Mountain Biking is a pretty hardcore, adrenaline-fuelled pastime. Chucking yourself down hazardous mountains as fast as you can, often well beyond your skillset, can come with its own consequences. But it’s the thrill of conquering it that we’re in it for, right? Always looking for that next adventure that pushes things just a little further.
In true MBUK tradition, regular contributors Sam and Joe Flanagan recently decided to see if they could ride their bikes underground, in an intricate cave network somewhere in the north of England. Why not – seems like the next logical step, right? Well no, actually. They just wanted to see if they could. Which is sometimes reason enough and certainly the reason behind these mad things we’ve done over the years in MBUK. Read on and enjoy, but definitely don’t try these at home!
Jumping out of a plane (MBUK August 1990)
Taking bunnyhopping to a whole new level. Back in August 1990, way before ‘health & safety’ had been invented, lunatic Dave Morris thought it’d be a good idea to ride his Marin mountain bike out of the back of a plane at 7,000ft. He had a parachute, thankfully, spotted a perfect landing and tried to ride away before the wind caught his chute and pulled him over. Legend.
Wall of Death (MBUK Midsummer 1998)
Who knows why we decided this was a good idea. It looked pretty cool though, and that was often all that was needed to give a feature idea the green light! A very young and slightly green (certainly by the end of this) Dave Hemming was the designated stuntman. He had to battle against the laws of gravity and centrifugal forces in order to propel himself up the fairground attraction, but by heck he did it. With some classic gurning snaps and mild nausea his just reward. Well done, Dave!
Ring of Fire (MBUK August 1995)
When it comes to things that naturally go well together, mountain bikes, wads of straw, paraffin and a lighter aren’t the first things that come to mind. But that didn’t stop us challenging MBUK’s resident crash test dummy Justin Loretz to ride through a burning hoop of fire. Protected by a not very fire retardant MBUK skinsuit, stuffed with straw for extra protection (naturally), the loony carried off several runs. He’s now unable to grow chest hair as a result, but boy, what a bunch of red-hot images!
Rode under the ocean (MBUK July 2001)
In a bid to escape the grotty British weather, we took Team MBUK rider Helen Mortimer to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt for a bit of warmer riding. Except it ended up being just as damp, as we persuaded her to go all SpongeBob SquarePants and explore the resort’s coral reefs and sea bed. A whole load of clever weighting later and some very controlled breathing on Helen’s part, and we bagged a truly unique cover feature.
The wooden loop (MBUK July 2004)
When Kona Clump dirt jump rider and general mountain biking legend John Cowan rode into town we knew we had to make his trip memorable. So we encouraged him to build us a spectacular loop-the-loop for him and some of our closest mountain bike friends to tackle. A whole load of plywood, nails and some A-level physics later, and the loop was ready to go. John nailed it several times, almost effortlessly. Other guests didn’t fare quite so well. But we got a banging cover out of it and then listened to JC play us some Johnny Cash. Cool.
Insane lake jumping (MBUK October 2004)
Lake jumping used to be a regular occurrence in MBUK. And then all the paperwork involved made it a bit harder to do. Still, it was bloody good fun while it lasted. And this was perhaps the highlight. A 6ft-high ramp leading ominously into a local quarry. With some of the maddest and baddest names in UK mountain biking lining up to give it a go, we were off! Into the world of flips, whips, spins and spectacular bins, all ending with a mighty ‘Kersplash!’. Stuntman Rob Jarman went highest – a massive 40ft into the air. We’re hoping we can do something similar when the Malverns Classic returns in 2018. Watch this space.
Floatplane Fantasy (MBUK Autumn 2010)
A simple concept. We catch a one-way float plane to an isolated lake in British Columbia and then ride the stunning 50km singletrack trail back to base. Not much of a challenge really. Until you throw in cliff-edge trails hundreds of feet above ravines with raging rivers flowing through them. Oh, and the grizzly bears carefully watching over their young cubs. The ones that can run at 30mph uphill and are about the size of Smart cars. We made it back alive, just, to tell the tale of one of the most beautiful mountain biking adventures we ever had.
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Danny is the Editor in Chief of Mountain Biking UK Magazine. He has been at the helm for over 10 years and in that time has seen some significant changes in the bikes we ride, the kit we use and the places we go to do it. He's a firm believer that we still all ride bikes for the same reasons we ever did - to have the most amount of fun possible.