How do you write about someone who’s been part of the British mountain bike world virtually since there have been mountain bikes?
To say that Steve Worland was a central part of British mountain biking from the beginning would be – well, it would be very true. Steve Worland had been a mountain bike journalist since the beginning of the 1990s and his bike tests and features have been read by hundreds of thousands of riders over the years.The hundreds of mourners who turned up for Steve’s standing-room-only memorial in Bristol last month represented a huge cross-section of the mountain bike community from the last 30 years. There were local Bristol racers, trail builders, fellow journalists, national champions and bike designers. All of them had had their lives touched by Steve at some point.
As Guy Kesteven brilliantly summed him up: “If mountain biking had a John Peel, it was Steve.” Steve Worland was the quietly spoken, modest guru who had been dispensing wisdom to an entire generation of mountain bikers. He was equally at home talking to fellow riders on the trail or at the café as he was talking to revered characters like Gary Fisher or Keith Bontrager. His writing – the same carefully measured, sparse, but well-thought-out wisdom as his speech – guided the buying decisions of countless mountain bikers over the years. It also helped bike manufacturers to improve, or fix, less successful designs. Steve was happy to tell it like it was, regardless of the consequences and it shows his standing in the industry that his criticisms were rarely met with hostility or incredulity – they tended to be met by a feverish return to drawing boards.
On the bike, Steve was inspirational. For someone who rarely left the ground, it seemed that he barely touched it and many a cocky rider was quietly brought back to earth when trying to follow Steve’s wheel on his home trails in Bristol. Even in his late 50s Steve rode (at speed) almost daily around the trails of Ashton Court and beyond, regardless of weather. Despite being a mountain biker for as long as there have been mountain bikes, Steve was always open to new ideas and championed many oddball-at-the-time ideas that have since become industry standard. Steve was an early adopter of tubeless tyres, full suspension cross-country bikes, long top tubes and shorter stems and 29in wheels when none of them were in vogue.
Steve had been writing our bike tests for the last year, and had been a contributor and friend of the magazine for years before that. Personally, all of us at Singletrack have some great memories of Steve, and the mountain bike world has lost a great rider, writer and mentor to the generation of journalists who have tried to follow in his tyre tracks.
Steve didn’t just do bike tests for magazines, though. He raced the TransRockies with Keith Bontrager (only slowing down slightly after puncturing a lung); he accompanied Brant and me riding to the summits of Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell in 24 hours; he gave me advice at my first Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross back in 1998, and yet was still set to duel with Keith Bontrager at the 2014 running of the event. Steve was at bike shows and post-ride barbecues. He would race flat out one day, yet be happy to dawdle at the back of the social ride to the pub the next.
Whether writing, riding or talking, Steve was modest and quiet, but always helpful with a deep wisdom, an enquiring mind and a crafty, dry wit that would accompany his easy smile.
We’ll miss you, Steve Worland. A true gent, a gifted rider, an influential writer and a great friend to many.
how it all began
Pacific Edge Events wanted to create the UK MTB Hall of Fame in order to show recognition of mountain bikers of all disciplines and also key figures in the mountain bike industry.
Over a period of time, these figures will have all made a significant contribution towards making mountain biking in the UK what it is today through sport, passion and sheer hard work.
When we first spoke to James McRoy, Jason McRoy’s Dad, about our plans he immediately offered the support of his company, Glass Frog, with social media. Glass Frog have been a great help in getting that side of the Hall of Fame up and running. Jim’s support was swiftly followed by what we call our Founder Supporters, a fantastic group of companies from the cycle industry who have completely got behind our Hall of Fame project. We thank them all.
In the first year, along with our first industry supporters, we have pre-selected 12 people to be the first inductees to set the ball rolling.
By creating a virtual UK MTB Hall of Fame in the form of a website, we are providing a vehicle whereby riders and supporters can be the judge and jury of who will be elected in future years. A voting system will be introduced and will be limited to one vote per email address.
Every year, beginning in 2012, the UK MTB Hall of Fame will have a tangible presence at the UK’s premier MTB event, Mountain Mayhem, in a marquee specifically for the purpose. There will also be the inaugural UK Mountain Bike Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony, which will become a major feature of Friday evenings at Mountain Mayhem in years to come.
We look forward to an exciting future for all mountain biking fans everywhere.
If you want to become a Hall of Fame Supporter please email us.