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JOE BARNES – THE BIG DEAL | INTERVIEW

 

After seven years of carving the international downhill circuit Fort William local Joe Barnes has jumped ship, and this year he will set sail for the World Enduro series on a German bike. He takes the Dudes of Hazzard with him. All hands on deck…

DIRT ISSUE 132 – FEBRUARY 2013

Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve Jones

The plan was always going to be a simple one, implemented in an effortless manner, finished with something a touch provocative. ‘Fuck it Boys, we’re off to Sweden’. Flowing and considered, featuring reckless pool dives and Bothnian sunsets way above the mellow latitudes of his some–time home on the road to Mallaig, the ‘Dudes of Hazzard’ to many is the antithesis of the modern day mountain bike video. Closer to reality, lower on budget, but packing a potent, independent, but never offensive, punch. It’s the tale of the broken water pump, the one set of pants and jerry can of Coke. The banter and bailouts that we’ve all done at some point, and that many of us can connect with.

Does he reverse the trend? Will he bring enduro into direct competition with downhill? Will he win? How will he deal with days off the Orange (his previous long term sponsor)? These are all questions I didn’t ask him, but will be on everyone’s minds up until the season kicks off.

Dirt: Not afraid of a bit of grafting it seems Joe?

Joe Barnes: Too true. I am definitely a doer, with a happy mix of procrastination and faffing though. If I want a new trail, it gets seen to. Or if the Landship needs a fettle, the site lamps and power tools come out and things get done.

Runs in the family? Outdoor to the core?

The balance of work and play are finely tuned in my family. My parents like to travel and spend the majority of time on their boat sailing around the world. To my fair–weather father’s bitter disappointment, however, they are in Scotland this cold winter kitting out a new house. It’s an old beauty sitting in an oak wood with plenty of space to spread out. The last few weeks have been spent clearing the garden and having a big bonfire each day. I have started rebuilding the half burnt down shed for my operation ‘super shed’ project.

Your upbringing, which included self–sailed trips across the Atlantic, must have shaped what you do today? You seem to travel a lot?

I do feel I had a great childhood, more so from growing up around Fort William than sailing. It is a great playground for getting excited in. As a miniature Ray Mears I paddled, sailed, stabbed and arsenated my way about when I was wee. I have a theory that by growing up here you become more rowdy in the outdoors than many others. The crew before me jumped Monessie gorge (85ft), I jumped it and the young guns after me will do it too. Bikes have always been key for me and when we as a family went sailing for a year, I missed my bike more than anything. I would draw pictures of bikes in my logbook and the first thing I did when I got home was jump on my old Raleigh Amazon steed and do a massive skid. This combination of where I grew up, with back–country skiing from when I was a metre high, and my family’s sense of adventure, has definitely made me not shy of travel and has shaped what I do today. I took a trip to New Zealand when I was 17 with my friend James back in 06/07 and since then I haven’t stopped. Trucking around Europe mostly, shying away from planes and their limiting factors, and favouring going where the road takes you.

You say you’ve been busy rebuilding an amazing timber house with your folks?

Yes, this is really exciting for the Barnes family on the whole. It’s a great spot to put down a base and suits us all perfectly for the time being. My dad is a joiner and I will be helping get the place into order this winter. At the moment mum is in charge as it is getting gutted and the grounds groomed. Once the outside is sorted work will begin indoors, sorting out the wiring and plumbing first.>>

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