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OPINION

Goodbye old friend

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Saying farewell to a much-loved companion is never easy - even when it's a mountain bike.

As my eBay customer carefully carried his new Giant Trance 2 over the hall carpet - scrupulously avoiding contact with walls, radiator and front door in a way I very rarely manage - I felt a wave of sadness sweep over me. I would probably never see the Giant again.

It’s done little more than take up space in my shed for the past three years; its sale will bring closer the happy day when I buy my next bike; I haven’t wanted to cycle off road for years, and yet despite all this, when I saw it being pushed up the street away from my house, all I could think about were blissful traffic-free rides on the South Downs.

I remembered the first time I cleared Butser Hill near Winchester, lungs aflame, then I recalled the first time I descended it, clinging on desperately with a massive gleeful grin plastered across my face.

I remembered the stolen work day rides – charging out of Brighton onto the Downs as quickly as possible, turning west onto the well-ridden chalk paths, past the ruined building near Devil’s Dyke, through the gates, past the sheep, up the winding hill towards the youth hostel, along the farm track and then over the cattle grid onto the road, cutting left past the farm onto the treacherous grassy path over the hill and then down towards the back end of Port Slade, then on to the seafront – mud flying from my tyres – before the eastward sprint home, hopefully arriving within an hour of my departure.

I remembered the pride I felt when I first cleared the tricky ascent near Saddlecombe Farm and the pain I felt when I broke my arm after falling off when my front wheel got stuck in a rut near Waterhall golf course. I remembered the slogs up to Firle Beacon, and Truleigh Hill, and Bramber, and Kingston, and Washington. I remembered the crackle of my tyre cutting through frosty grass on cold February mornings, and the whirring buzz of dew-sodden disc brakes slowing my descents towards the back of Stanmer Park from Ditchling Beacon.

Road riding has taken over these days but the Giant sale money will go towards something versatile enough to cope with road or track. Something CX-oriented. Something like the Kinesis Tripster ATR, perhaps, test-ridden last week through a joyously muddy and leafy Stanmer Park and the cause of much glee and merriment.

So the future’s undoubtedly bright. But before I rush off to embrace it, allow me a moment to say goodbye to a faithful old friend.

Lifelong lover of most things cycling-related, from Moulton Mini adventures in the 70s to London bike messengering in the 80s, commuting in the 90s, mountain biking in the noughties and road cycling throughout. Editor of Simpson Magazine (www.simpsonmagazine.cc). 

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