Justin has left the building, just like Elvis, and by the time you read this he’ll be with his rightful owner Mr Rob Stokes. The love affair between Justin and I was never in a vacuum, we we’re free, and he showed me some great times, the gleaming shaft of the air shock, the sound of the forks compressing when riding hard and the firm but forgiving saddle that slid between my legs.
Just being able to ride a bike anywhere at anytime is something I’d forgotten but Justin rekindled that for me. I always felt anxious when riding DH on my own, rather than relaxing into the riding I felt like I was on edge, and enjoyment came only later when riding with friends. Maybe Justin was my friend, someone to hold my hand when things get out of the ordinary and guide me out of the rough into the serene embrace of stability and competence.
For a further insight, here are some of favourite intimate moments with Justin:
Riding him for the first time in the Sheffield Dual Series. Where Rob handed him over to me, then flying over to New Zealand.
Competing in the Wellington Super D race – 13th in Masters after suffering for a week with a bad head cold and leaving the track down a bank after clipping the wrong side of a root. Pedalling so hard into the finish I thought my head was going to explode.
The primo Alpine singletrack of the Craigieburn Forest Park. Alpine Beech forest is something of a New Zealand trademark, the smell and the feel of the loamy wet soil under tyre, where any corner makes you feel like a hero.
Riding the Queen Charlotte Track in a storm with my partner Jen, 71km of singletrack through the Marlborough Sounds. Any ride that starts with a boat journey is a guaranteed epic.
Being in Nelson with my mate Lilly (the girl shreds hard) up in the Coppermines and then riding on the following day in the Hira forest on life-affirming trails.
Not staying on the bike on a long gravelly left-hander and getting cellulitis in my knee and having a dose of Entonox gas on New Years Eve. Not as dramatic as Sam Hill’s World Champs crash, but definitely on a par.
The giant podocarps of Whirinaki Forest Park, a forest described by David Bellamy as ‘one of the great forests of the world’. Nuff said.
Getting up at 4.30am on Christmas Day and ascending Ben Lomond above Queenstown and then riding on pristine soil and tracks back down into the town in time for a feed and a flat white well before lunch.
Discovering the joys of commuting back home from work….
Justin has been a great addition to my life, but now he has gone I realise I don’t miss him – he’ll live on and travel to the world’s best riding, he enhanced my life and was never a hindrance, but I had to make room in my heart for another addition to my life…..but more on that soon…..