PERSONALITY: GLOBE TROTTING
URBAN DOWNHILLER BEN MOORE
BEN MOORE SHARES HIS EXPERIENCE ON
URBAN RIDING AND LIFE ON WHEELS
Ben Moore is the kind of rider we'd love to hang out with. For a start, he seems to be interested in all sorts of gravity discipline. With his base in the United Kingdom, Ben has a whole world of opportunities for MTB gravity riding and racing before him. And with his daredevil attitude towards biking, Ben had his fair share of fun, injuries and stories to share. We met up with him before he went on to take the top spot at Red Bull Dark Knights 2016. This friendly dude shared with us his thoughts on gravity riding and a little secret move in the face of an imminent crash!
We started the interview with a Speed Session to get all our readers on the same page before we move on to the more in-depth topics. So here goes …
Sponsors: Orange Bicycles, TF Tuned Shox, For Goodness Shakes, DSM Design, Noba Event Intelligence, Flare Clothing, Samway and Son Cycle Shop, Kali Protectives, BLOC Eyewear, Kaiser Baas, Hope Technology, Mudhugger and Heal to Toe.
Favorite Trail: Outwest France for its amazing atmosphere, big wide dusty trails with jumps that get bigger as the ride goes further.
Favorite City to Ride: Taxco Mexico, it is different from the other places he rode, and it has huge jumps and massive drops.
Trail or Urban: Urban! It's the next big thing and it brings the races to the people! Ride the fun stuff right in the heart of the city and need not have to drive for miles to do that.
Favorite Bike: Varies: from Orange Crush for fast paced 4X style races to Orange 324 for massive gnarly races like those in Taxco, Mexico.
Favorite Food: Pizza!
Pets: A couple of dogs but they aren't what we would call "trail dogs".
Any Pre-Race Ritual: Depends on his mood just before the race. Some races, when he is feeling too chill, he will psyche himself up. In other races, when he is more tensed, he will try to calm himself down by thinking of calmer stuff. The main geez is to get himself into a positive mindset.
Ben's Cycle Idol: Chris Smith – one of the best freerider in the world!
How did it all started? Did u started biking by focusing on any specific discipline first?
I started riding at a really young age. I was always riding down anything me and my friends came across. We were always getting into trouble. As I grew older, I realized that I can't be doing that all my life. And I should put my interest and talent to better use. I then started racing. Initially, I kept a day job to make ends meet. By then, I was winning at some decent events. I seized the opportunity, resigned from my day job, and started riding full time. My savings kept me going until Orange Bicycles signed me up last year.
What values do u reckon are most important to a gravity rider?
A good rider (not limited only to gravity riders) will need to note 3 important aspects: Mental, Physical and the Bike.
"Mental" refers to the state of mind and attitude of the rider. That he would not give up or be intimidated in the face of challenges. And the willingness to perfect his skills over time, even to the point of taking baby steps if needs be, just to get things started.
"Physical" refers to the riders physical fitness level. Having a fit body would enable him to achieve more.
"The bike", of course refers to the rider's race weapon. The bike will help a rider win races. A good bike does not mean it must have all the top nof the line components. Rather, it should be well-tuned. We want to be sure the brakes are working well and the tyres are properly inflated to the right pressure for the race, so on so forth … having good mechanic help is a bonus of course.
Is downhill racing in a person's genes? Or it can be trained?
Definitely not a gene thing! Improvements and perfections can come from practice. Look at all the top downhill riders. They come in different sizes. Aaron Gwin is tall and big size while Bernardo Cruz is small-build. But both of them win races.
Now for some questions outside of urban downhill. Trail centers in the UK are a love-it-or-hate-it thing. What are your views of them?
I love trail centers. They are nice and wide, with some trails having big jumps and the best thing is – there's no hikers! I find riding at trail centers a lot of fun.
How easy/difficult is it to get the local riders in the UK to get involved with trail maintenance?
It is a good trail etiquette to keep the trail in good condition. There is a common understanding that we look after our own trails. Trail maintenance or restoration are done when we discover damage or areas that needed some work. They are rarely scheduled. Of course, we do not expect every rider to stop at every spot that needed work. Sometimes, they may be speeding pass and it's just not possible to stop and do anything.
We are not expected to help maintain trail centers since we pay a fee to ride there. But as far as I know, major maintenance days at trail centers are not frequent too. The trails that we lay our hands on are usually the free trails. So far, the riders had been able to maintain a good self-governed maintenance system as long as the trail is still in frequent use.
Another common etiquette we observe in the trail is that the locals maintain their own trails. That is to say that should I visit a friend up north and we ride his local trail, the local riders would not expect me to help dig in. Similarly, when they visit my local trails, I do not expect them to help dig or maintain the trails. Of course, there are exceptions when the visitors broke some features and they wish to restore it back to its original state or help remove the danger before carrying on with the ride.
Bike trivial questions ahead! For full-suspension bikes, do u have a preferred linkage system?
You may think I am sponsored by Orange Bicycle and I would say nice things about their bikes, but truth is, I love Single Pivot bikes. My riding style is aggressive and hard. And during urban downhill races like the ones in Taxco, Mexico, where the race route has many big hits and takes a lot out of the rider and the bike, the Orange 324's simple system give me back what I put in – with no suspected power loss in the bike's suspension system. It is also very responsive to my movements. Single Pivot suspension system suits my riding style.
The recent Enduro Fever has made many bike designers and manufacturers agree that mountain bikes' geometry should adopt the new school of thought -designing and manufacturing frames with longer top tubes and wheelbase. What are your views on that?
This is happening with almost all bike brands now! There is finally an agreement that longer bikes are good for speed and descends. From personal experience, when we are riding downhill, the longer wheelbase bikes simply work better. Orange Bicycles is going this direction too!
Parting question! Do you have any special technique to best reduce damage in the face of an imminent crash?
Besides screaming "Oh Sh*t!", you should act in contrary to how your body will naturally react. Instead of using your arms to block the fall (which will most likely result in broken collar bones during hard falls), you may want to quickly let go of the bike, curl your body into a ball as much as possible and roll off the impact! Very often, what happens during a crash is so sudden that your natural reaction would take over. So the best your could do is try to remember this and hope you have a chance to roll with the fall while protecting your vital parts. It will not be so easy to remember this step when things happen too fast though.
Special thanks to Red Bull for arranging for the interview
Photos by Bikezilla
And Big Cheers to Ben Moore for the win at Red Bull Dark Knights 2016!