Phil Auckland 1
Phil Auckland 1

The most common reaction I get when showing a non–rider footage of myself riding dirt is largely negative.


Words by Olly Wilkins. Photos by Ben Mark

‘You're stupid, that's crazy, that's dangerous, that's, blah, blah, blah. Boring people always try to make you feel stupid. I'm OK though. I know that riding big jumps or doing big tricks doesn't mean I'm necessarily stupid. I'm completely safe. Why? Well there’s actually a very good reason. Because Phil Auckland rides the same jumps as me…and he's smart as f–k.

Phil Auckland is 22 and comes from Coventry. Before I was told I would never have guessed that he has juggled his riding with an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences. A real gnarly degree! It always comes as a surprise when people can speak to you with the same enthusiasm for both riding and academia, and Phil is one of those people. I enjoy asking him questions about disease and illness, and get the same feeling of surprise every time he answers in a clear and concise way! Kind of the same way he might answer a question about a trick. When he rides I feel as though it’s too easy. He's one of very few dirt jump riders with a really calm scientific approach to learning new things. I've watched him teach himself tricks through trial and error…calculated error, not hit and hope. I always get a bit carried away when I try new things, not Phil. You can see him deconstruct what went wrong and change it until it works. Now I've made him sound like a robot, he's not. I’ve also made him sound like a nerd…he’s not. Phil has great style and a huge trick bag. Why he hasn’t had more success in contests has always evaded me. He probably just has too much on his plate.

He’s now working at Warwick University doing his PhD in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research and riding at the same time. Must be hard to go from three step–through X–ups straight into researching how brown fat can be used as a future diabetes treatment. If anyone can then it’s Phil Auckland!