Pic: retrobike.co.uk

When I were a lad … I imagined that I climbed like Tim Gould and descended in the mad manner of John Tomac.

I’ve recently built up a fully rigid MTB that’s like a super-powered version of the bike I used to do all that dreaming on, the kind of steed I dreamt about riding back in the late eighties. It’s not been off road much but its few jaunts have been around my old haunts.

My climbing skills certainly haven’t deserted me. I’ve garnered a few Strava KOMs, can take all those

Pic: en.academic.ru

old, and a few new, ascents in my stride. Even the technical, steep, rocky and rooty stuff isn’t a problem.

It’s as if my ascending prowess, honed as a teen almost three decades ago, has become instinct, always there, to be drawn upon when needed.

Me on the trail

As for going downhill? Sheesh.

I was never the greatest descender (my shortcomings blamed on being too skinny/lightweight) but I wasn’t bad. Nowadays I descend a lot less like John Tomac and much more like a grand piano being rolled down a flight of stairs. And noisier too.

Any skill I might have had is definitely not there to be drawn upon. It is distant, but a memory, existing in a metaphysical place alongside U-brakes and white Onza Porcupine tyres. It doesn’t come back to me when the trail tilts down.

The upside to this downside? The one thing I haven’t lost is my love of riding off road, which makes practising that much easier. And boy do I need to practice.