My Name is Jack

Our youngest contributor, Jack Greenaway, is back with more tales of ‘the olds’ and getting dirt and blood on his mum’s carpet.

I’m a 14-year-old boy living in Nelson, going riding almost every day, doing roosts, jumps, skids and all the dumb stuff that generally ends up with more scars on my shins. Mum gets upset when I get home, bleeding on the carpet. Dad just posts another photo of me on Instagram with the caption ‘Healthy outdoor living.’

nz mtbr jack-2.jpg

Codgers Mountain Bike Park is about 1500m down the road from home. If I didn’t have such an average bike – an XC Merida 120 – I’d be worried that my quality of life might have already peaked.

The best rides I do are with my dad (one of the olds) or with friends (the not-so-olds). Dad smokes me on the uphill but takes a chill ride down, which is fine with me. He has what he calls a ‘two-wheel policy’, which is that all wheels need to be in contact with the ground at all times. It could be a bit boring, but he reckons he heals a bit more slowly than me.

nz mtbr jack-5.jpg

He and his mates have a regular Wednesday evening ride. Their policy is they have to do a minimum of 350 metres climbing before they can go to the pub. I’ve been riding with them a couple of times, but even though I do the climb, I don’t get to go to the pub.  A few weeks ago one of them broke his collar bone. I’m not sure how he did it because they all go about 1 km/hr, except Robbie who’s pretty fast. Phil, who had the accident, says he’s Dutch and doesn’t like spending money, but I think after his crash he should think about a new bike. Perhaps an E-bike. Although maybe he was just blinded by my dad’s fluoro.

When I convince my friends to join me, which is not hard, we usually aim for the top of Firball (grade three) and do a grade five or four on the way down. It all depends on how hyped we are, and what day it is. After school, we’re usually keen on some hard riding and race home to get our bikes and a peanut butter sandwich. Josh, although he’s the fastest on the downhill by far, is always the slowest to turn up. But then, he is Scottish. In the weekends, we’re still pretty keen, but we take it easy on Sundays, stopping by the local takeaways for chips and apparently ruining our appetites. In summer, we drop into the Maitai Valley via Turners (grade four) and wash off the dust in the river.

nz mtbr jack-6.jpg

When Gravity, the local jump park up the Maitai valley, is closed and it’s too hot to go up Codgers, we dig holes in my olds’ lawn and make jumps. We try to make big gaps but the olds don’t let us use a lot of dirt. My mum’s worried someone’s going to have a crash. When I first started riding I made a 50cm gap-jump, which I was really happy with. It’s now a good metre and a half, and sits beside a big wooden Scottish kicker (Josh’s lawn was too small for it).

I like doing a grade four track called Hotbox. In the dry it rips up lots of dust and has a cool flow, but in the wet it’s another story. On those wet weekends, when the sun has disappeared behind the grey clouds, sometimes I’d rather just stay in bed and listen to pointless banter on The Edge, but with the guys I ride with you can’t be that much of a wimp.

nz mtbr jack-7.jpg

Josh texted and told me we were going to do Hotbox. In my mind, I tried to think of all the possible excuses I could use. When they came around to my house I tried to sound enthusiastic so they thought I really wanted to go. But I pointed out the thin tread on my front wheel, and the worn bush on my rear suspension, and the black rings on my front suspension from the leaking seals. In that weather, it would be a perilous ride I said. “You’ll be alright” they said, and started going. I knew at this point there was no getting out, even though I could see another bloodied Instagram post by my dad on the way.

It started off well, with the steep descends being a bit slippery, but the last part was soaked and with a little slide I landed on my thumb. It’s still sore. But the point to this story is my mum. When I knocked on the door she screamed and told me to go and wash myself in the river. I was a bit bummed about that because my kit was looking mighty fine and I would have to wait a while until it was dirty again. She wants to wash everything all the time, and the Fox and Santa Cruz logos are starting to fade.

nz mtbr jack-8.jpg

We all love our parents but sometimes they can be a little unknowing, unsympathetic or clueless about mountain biking. First, whenever I go out to races, my mum gets worried and tells me to go slow, and not do jumps so I don’t hurt myself. This is what I mean by clueless. But there are good sides of parents. They help you when you have blood dripping everywhere and then, oh wow, wouldn’t I look good in that lovely looking Santa Cruz shirt on sale. Actually, that’s what aunts are for, now that I’ve let her know that Ground Effect gear is what dads wear.

They get really cranky when you come home at 6:30 when everyone has started eating dinner and you have mud all over you and a huge grin on your face. Also not good when you were on cooking duties. This has happened one too many times and was bad enough in summer. Now in winter they make me wear shiny colourful stuff, but they don’t know that it only gets put on when I get home. My dad’s cool enough to wear fluoro. Maybe one day I’ll be like him.

The Nelson Mountain Bike Club has just put in a new track called Crazy Horse. It’s a grade three but is still lots of fun. Every day since it has been open it has been packed with people, which is a bummer if you crash – someone is always watching and half of them are filming. On the first day, I rode it nine times.

nz mtbr jack-1.jpg

With all these new trails going in I might need a new bike. I’ve got my eye on the perfect one – the Giant Reign SX 2017 – but by the time I get enough cash, they’ll all be sold (and I’ll be 20). Also, for my mum I need to top up her first aid kit and for dad I must get some grass-seed for the lawn. I’ll need more than one holiday job for all this. I’ll have to start looking for a sponsor.

Words & Images: Jack Greenway & Digby Shaw

Originally printed in Issue 87 of the NZ Mountain Biker