Bikes are good. In fact, bikes are well good. Just thinking about them gets me stoked. There is, however, more to life than just bikes. For most people, their passion/hobby/sport is their escape from real life – that blissful release that detaches them from the stresses of normal life. For me, at the moment, normal life IS bikes. I’m living the dream! It’s a disgustingly cheesy phrase though so I try not to use it. The next part is also classic cliché vomit inducing stuff but it is also true…

I remember being given a clock at school which had a folding cover. Inside the cover we were told to draw a picture of how we wanted to see ourselves in the future. I think the intention was to provoke thoughts and aspirations towards our intended careers or line of work. Some people followed suit and drew something boring like, for example, a stethoscope because they wanted to be a doctor. I remember someone drew a violin and I remember Herbie drew a big cock. I think his goal was to become a pornstar but, then again, maybe he just had a little willy. I drew a bike. I thought that if I could ride my bike every day then that would keep me happy. I remember reading an article on Mick Hannah about how he lived the simple life in the Australian bush, playing on his pump track, sleeping in a shack and training for world cup downhill on his home made trails. That looked like the business to me. Kids have the best ideas and I guess I’m still a big kid at heart. The older you get though you do start to feel the pressure. I don’t think there are many people who would give me sympathy but everyone has ups and downs. Sir Chirs Hoy cries when he’s happy. Imagine when he’s sad! We’re all human at the end of the day.

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Glen Loy – Solo mission in the woods. Good for the mind and soul

This winter has been quite tough for me to be honest. My main focus has been my van. It has undergone some long and expensive operations at the garage. I have been concerned for its health for a while but hopefully life expectancy has been prolonged for a few more years. I’ve also performed some daring procedures inside and out to increase its functionality with the addition of a sink, tap, heater, more storage, extra lighting and an awning.

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Van 2016 – The Pikeybus complete with awning and new sticker job

It was the first proper winter I’ve spent at home for a long time and it was quite a lonely experience. We use to have a big fat cat who would greet me when I parked on the drive. I’d pat him on the head and then we’d roll around on the ground together. As well as Smokey we had a goat called Pixie. She would do laps of the pump track with me. It’s hard to believe but I also use to have a girl friend. It was great having someone to share my adventures and to cuddle up with at the end of the day but she broke up with me when I turned pro. One of the reasons she gave was that she wanted to set me free. Free to go and enjoy the world of bikes. The ironic thing is that I like having a girlfriend too. I tried to tell her this but I did also tell her that I liked the idea of being James Bond – getting all the ladies and saving the world. In reality that would be a stressful way of life: Constantly killing bad guys; always wearing a suit; sometimes getting tortured, frequently crashing cars, drinking too many Martinis, having explosive watches strapped to your wrist and knowing that the chief bad guy is going to take ages to die. It’s best just to pretend. Or keep your mouth shut. We vaguely stay in touch and the last I heard is that she’s applying for a job in Whistler. Who doesn’t want to live in Whistler!? I’ll never understand girls. I remember speaking to a friend at school and he was having relationship issues. My advice to him was to go and ride his bike more. I’m not sure how much that helped. The Scottish winter certainly doesn’t help me. Getting out in the muck is fun but its hard work. Many days have been spent hiding on the turbo or in the garage picking up heavy things. The stats suggest my fitness is good – I just need to put it into practice now.

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Chocolate mud – Winter can be a messy business.
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Pikey Gym – The cleaner training alternative
James Shirley Aiming High Action Shot
SES Dunkeld – Copyright Ian Linton. Last outing for the Radon Slide 160

I can’t believe the season has started already. It’s only the beginning of March! I had the first Scottish Enduro Series race on the weekend. It was really fun and I can already feel a new surge of enthusiasm bursting through my veins. I’m so excited now. Summer is coming. I’m currently sitting in Gatwick airport waiting to board a plane to Porto for our team camp where a brand new bike is waiting for me – the Radon Swoop 170. I had a lot of input into this bike so I can only blame myself if I don’t like it. It has really aggressive geometry and 170mm of travel so I’m pretty confident. The base model for a complete build starts at less than £1700 which is going to keep the punters happy too. Bring it on!

Check out the other 6 blog posts from James’ series:

Keep up to date with James’ racing by following his Instagram Page.

Words: James Shirley Photos: James Shirley / Ian Linton (5)

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