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The day someone said to me ‘You’re fairly XC, aren’t you?’ felt like the biggest insult to my riding abilities possible. By extension, I was therefore ‘not rad’. Knowing that if you were to put me in an actual cross country race I would swiftly find myself at the back of the pack, the follow up ‘I mean, you can ride a long way, you’re pretty fit’ did nothing to soften the blow to my bruised ego. Riding a long way not very fast and on lightly bumpy trails is not, as far as I know, a marketable mountain biking niche (unless you carry a tent, in which case it’s Bikepacking).

‘Radness’ is definitely something I aspire to. Deliberate and stylish ‘hucking’, drifting round corners (intentionally), and the kicking up of dirt on demand for a photographer are all on the checklist of skills to be learned. Couple these with a goggles and some fluoro shorts and I might even be able to aspire to the ‘Enduro’ tag, but that seems a very long way off.

Given that not so long ago riding a bike was for me a form of transport, not a leisure activity - tick the Utility Cyclist box - perhaps I shouldn’t be too ashamed of my wheels-on-the-ground riding style. And really, I know I shouldn’t worry which niche I fit into, because really, that’s all marketing, and it’s actually all just riding bikes, right?

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About Singletrack

UK Adventure – Long Mynd: Barney goes in search of long singletrack descents too good to miss. International Adventure – Ecuador: Cass Gilbert goes bikepacking – stunning photography and adventure results. International Adventure – Los Angeles: Chipps seeks out that which is not concrete in the City of Angels. Crash Gallery – A fond look at some crash photos inspired by this issue’s cover. Classic Ride – Exmoor: Barney finds that steep hills and merciless gorse can hide a treasure trove of West Country singletrack. Grouptest: Trail SPD shoes are tested by the team. But do they pass the ‘pub’ test? Bike Test – The Second Coming: We test three second iterations of bikes from Orange, Santa Cruz and Singular. Is it a case of improvement through evolution, or a film sequel style flop? Grinder: A bucketful of shiny components, lovingly mixed with some springtime grit and exuberant riding before judgement. UK Adventure – Orienteering: Chipps tests out his map reading skills in the Dark Peak. Magic in the Margins of the Day: A change in circumstances leads Doug McDonald to discover the joy of dusk and and dawn riding.

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