Well, what a year we've all had. As the bike industry continues to navigate obstacles bought on by the global health crisis and BREXIT, all of us at off.road.cc have worked hard to adapt and overcome challenges.
I joined the team back in May as the editor's torch was passed down to me from Rachael. Since then, my time has been spent behind the scenes on the day-to-day running of the site, managing content, testing kit and working with the team to develop ideas that will help grow the title and utilise the incredible talent we have on staff. Without giving anything away, I'm really excited about the projects we have lined up for 2022 as we embark on content that's new and exciting for us.
In addition to reviewing some great bits of kit, I've chosen a few articles which I've found thought-provoking and/or entertaining.
Ask the audience
If there's one thing I've learned in all my years of working in mountain bike editorial, it's that we all have our own stories to tell. I love working with contributors to help them share their experiences in a way that's entertaining, informative, and inspirational for the reader.
More recently, I've taken to off.road.cc's social media channels, calling for you to share tidbits of advice and experience that may be a huge benefit to others. Here's the first collective we published about terrible mountain bike advice, and if you're wondering, that is yours truly going OTB in the photo.
Rapha's trail collection
Historically, when a road-focused clothing brand decides to dabble in the world of mud and trail, it's rarely a huge success *cough ASSOS cough*. The failure to launch typically stems from poor design and questionable features, which may suit road cyclists but has no place on the trails.
So when Rapha's press release came around to announce their foray into trail wear, I suspect the media-verse, including myself, rolled their eyes with a firm preconceived notion - oh, how we were wrong.
It's been a while since I've been pleasantly surprised, and I'll gladly hold my hands up when I'm wrong about something. This was one of those times. The Rapha trail shorts are now a firm go-to for riding, weather permitting, and I'd go so far as to say they're the best shorts to come out of 2021.
The unwritten rules of trail etiquette
Well, they're not unwritten anymore, as Liam did a fantastic job of pulling together a heap of dos and don'ts for riding trails. This is one of those guides that oozes common sense, but there are always those few riders who are totally oblivious or think they're above all that.
Trail etiquette doesn't exist because some moany 'Karens' want to dampen our fun; it's there to ensure everyone has a good time and a safe time on the bike. It's about being friendly to your fellow biking comrades, maintaining a warm welcome to newcomers and keeping an eye out for vulnerable trail users. We're a community, after all, so watch out for one another.
What's the deal with upside-down bikes?
upsidedown bikes on trail upside down bikes mtb hannah collingridge.jpg, by Jessica Strange
You may have seen this feature do the rounds on social media back in the summer, and it's for a great reason.
Hannah Collingridge wrote to all the major mountain bike media houses after being involved in an incident at Leeds Urban Bike Park. When riding with a group of mates, one member suffered a nasty crash on the landing of a jump. Unable to move or be moved safely to the side, Hannah and her friends walked back up the trail and placed their bikes upside down to act as a warning for other trail users. Hannah's quick thinking helped protect the casualty until the emergency services arrived while ensuring no other trail users were injured in the process. This public service announcement is something I feel we should all pay attention to and consider should we find ourselves in a similar situation.
Why is XC so uncool?
evie richards team gb great britain mountain bike tokyo 2020 olympics bike jump.JPG, by mattpage
With an Olympic gold medallist and a UCI world cup winner this year, it's surprising that cross-country is not as celebrated in the UK as it is overseas. Jolanda Neff, Mattieu Van Der Poel and Nino Schurter are household names in their respective countries, yet not many Brits will know who Evie Richards or Tom Pidcock are.
Matt's insightful look at the state of XC in the UK looks at the sport, the coverage, or lack thereof, and how "cool" XC is compared to its sibling disciplines.
From myself and the rest of the off.road.cc team, we're wishing you your best year yet in 2022. As always, my inbox is always open to content suggestions, contributions and feedback, so drop me a message, even if it's to just say hello: email@example.com