#vanlife may be the trendy Gap Yah phenomenon of the Instagram generation but Ben Reid has been a dab hand at the whole thing for donkey's.

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From 14 he was taking the Rosslare to Fishguard ferry in his dad's camper to race the Nationals (or Rav4s as they were known then) and, as soon as he could drive, he inherited the van, painted it black and the Black Knight, and Ben's life on the road, was born.

Today Ben winters a few miles outside of Belfast in an old farmhouse big enough to house the team as well as a workshop and enough storage space for the four vans he’s accrued through his racing career Most of Ben's time is spent hibernating in his office sorting out sponsors and riders for the coming season before prep begins in spring time for the year ahead with new jerseys and graphics to be deigned and logistical matters to be sorted.

the boys
the boys

In the summer he hits the road in the Vampire Deluxe - the latest addition to his fleet. It was first bought at 24, a period that Ben calls "the beginning of the end" of his racing career. As a junior, Ben won the UK National series and even bagged a sixth place at Rampage. Instead of joining a factory team, he set up Just Reid Racing and, alongside Alastair (Goose) Beckett, took on the World Cup circuit. It wasn't always a dream though, he says: "I was still able to seed inside the top 10 a lot of the time and went on to podium at some rounds of the UK national series but for the most part the focus wasn't there and neither was the feeling that I deserved to be there knowing the lack of time I was putting into my training and riding."

Ben Reid by Ben Winder on Dirt Mountain Bike.
Ben Reid by Ben Winder on Dirt Mountain Bike.

Ben was trying to cram in racing, running a team, filming and converting a van. It was a tough ask. He explains: "Alongside sponsorship management and training it took the next 3-4 off seasons to properly finish off the conversion, my gym sessions were short, intense and normally finished gone midnight after a day behind the laptop and an evening working on the bus."

Things getting serious in the Orange Dirt World Team pits. Bossman Ben Reid attending to matters with a spot of impromptu clothes tailoring.
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In 2010, the 'Just Reid RaceTeam' became Team Dirt with Ben and Dan Stanbridge at the wheel. By 2014, Ben had stopped racing altogether and was now running the team full time.

The team has gone from strength to strength under his guiding hand with Jacob Dickson grabbing third as a first year junior at the Hafjell World Champs and Phil Atwill nailing the team's first senior podium at Lenzerheide this year.

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Ben said: "Even with all the experience I have from doing this over the years I still find myself learning every year, building a better understanding for the difference types of teams out there and how we all get to the same end goal of having our ducks in a row come March time each year.

"The Dirt team is a privately run team where currently Propain is our frame partner and we rely heavily on securing co sponsor deals in a timely manor so we can nail down our riders and staff. Although we always seem to get there in the end it can somethings take a little longer for a team such as ours to nail down enough budget so we can be in the position to make those all important offers to our riders.

Dirt Norco race team 2013-4
Dirt Norco race team 2013-4

"Factory teams on the other hand are run in house by the bike manufacture themselves where most of the budget comes from them and through internal OEM deals that prompt the co-sponsors to contribute a percentage of the sales towards their team, therefore they can be in a more financially secure position much sooner and can take advantage of this by hand picking the team they desire.

"Fortunately the Dirt Team has some great sponsors on board with a clear understanding of whats required to make it all happen so this really hasn't been to much of a problem for us and on the other hand being a privately run team with myself as an ex World Cup racer at the wheel I have a lot more flexibility and control over the entire structure from media, and making sure all the riders needs are met.

"Right now I am working on some big plans for the team and feel 2018 is going to be our most exciting year yet...

"Big thanks to all the current sponsors...

"Propain BikesZelvy CarbonX-Fusion SuspensionFunn ComponentsJuice LubesBell HelmetsSchwalbe TyresBliss ProtectionGiro ShoesXForce EyewearRock GuardzOlfi Head CamsSAR SpringsSlik Graphics."

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