To tell you the truth, mountain biking isn’t my first love. I like figure-skating. You know: spins, lutzes, triple axels, all that sort of thing. Like that “Dancing on Ice” programme.
When I mention Dancing on Ice though, there’s something I want to make clear: that’s not real figure-skating. The sort of figure-skating I do is out in the wild, away from civilisation, on natural ponds. You know, ones that have bits of stick and dead frogs frozen into their lumpy surface. Sometimes they’re not even completely frozen, but the risk of falling in is all part of the fun.
When I started skating back in the day, it was just me and a couple of mates, scoping out the countryside looking for ponds. Sometimes we’d get creative with an ice pick and some liquid nitrogen. Some people reckon it’s selfish to freeze a pond solid so you can figure-skate on it, but if no-one else is using it, where’s the problem?
Now ice rinks have started popping up everywhere, the sport has totally changed for the worse. Anyone can do it year-round, but it’s a completely sanitised experience. I reckon most of these new-school figure-skaters are more interested in eating Slush Puppies and chips in the cafe, or posing in the car park with their fancy skates.
By making the ice all smooth, they’re taking all the fun out of it. It’s an extreme sport FFS! There are a whole generation of figure-skaters out there who’ve never had to jump over a frozen otter, or fish their friend out from under some ice. And don’t get me started on the Olympics! How easy did that rink look?
Come skating with me at some point and I’ll show you all my favourite ponds. If it’s been a mild winter they might not be in peak condition – in fact you might not be able to skate on them at all – but I can still bore you stupid with lots of stories about how once I skated there and it was the best day ever.
Remember, figure-skating started on natural ponds, and if it’s not natural, it’s not figure-skating!