Endtroducing: Tom Caldwell

Pie, tea and a bit of filming

We love Tom Caldwell. He turned up here at the Dirt office some years ago (and without sounding cheesy) we’ve seen him grow from a little kid into… well, a little man (joke).

He came to do an internship and it is like he never left. He bit the bullet, he took the risks and he just went with the flow. He now finds himself as the ‘media guy’ for the Dirt Propain Zelvy race team, following them and documenting their every move. He has also just finished a film for us, the ‘breath of fresh air’ and highly successful ‘A Slice of British Pie’. The future looks bright for this one.

Photos: Various!

Who is Tom Caldwell?

Some kid from Warrington who likes punk rock and fisheye.

Where do you live?

Deep in the Warrington ghetto. The type of place where everyone thinks they’re harder than a brick wall.

What’s your job title?

Officially I’m a Freelance Filmmaker but I’m also team media dude for the Dirt Propain Zelvy race team.

What do you do?

Tell riders to ‘inside’ corners way too fast, and point a camera at it. In the summer I follow the World Cups with the team, and in the winter I try to make really cool UK videos, and watch shedloads of Wheeler Dealers. I try to ride everyday when I’m home and I quite like to stare at BMW’s. Oh and I drink lots of tea.

How long have you been a film maker?

I’ve tried to make films since high school. Doing what I’m doing now, about 3-4 years. But officially as a ‘job’ about a year and a half now.

How did you land the job?

Well in 2014, good old Dave Jaquin (ex-Dirt web editor) somehow said yes to me going down to the Dirt office for five weeks for my work placement in my second year of university. That ended and I went up to Fort William at some ridiculous speed in Steve Jones’ van. I was introduced to team manager Ben Reid up there and he liked the work I was producing, and by the end of the season he wanted me to go to World Cup finals with what was then the Dirt Orange team. I quit my warehouse job, and threw all my uni work on the back-burner, and cracked on to Meribel. Came home, set up self employed, and here I am – trying my best to make it work.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

That warehouse job was pretty grim, so I’ll go with that. But it bought me my bike and my cameras so I won’t complain too much. It was quite the doss around. We just ended up racing pallet trucks around and ramming glass tables in the forklifts.

Where’s your favourite place?

As daft as it might sound – home. There’s not too many hills round here but there’s something about it that I can’t put my finger on, I do very much like home. Travelling to all the cool places I do is amazing though. I feel insanely lucky to be doing it. Geneva and Windham last year were ace – I liked those spots. I’m a big fan of Wales too.

Where’s your favourite place to ride?

South Wales or Triscombe I’d say. Proper good UK riding. Not into bike parks really. My local, Delamere Forest, is always a laugh too.

When are you happiest?

Whenever I’m with a good group of people, we’re out in the sticks and the vibe is good. Aside from that, when a video gets really good feedback, when somebody is buzzing over a shot or just when I’m on my bike.

What makes you angry?

People who have their sodding fog lights on when it’s sunny.

What makes you happy?

Progression, productiveness, punk, a nice exhaust note, like-minded people, videos that boggle my mind, getting a corner good or getting a slide on, imperfect things, the sound of cutties, and a bit more punk.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

It’s actually from the man who asked me these questions. Mike Rose was doing roll-backs (fakies) down the grass bank outside the Dirt office one sunny day – very well may I add. He wandered back through the door and said ‘you have to try and be a rad guy at every stage in your life’ and strolled off with a swagger (Editors note: I don’t ever remember saying that!). I’ve tried my best to adhere to that since.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?

I’m not sure if you know. I tend to listen, more than tell. Maybe ‘jib her off’, or failing that maybe when I told Phil Atwill to ride into the lake at mach 10 in Lenzerheide on a road bike with only his boxers on. That turned out to be some good advice.

What are your extravagances?

Green shorts, raw onion, dirty old beamers, toast, coleslaw, top gear and bob hats.

Who do you admire?

