Kickin’ it root down
Guest blog: Neil Cain takes inspiration from the Beastie Boys and goes back to hardtails
I don’t own a full sus bike anymore. It’s now been a while since I have. After dabbling with them in all their forms for over 10 years, just over a year ago I took a note out of the The Beastie Boys’ book (RIP MCA), and decided to kick it root down. I went back to just riding a hardtail.
Don’t get me wrong – I love suspension bikes. I still look longingly at 6in travel beasts to fix that particular craving, for the few times a year I will find myself around hills higher than 500m. So, if I still want a filthy double-ender, why am I kicking it root down?
The reason is this: my hardtail is a shedload of fun. An ab-so-bloody-lute bucketload of the stuff. It’s super adaptable. It’s light. While riding I get the same joy I did on my 1989 Rockhopper, back in 1989. For most terrain I regularly ride, it’s utterly spot-on. Thetters? I kick it root down. Peaks? I put my root down. Natural stuff in Wales? I kick it root down. A spot of playing at Aston Hill? I put my root down. XC in the Alps? I break it all down, I kick it root down.
How about more than a few days ‘proper’ riding in big mountains with ‘proper’ mountain descents? I kick it… ah. Yes. That’s the Achille’s heel.
It does beat you up. 6in of skill compensation makes a hell of a difference after a day of crashing through rock gardens and scraping your backside on the back tyre. But – and there is a but – I still reckon for 80 per cent of my riding, my hardtail is the bomb.
Not only that, but it’s teaching me to ride properly again. Sure, you learn an awful lot riding down exotic mountains everyday, and 6in of trail-taming get-out-of-jail-free travel can be like a needle loaded with pure confidence.
But when you don’t have alpine vistas on your doorstep you need to keep things in check. You need to stay challenged. You need to dig to the very bottom of why you ride.
So, why do you ride? For me, at the end of the day, it’s all about the basics. It’s a hardtail. It’s fun. It’s Peaks rocks and Thetford singletrack. It’s flowy lines and steep drops. It’s chasing mates on their big bikes. It’s giggling like a schoolgirl. It’s kicking it, root down.
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