Our 30th anniversary cover image was inspired by UK mountain biking icon Jason McRoy. As someone who was such a big part of the scene in the early days and a huge inspiration to so many riders, it felt fitting that we should take time to remember his influence and impact on the sport.
You can read a bit more about the JMC story in our anniversary issue but, briefly, Jason was the first UK downhill rider to land a major sponsorship deal (with Specialized) after success on the US race circuit, and helped pave the way for more UK riders to follow suit. He had a bright future ahead of him but tragically lost his life in a motorbike crash back in 1995, aged just 23.
JMC was a prominent figure in MBUK back in the early years, as well as starring in arguably the best mountain bike film ever, Dirt. He oozed style, and the shot we chose to replicate showed him throwing in a seemingly effortless X-up right in the middle of an XC race!
We set top UK downhill rider Brendan Fairclough and long-standing MBUK photographer Steve Behr the task of getting as close to that original shot as possible. As Brendan freely admits, it wasn’t easy. He spent a long time in the blistering heat at the S4P B1KEPARK in Surrey, sessioning a line of jumps and trying to get just the right angle for snapper Steve.
The shoot threw up a few challenges along the way. Brendan discovered that increases in handlebar width over the years meant it wasn’t as easy as he’d thought it would be to twist the bar right round like JMC. Plus it’s harder to try to copy another rider’s exact shape than to just throw an original one of your own, right?
But we reckon Brendan got pretty damn close, delivering a shot that allowed us to replicate the design style of the 1990s cover – one that we still love even today – and give it a modern twist. Big thanks to Brendan for helping us bring one of our favourite old-school covers back to life!