Joe Bowman. He’s the man and he’s helped me loads recently, which I’m greatly thankful for. People like Josh Lewis and the CP GANG too, for being able to make wild videos and still be sick on bikes. I admire the commitment of riders like Atwill and Bryce who will just believe they can do something on a bike, like a stupid gap, and will just straight up do it – no bother.

What’s the most important thing in your life?

Keeping a positive mental attitude. If it had to be something physical then probably my bike.

What would you never throw away?

My old hard drives and my mates.

What’s your greatest fear?

Loss of control. Or accidentally having my fog lights on when it’s not foggy.

What was your luckiest escape?

Lame yes, but 6 or 7 of us as kids used to fire bamboo arrows from some pretty highly strung home-made crossbows at people in the park where I used to live. Like a full on predatory ambush. We got chased away by lots of angry people so I guess that was fairly lucky to not get decked, or to have anyone’s eye out. As for anything recent, I had some lucky escapes on the back of a moped in Vietnam last year. I nearly died seven times in one day. I very nearly got wiped out by some big old 40 ton wagons.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

Make a brew and crack Wheeler Dealers on.

What’s the last thing you do at night?

Have three rounds of toast and have a gander on Instagram.

What would be your dream meal?

Got to be a Biriyani from the Indian near me.

What things do you always carry with you?

Loads of bumfluff. I’m rich in bumfluff currency. I’d say my iPod is the only thing that’s consistently with me. Aside the boring and obvious phone and keys. I don’t always have my camera with me though – I like to see the world outside of a viewfinder too.

Do you have any regrets?

None that I can pinpoint, but just not having the balls to talk to people when I really should have.

What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learnt?

Hard graft pays off, cut the bullsh*t, life begins at your limits, and the infamous life lesson of manning up.

If you could have dinner with three famous people (dead or alive) who would they be?

I think it’d have to be Clarkson, Hammond and May.

Who is your favourite rider?

Got to be Aggy (Graham Agassiz) I think – he’s the boy. I’ve always been a fan of Rat and Nick Pescetto too. I’m kind of biased but Phil Atwill n’ all. We work so well together and he’s nuts on the bike.

What’s your favourite bike product of all time?

I used to think dropper posts wouldn’t take off, but they’re actually amazing.

What’s your least favourite bike product of all time?

Anything that’s ‘enduro’ specific. I bloody hate fads too, and that’s definitely one.

What’s your favourite motto or saying?

‘Time is gold, spend it well’. That’s from a sticker stuck on Ben Winder’s steering wheel. I also like ‘Growing up is giving up’.

What saying do you use too much?

‘Sorry, I messed that shot up. Fancy going again?’

What bike are you riding at the moment?

Orange Alpine 160 Bling-Bling Edition.

What was the last magazine you read?

Well duh.

What are you listening to at the moment?

A band called ‘Latterman’. Check them out, they make some awesome soundtracks.

What one thing would you change about yourself?

I’d love to be able to send some dirty gaps and have the commitment to hit FEST sized stuff.

What are your weaknesses?

I find it hard to relax sometimes. If my brain isn’t going 100% then I’m usually not happy and need to remind myself to chill out. Catchy riffs and tea and biscuits do the trick too (preferably non-chocolate McVities digestives).

What does the future hold for you?

If all goes to plan, lots more cool videos and more full length films. Boundaries are waiting to be pushed. I just want to crack on with what I’m doing now because this is effectively the dream and it still hasn’t sunk in yet. Hopefully plenty more wild times too.

What does the future hold for mountain biking?

The pans and zooms revolution! It’s on, I tell you. But seriously I think it holds a way bigger focus on big mountain events like Rampage and FEST. I think things will just get progressively crazier and hopefully people move away from freeride flicks and putting their goggles on at the start of videos. I guess ‘enduro’ is here to stay but I’m not sure that I want much to do with it. Mountain biking is still young and growing I guess. It can only get better, surely?

How would you like to be remembered?

Somebody who did things a bit differently, somebody who never really grew up, and that spiky haired kid from school who just rode his bike and it ended up sending him all over the place, and much further than your 9–5.


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