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Hannah catches up with the off.ial joker of the British mountain bike scene and finds a darker side that nearly did for him.

“I love waking up in the mornings.” It’s taken stunt rider Jez Avery a long while to be able to say this, because behind the showman front he’s been dogged – “tortured” he says – by mental ill health. If you’re of a certain age, there’s a good chance you had a poster of Jez on your wall. Somersaulting into a harbour, leaping over a row of cars, or otherwise improbably balancing on a mountain bike, he was a wellknown face in magazines and on the mountain bike events circuit throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Indeed, at last year’s Malverns revival, he was one of those fixtures that needed to be there to make it feel right. But he nearly didn’t make the Malverns in summer 2018 at all – in winter 2017 he made plans to end his life.

Sitting in a farmhouse in the Peak District, we’re 12 months on from when Jez thinks he started to see a life ahead of him once more. It’s a life he says is dependent on a cocktail of drugs, but it’s one that he wants, and he hopes that by telling his story, others might also ‘get their lives back’.


That charming man.

To the outside observer, his life appears a charmed one. He started out as a racer, forming ‘Team Hot Pies’ with friends Graeme Matthews and Paul Wilson before moving on to ride for Proflex, MBUK and Caratti Sport. He says he hated the cross-country riding but found fun on the dual slalom course, becoming a three-time National Champion. While waiting for podium presentations he’d mess around on his bike, performing tricks and challenges. How high could he bunny hop? Could he get up on top of that rock? What about that one? Could he do a wheelie without his front wheel in?

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About Singletrack

Editorial Chipps is brushing up on his knowledge of rules and regulations. Classic Ride: Hay on Wye Barney Marsh finds out why you might like to look further than the book shops in this lumpy little corner of the UK. Bike Park Wales Samantha Saskia Dugon goes behind the scenes to reveal the people that make our pay to play fun happen. Munros Challenge Sanny thinks we should all set ourselves a challenge if we want to be truly alive. Capital to Coast Max Darkins rides from the centre of London to the south coast, in search of beer and chips. Why not? Column: Jason Miles Jason bemoans the excessive enforcement of spurious rules and regulations. Has he been talking to Chipps? Dumplings Chipps heads to Italy for a race where he has to hunt dumplings. Does he need a net, or a spear? Chipps e-MTB Chipps spends a wet weekend in Wales on an e-bike. Will life be any more fun with a battery, or is it still a wet weekend in Wales? Bike Test Dean Hersey gets stuck into three distinctive 29ers that span the width of the new (ahem, nu) school of full suspension 29er trail bikes. Pete’s Pros Pete Scullion continues to ride with (or chase after) the professional riders of today. This issue, he’s talking to Steve Peat. Jez Avery We catch up with legend of the 1990s UK MTB scene ‘Jumping Jez Avery’, and discover that behind the stunt shows and bunny hops, there’s a whole other life. Arran Sanny hops on a boat to Arran to check out the trails that are often overlooked by those going for the big obvious pointy hulk of Goat Fell. Last Word Mark swaps his car for a bike.