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Back in the dim mists of time (OK, mid-1980s) I started to write for Bicycle Times magazine. I was still at uni but was pretty much editing it within a month or two. When I left for Bicycle Action, then owned by Muddy Fox, I was given a two-page spread: Off Road Reid.
Drew Lawson, publisher of Bicycle Action and co-founder of Muddy Fox, asked me whether the market was ready for a full-on mountain bike magazine. I said ‘no’.
Mountain Biking UK launched soon thereafter, and it’s still thriving today, showing you how much I can be counted on for predictions. I started writing for MBUK from issue two. Living in the North East of England, I knew road- and touring-bike builder Dave Yates of M Steel Cycles. Teaming up, he built me some bikes, and I got commissions to feature the bikes - and the building of them - in MBUK
In the mid-1980s Dave built me a number of custom bikes, including the pig-heavy Pink Thing, which was pink. It was heavy because it had welded steel racks front and rear. I used that bike for a month long tour of Morocco during my uni vacation.
Tiring of heavy, touring MTBs, I suggested we build - and write-about - a fast, skinny-tyre MTB made from Reynolds 753, road bike tubing. And the pix above and below show the result. The M Steel’s paint crew even hand-painted our faces on to the bike (it’s Dave with the beard and the widow’s peak; I’m wearing original Oakley Factory Pilots and have yet to develop my own widow’s peak).
Years before Ridgeback popularised the fast hybrid MTB, I was riding one in Newcastle. It’s now gently rusting away in my dad’s garage. It’s no longer safe to ride: the seat post is fused into the seat tube. One day I’ll clean the thing and hang it up as a reminder of some great days.
Like-shit-off-a-shovel was one of Dave’s favourite sayings. That and Dog’s Bollox, I suppose.