Matt Walker Interview | The Next Generation of World Cup Racers

On Friday 28th of March, 2014, the cream of the UK downhill scene came rolling into the slate mines of Llechwedd, Gwynedd, North Wales, all looking for the prestigious prize of ‘best in class’…

From Dirt Issue 147 – May 2014

Words by Steve ‘the Butcher’ Walker. Photos by Laurence Crossman–Emms.

Crufts, the greatest dog show on earth, where champions are crowned, from schnauzers to weimaraners to wirehaired poodles. It’s not an open competition, dogs (riders) must have qualified throughout the previous years at licensed Kennel Club events (in other words UCI ranking rounds) where only the cream of the doggy ‘shampoo and set’ brigade rise to the top. It’s a cut throat business that involves poopa scoops (jet washers), paw type nail clippers (tyres), de–matting devises (pedals), bamboo brushes (riding kit) and flea combs (helmet and goggles). If the ‘pampered pooch’ in question finally makes it to ‘the show’ it’s because of successful breeding from when they first became a puppy. This is something that doesn’t just happen. It takes planning, whether male or female, dog or bitch. A strategic plan of fitness training usually in the form of walks around the park (sessions down the BMX track), a strict schedule of stamina building exercise of sniffing at every other lamppost (riding XC), a diet of tinned food with the odd bowl of homebrew (but only on none race event weekends), followed by intense sessions of digging holes to bury bones in (pushing weights at the local gym). After all this the chosen puppy is placed on (or clipped–into) a DH bike, taken to the top of a rock strewn, steep and slippery hill and told to pedal like a bitch (not a dog) and not to touch his/her brakes. Onlookers who don’t know anything about DH bike racing would call this crazy. We simply like to call it the ‘breeding ground’ where legends are born and hearts (sometimes paws and hind legs) are broken…

On Friday 28th of March, 2014, the cream of the UK downhill scene came rolling into the slate mines of Llechwedd, Gwynedd, North Wales, all looking for the prestigious prize of ‘best in class’. Word on the street is that Antur Stiniog is the Welsh equivalent of the epic race track Fort Bill (but on a smaller scale I suppose). It’s a year–round mountain bike rider’s paradise, and whilst eavesdropping on a conversation recently at Hopton Woods you can tell that Adrian Bradley (who runs Anthur) and his team are truly passionate about their chosen sport, and it shows. Riders go ‘barking mad’ to get on to the Antur uplift on a weekly basis (I know because I can never get a bastard place when I try and book) with the view of riding the four active runs on offer. The old slate mines are a massive hit with weekend warriors, but this is the first time a British DH national has been held there. Is Antur the type of venue that will ‘breed’ our young pups into DH riding legends such as Steve Peat, the Athertons, Josh Bryceland and Brendan Fairclough? So, instead of doing the run of the mill type race report, the ‘guvna’ at this here mag decided that it would be cool to tell the story of an up and coming racer.

Our chosen puppy is newly signed Madison/Saracen rider Matt Walker and his pack. We want to know how his first national of 2014 went, his thoughts on the track/venue and whether the UK DH race scene is a good enough ground for breeding on!>>

Click through to keep reading… 


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