Uppers and Downers
Uppers and Downers

There's a whole array of uppers and downers out there, always has been, but we're not talking about the prescribed reds and blues of Quadrophenia or the chemicals and enthuseres of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.


Words and photo by Richard Cunynghame

The characteristic ups and downs of these hallucinogens and amphetamines have been brought to the world of mountain biking. I'm not talking about that wiff you get halfway around some trail centres, providing for some the authentic Vietnam experience when the weather is matching that precipitational onslaught. But I'm certainly riding at all time highs and lows; it just seems that the lows are more fun now.

Over time my riding has become more expansive, I now have no issue with a long climb if it delivers a dramatic descent, I've also become quite partial to a flowing undulating track. As I quickly realised this kind of riding can hurt, it's either your legs or your nuts that take the pain, seat height is paramount. In line with the evolvement of bikes, the obvious answer was invented. As my friends all acquired these seat posts that shot up and glided down on request, I was left behind, the sad loner in the woods twiddling little bolts to adjust my seat height. I'd covet my friends’ magic posts, whilst denying they were as great as they declared.

Then it arrived, the gleaming little shotgun. No more would I be wearing the finish off seat posts, getting through seat clamps from over–tightening them trying to get the post to not slip after shovelling a ton of slop down the seat tube with it. The time had come of garters up for formal and knickers down for the fun times. I'd joined the modern era, a world of periscopes under the saddle and buttons on the handlebar.

I'm so glad to see the end of the days when I'd be fumbling around with seat post heights, dismounting to adjust a saddle in a way that’s as ungainly as a horse rider hurriedly tightening the girth of their saddle and accidentally grabbing the wrong strap. It edifies my actual riding too, it’s become cleaner and less clumsy, none of this jumping with straight legs to save the ol’ chap or buckling on an uphill that was too long to conquer stood up. It’s one of them things that’s so obvious once experienced it seems like the days before were all spent in the shade until this strange kinda voodoo appeared. I love seeing people jump when they press that handlebar lever and the seat shoots up unexpectedly. After years of aiming towards simplistic handlebars, my accoutrements are fast expanding. Remembering all the various levers is getting to the point where I need a map. I was quite used to just the brakes and gears, now I'm a Formula 1 driver with all the bells and whistles on the steering wheel. If my bike gets any more advanced it will be engine mapping the swing of my dick between my legs as I ride.

I’m not a big fan of the mechanics of riding but really this thing is a revelation. I always say in life, you should try everything once, but this you must try again and again. Trails that were once too tame to really enjoy with the seat down and ones that were too steep to tackle without the adjustment kerfuffle are all now in my realm. The only problem is that I don't have the rest stops anymore, it's constant. Unlike all the narcotic elixirs, this alchemical solution is wholeheartedly safe and beneficial to health. It will doubtless prevent a few of those slow motion over the bars saddle–bucks that always end so badly.

Technology normally has the habit of helping us sit down more, normally it’s of the cyber variety. For instance, I got an iPad recently, I used to read a newspaper on the toilet, now I sit there on the throne flicking my way through endless web articles and tend to find a film that I’ll start to watch and before I know it, I’ve been on there a half hour. My legs so numb that standing up seems impossible. It’s good then that these here seat posts are a technological advancement that help us stand up. Drop that silly seat out the way and let’s all get on are feet for the fun stuff. If nothing else, they at least make it easier to get on and off the bike.