Two time DH World Champion Fabien Barel talks about the art of flow

Mountain Biking Magazine



Two time DH World Champion Fabien Barel talks about the art of flow.


Dirt Magazine’s Steve Jones has been out and about with his modern cordless-video-phone recording the brain thoughts of the world’s best riders. First up, Fabien Barel.

It’s now ten years since we produced the Fundamentals video filmed so masterfully by Alex Rankin. It was a series of skills in which pro riders talked about how to become proficient in a variety of techniques from roots to line choice, manualling, cornering or heeling in a camber.

Today many people offer the services to teach the basics, they are still an essential part to anyone’s armoury. Yet it’s how to string together and integrate these into a free-flowing technique, one that is free of any stop-start movements which is at the very heart of that rare commodity – carrying speed. As such it is the core of riding skill yet as many will tell you in many ways is simply a feeling.

The master of flow. Fabien Barel. Photo//Steve Jones

But how to describe, rationalize, something that is in essence a feeling – a reaction? Here in an uncut moment in the hills north of Nice, two time world champion Fabien Barel talks openly about the unseen world of flow.
From feeling pressure through feet and hands, to changes to surface conditions we get an insight into a higher level of riding. The Frenchman is one of the sports great technicians and reveals that often it’s not something that can be learned by video or tutorial.

Flow is inexpressible. It’s partly instinct, partly a space in itself. Partly a path of least resistance within a landscape that breed’s power in which linking sections becomes part of the interrelated bigger picture. Flow is not describable in words because it’s something ‘other’.

This begins a series of very rough-cut videos with pro riders in the darker arts of riding.


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