alex joe rafferty interview-3
alex joe rafferty interview-3

Power struggle, brotherly love, letting the cat out of the bag – call it what you will. On a personal level it’s always a pleasure meeting Alex and Joe Rafferty, on a professional level it can be a disaster. Having been on both sides of the pain, getting a training plan off Joe, a night out with Alex, and also seen them at work with their respective fitness and coaching businesses Pro Ride Guides and MBCUK, Dirt decided to give them each a crack at describing each other like it is... 

From Dirt Issue 126 - August 2012

Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve Jones.

Click through to keep reading...

[part title="Alex and Joe Rafferty - Page 2..."]

alex joe rafferty interview-9
alex joe rafferty interview-9


How do you work together? Front of house/behind the scenes. How’s the mix?

If you were to email us you'd probably get a reply from me, and if you were to see us, you'd probably see Al first. The likelihood is though, if you were dealing with one of us, it wouldn't be long before the other came flying round the corner and got involved. Right now things are good, I think we both appreciate what the other brings to the table, and know that without the other we'd only be half as good.

You are RAF trained then, he isn’t? Does that affect things?

Yeah, I try not to drink the night before work, and I wear a watch so I'm generally on time. In all seriousness, I guess it does affect things. My whole life has been pretty much task orientated, whereas I’m sure Al’s only deadline is his funeral. I’m pretty good at staying focussed so I don’t mind doing that for both of us.

What’s he like as an instructor? Not just selling ice to Eskimos though?

He's talented and he's one of those guys that just has a huge presence even before he opens his mouth. When he does open his mouth he has the ability to make anyone believe and have confidence in what he says, which is great when it comes to riding as he knows what he's talking about. He's also pretty credible in the fact that three years ago he wasn't even racing, and he's only got to the level he has because of his own understanding and ability to communicate what actually makes a rider fast.

Walk in a shop and get more discount than staff?

Eye witnessed. He finds some way to get a deal wherever he is, and we all know it's not about the money with him, but the challenge. Fair play to him though, his pounds must be worth about 25% more than mine.

Is Alex just a fatty?

If he didn't ride a bike for a living he certainly would be.

VO2 Max?

Well, for those who don't know what VO2 max's basically the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilise over one minute, it's a good measure of how aerobically powerful someone is, and could be likened to the engine size in a car. The thing is though, just like power to weight ratio, it's always divided by your body weight to make the score relative. I tend to think of Alex's VO2 like an F1 engine trapped in a Leyland DAF chassis. Forever revving his tits off and longing for a bit of downhill.

You describe him as a ‘hand grenade’.

We can be driving to work and he won’t speak a word, then as soon as we get there he explodes off his concoction of Red Bull and Haribo with excitement and enthusiasm. It’s funny to watch as it really rubs off on anyone we’re coaching.

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alex joe rafferty interview-15

Almost bull like, he'll go for it and won't really look up till it's over. He'll attempt pretty much anything you dare him to and there's not much that will stand in his way of trying once he's got his sights set on something.

What about his riding style?

Strong, very precise and always committed.

Bike set up

Always a light build with a fast rolling rear tyre no matter how wet it is. He runs his suspension pretty fast which compliments his riding style.

What’s Alex’s attitude on a night out? (“I’m such a better person when I’m drunk").

'Let's go out,'

'Bro it's Sunday night,'

'Yeah but just for one...we deserve it.'

'Ahhh go on then'.

Although he doesn't like to admit it, he feels the effects of alcohol pretty quickly. One pint in he's usually feeling pretty pleased with himself. 'Barman! Two Zambukas, two pints please!'

'I'm such a better person when I'm drunk!' It usually starts like that, sometimes followed by a bit of impromptu barking, which even the convinced, but really confused, bar staff join in with. It's all or nothing, I don't think I've ever seen Al have a casual night out.

Physically same as his personality, 16 secs to trash someone right?

Immediate presence, domination, then slowly burns out. There's no way I’d out–sprint him, and there's now way I'd get the first word in. Whether it's just talking or riding, he's flat out from the off till he burns out.

Who would win an enduro stage?

