. Furthermore, it’s on YouTube, so go and watch it and embrace the nostalgic feelings about 600mm bars and 70º head angles.

Finally, if you really want to escape from it all, then I can’t recommend anything more than Barbarian Days. It’s a book about surfing. But it’s so much more than that, it’s a true homage to the sport and it’s awesome to see someone so dedicated and in love with their chosen sport after so many years of doing it.

Until next time comrades, keep fighting the good fight.

— HG

Misspent Summers weekly round up
Title image by Ben Weiner
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