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Matt Walker Interview | The Next Generation of World Cup Racers

So, Ian. Downhill mountain bike racing. Was it your idea or Matt’s?

Mountain biking was my idea initially, I had the bug and Matt wanted to come and do some XC with me. After making him ride the Llandegla red route aged 10 on a BMX he was still undeterred and I bought him a extra small Giant Trance frame which was too big for him but he still managed to overtake most of my riding buddies on the descents. Downhill was his love, YouTube and online videos of freeride and DH stars riding bike parks and DH tracks inspired him to want to get into it.

It’s pretty dangerous. What does your wife say?

Sarah has been used to me racing cars and motorbikes since we met at 16, that’s a few years ago now, but she knows boys must be boys and although she wouldn’t do it herself she’s cool with it.

Do you think taking Matt racing as helped in the age old bonding of father and son?

Matt racing is great, we get to do loads together through the sport. We have always both raced Pearce Cycles events and these weekends are hectic, with both of us racing we don’t get to ride together much through the weekend, I always manage to see him complete his run though before getting the uplift to do mine. The BDS though is a whole lot more serious in my mind, I have enjoyed taking the support role and not riding myself. This year, now Matt has a professional team behind him my role will change again, but we are both buzzing about the season’s racing.

Are there any negatives about going DH racing?

Great people, great bikes, great tracks, I cant see any negatives there… it’s hell on the washing machine though!

Are the rest of the family into it? You know, nan, grandpa, neighbour’s dog?

Usually the whole family come to a race weekend, including our Boxer dog Millie and her Pal Rosie the Cavalier, joined on race day by the Grand Parents, so yeah we get though some tea bags in a weekend!

Talking of costs, how much do you think you’ll spend on attending this year’s BDS rounds?

BDS this year, Fort William is the big haul, eight hours each way, Ae is a fair drag too, but our Shropshire base is well situated for Llangollen, Antur Stiniog and BikePark Wales, but with practice at these venues as well travelling alone will see a bit of cash off, I don’t even want to add it up! Luckily we will be using the camper to get to all the events so we have no additional hotel fees, etc.

Bloody hell! That’s still relatively cheap in comparison to say going go cart racing though?

Compared to any motor sport DH is cheap, I raced Superbikes for 10 years and each race would cost £600–£1k, and that’s doing it on the cheap.

So, you’re ploughing your money/time into racing bikes down a hill. Is there a goal that yourself and Matt are hoping to achieve?

Last year Matt was a second year Juvenile and he won the BDS, National Champs and Pearce Cycles Championship, so as far as 2013 goals he smashed the lot. This year he steps up to Youth Class, and it will be a learning year, but we hope he can bother the podium places. As for the future Matt has his eye on winning, I have seen Matt’s skill level grow faster than I could have expected, he has put lots of effort into training over the winter, his strength and fitness has come on quickly. He has done this without me pushing him, he wants to be faster, with a professional team like Madison Saracen and support from the likes of Will Longden and the rest of the team riders to aspire to it is going to be great to see how his speed develops.

Have you a time factor in mind on Matt’s riding career, where you say ‘enough is enough son, you need to go and get a paper round’?

Not really, Matt is a bright kid, his schoolwork is top notch, we as parents are so proud of his achievements so far, he really seems to have found his thing, he has his own drive and desire to do well, whilst he continues to grow in the sport and be competitive I’m sure we will be there to back him all the way.

So who won? After all this was a mountain bike race. It was the kid in this here picture. Let’s wind the clock back 15 years to a summer’s day at Bringewood, near Ludlow. It was my first ever uplift day and ‘our Danny’ just happened to be there. I honestly couldn’t believe that anyone could ride a bicycle like him and yet when he took his helmet off he was just a kid that weighed no more than 8 stone. I could see he was ‘that good’ so to speak, but I’d seen the ‘that good’ in riders all too many times before, only for the riders in question to reach an age where sex, drugs and rock’n’roll take precedence over riding. Thankfully Danny stuck to his goals and kept rolling over the ‘ground’ that ‘breeds’ greatness, eventually delivering the greatest downhill mountain bike race run ever witnessed, that being the 2011 World Championships in Champery. The only difference now is the kid that I watched 15 years ago is now a man (even though he doesn’t seem to have changed much size wise). But, it’s like they say ‘it’s nothing to do with the size of the dog in the fight; it’s all about the size of the fight in the dog’. Aint that right Danny?

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