You do know this is going to cause a fight? I've not been able to race this year due to an on-going shoulder injury, which means I can't really push it, so I’m not going to give it the big one. Al has improved a hell of a lot this year but lets just say I remain unbeaten, and in saying that I’ll probably get beaten…up.

alex joe rafferty interview-34
alex joe rafferty interview-34

Did you just say finer? What you see is what you get with Al, he lives for the moment, so he's ace to be around if you fancy getting totally lost in what ever you're doing there and then.

Discuss your similarities?

We're both left handed, we live about a hundred metres from each other, we have the same tattoo on our backs and we like to party. We’re similar in the fact that we’ll work towards the same outcome just in a different way. We’re both fully committed and we’ll always push each other to the limits on bikes, in work and through life.

[part title="Alex and Joe Rafferty - Page 3..."]

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alex joe rafferty interview-35

How do you work together? Front of house/behind scenes. How’s the mix?

Joe is good at admin jobs and I'm good at chewing the fat. Someone once told us to stick to what you’re good at. I agree. I'd like to think we compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we bounce off each other pretty well and don't often miss the mark when we've got a job to do. Working with family isn't always easy, when we're not working we're bro's, in work time we're Al and Joe who just happen to be brothers! It works well.

You describe Joe as a fiz monster? Physiology of…?

He literally never stops training. If he does stop he isn't himself. Being active and training isn't really a choice for Joe, it's a necessity. Sort of like a crack head without his fix... Not good to be around. Put him in his element – in the hills, on a bike and in any given weather, and he's the kingpin in any situation. Just don't take the fish out the water.

Same VO2 max as Lance Armstrong at his best?

So Joe represented GB at triathlon (I've got some mental pics in some horribly tight gear...). The top guys are regularly tested to make sure they're gonna reach the targets set by the coaches. Joe usually exceeded them, in one test he had the same result as Lance – basically you smash yourself until you collapse on a turbo. The level he pushed himself to has a very short list of achievers.

Same mental determination as?

I've known people who are seriously fit, fast and with incredible endurance, then the other people who get by on their sheer grit and determination, a drive to win, ultra competitive. Joe has the rare ability to achieve a maximum in both. Show weakness and he'll exploit it. Show pain and he'll begin pedalling.

Describe Joe’s riding style?

Flat out, no compromises. I've heard people say he's too fast for his own skill level, but then they're usually watching from the sidelines wearing a cast and rocking crutches or being smoked on the next section of trail like a lycra clad, body armoured, full face, glasses wearing euro shredder. Sometimes he does get a little sketchy but that's usually followed by a podium.

What’s he like when it comes to bike set up and maintenance?

I'm pretty handy with tools...he exploits that. I think more because I'm a bit of a tweaker and he can get away with it.

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alex joe rafferty interview-30

I usually get him pumped up with some barking beer and tequila. After that he usually disappears for a couple of hours and comes back smelling of either vomit or perfume...usually the latter.

Some people say you are all/all whilst Joe all or nothing?

Give everything into what you're doing – physical, mental or just fun. Joe is pretty calculated, if it won't make him happier or risks boring him he won't undergo the stress. If he's not interested you'll know pretty sharpish.

Who would win an enduro stage?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Who would win a downhill stage?

Would the most competitive man in the UK admit that his little brother (me) would beat him at anything? Not likely. Ha ha. We ride together so much that we're pretty even on a lot of things, but we recognise each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Keeping it simple, Joe is the fitter of us. I'm heavier so roll faster. Any more discussion would end in tears (Joe’s).

Describe the finer details of his personality?

Having raced all over the world, trained and lived the athlete lifestyle he's a pretty damn focused guy. He's got his own way of doing things, make a plan and execute. No deviations. Crazy good at getting jobs done fast and doesn't care much for the bullshit. He's the best kind of person to have supporting you if you're a pretty chilled 'it'll happen' guy. He keeps me on track and cracks the whip. I think a lot of people recognise and admire his desire and need to always better himself, whatever the task he'll recognise research, formulate and evaluate (so he says). He’s pretty opinionated and direct but he isn't ever too far off the mark.

Discuss your similarities?

alex joe rafferty interview-28
alex joe rafferty interview-28