Tell us about your involvement in Hardline over the years.
I’ve raced Hardline for the past 2 years. I actually missed the first year unfortunately as I was injured before out on a trip in France. I’ve been lucky that I’m friends with Affy (Dan Atherton). He’s always been good and got me an invite from Red-Bull, which is a privilege in itself! I feel I’m lucky to get an invite as I’m the only one (bar Affy) that doesn’t race professionally these days. All the other guys are on top of their game, so I feel really lucky to included alongside them.
As far as involvement goes, I like to say if I think something needs changing on track. The trail builders probably hate me… For example this year the track was dry and running really well apart from one wet boggy section. I hate getting muddy when the rest of the track is dry so I got them to dig the wet stuff off the top. The riders appreciated it anyway!
It’s great to be part of one of the biggest events to come to the UK.
How was the bike set up different at Hardline to say a National or a WC?
Everything much harder! We ran the tyres much firmer to deal with the pressure they take on the take offs. You don’t want them squirming off any of those ramps. Also the suspension was firmed up a lot, the last thing you want is the suspension sagging and sapping speed as you hit the massive jumps. The last modifcation, was actually taking my bottom of my MRP chainguide/bashguard off. The idea being, if I did case something there was less to grab the ground and send me over the bars.
How was the Hardline weekend event different to a “normal” race?
It’s completely different. The riders are a lot more chilled in their approach to going for runs. I think 3-4 runs a day was the most we managed. Partly because it was so scary, but also because you don’t want to be tired and push your luck on the track. Once you’d got everything jumped it felt like it was worth taking it steady. The less times you attempted stuff the less the chance of crashing!! Everyone rides together which is cool, it feels like a jam with everyone encouraging each other and getting excited when they made it through a section.
It’s weird, you feel a pressure, but it’s a completely different feeling than you get at a normal race.
How do you think events like Hardline help mountain biking?
I think they reach a wider range of people. Normal racing is quite niche really, where as I think Hardline can be appreciated by anyone even if they’re not bikers. Plus the coverage Red-Bull offer can only be helping the sport!
What plans do you have for the off-season? Will we see a return to more full time racing for Bondy?
This off season I’m going to be focusing on my bike coaching and personal training mostly. I slowed up on the racing (mostly through injuries) but also to focus on the work aspect of my life. I think I have a great mix now. I get to ride my bike as a job as a coach which I really love. There’s nothing better than having a day riding with someone when you can see the improvements they’re making. It’s a great feeling when someone makes progress.
I also keep fit with my personal training work, meaning it’s a real winner. I am going to be focusing on getting myself back to peak bike fitness. Actually getting out riding and training more often as I want to hit a few more races and events next year. And I’d like to do better!
Describe your ideal weekend of bikes.
Hmm that’s a hard one!! I think it would be just my mates uplifting all the little secret tracks round my house in the sun. Then the next day going on an adventure on the trail bikes round the mountains, maybe finding some lakes to swim in and mountains to climb.
If you could change one thing about biking, what would it be?
It would simply be the size of the sport. I wish it was bigger. Then I could get paid to race my bike!