Mr Newman has been on the scene for what seems like forever. I remember a photo of him in MBUK mid heel-clicker when he rode for Muddy Fox. That must have been what ten years ago?! Since then he has strayed away from crazy tricks and refined a distinct style based around clicked tables both ways and one of the best whips in the industry. Having competed in the King of Dirt (KOD) series over a number of years he has become well known among the dirt jumping community across the country. While in the latter half of his twenties, on a bike he's like an excitable teenager. His enthusiasm is infectious, livening up any evening or hungover trails session. Without further ado, the first getabmx MTB're interview!
Age: 26 years young
Years riding: Too many! I suppose its about 20 years since I was the little kid making little brick and board jumps and riding round like a loonatic!
Sponsors: Flow Bikes, Nookie Bikes Components, Society Forks, Halifax Credit card! (lol)
Bike set-up: Flow Ting Frame, Society Xeno Forks, Nookie 10 NR bars, Nookie Fist Stem, Nookie Playa Pedals, Insane Cranks, Sensus Swayze grips, Funn hubs, Funn (old skool as hell) rim, Funn F2 disk brake, Schwalbe table top tyres, NARROW BARS 4 LIFE!!
Day job: Part-time Secondary School music teacher.
Food: Can’t beat a Sunday Roast, roast beef is definitely the winner!
Drink: Cider and black, those Bulmers blend 17 stuff is pretty special!
We’ve just reached the end of the trails season, how has 2011 gone for you?
To be fair it’s been the best season I’ve had in ages!! I’ve been pretty chuffed with it… finally managed to get 360s and a few variations tucked under my belt which in turn helped me at this years comps. For years I have just been going to have fun, see people and ride the comp for the sponsors rather than a top 3 position; to be honest I still have that attitude but because I’ve been pushing myself a bit and still having fun with it I managed to qualify for the final of every comp this year! I think my top placing was a 6th or 7th but I consistently got further than qualifying and finished higher than last out of all the finalists without backflipping, frontflipping or tailwhipping! But yeah its been a wicked season, pretty good weather, a good few trips to other spots, lots of good sessions at the K-hole and bar my bruised heels and fucked up hand from 3 weeks ago it’s been another injury free season.
How did the jam go this year?
The jam was so good this year, in the words of Craig Potter (NS Bikes – pro rider) “Faaakin well goooood!” Again the weather was kind to us and blessed us with good weather in the week up to it and a lovely weekend for the jam to actually be held on. It was a good crack, loads of people made the journey from different parts of the UK with a good 15 or 20 people camping at mine with the obligatory Saturday night cycle down to the pub to get sloshed followed by the pitch black country lane mission back from the pub. Actually this year was good as Dezray (aka Laughing Boy aka Desticle aka Derek Pinkett) gave most of us a tow back with his L200!! But yeah a proper good one, fancy dress riding actually happened too, although not enough people got involved.
Was this the first time a jam has been held at K?
It was the second year we have had an official jam at the Hole. I suppose in years past we would inevitably have a weekend where a shit load of people turn up to ride, but its only the last 2 years we actually invited lots of people, made an event of it, had camping at mine & most importantly, been allowed to use the village common as parking! It’s been good tho, it definitely grew and improved over the past two years. Next year is gonna be mad though; it will most probably coincide with the local village street party again which then turns a bit mad with a load of pissed up dirt jumpers there!
It wasn’t long after the jam that the big line grew. Was this in response to rider feedback or to keep up with other trails spots?
Nah it was because of neither of those; we don’t really care about ‘keeping’ up with other trails spots, K-hole is different and we like to keep it unique rather than try and copy any trends. And as for rider feedback everyone was loving the set so Pete’s changes may prove controversial!
The real reason was that Pete Ford (the main digger and absolute legend of K-Hole) had started riding them, really liking them, which then lead him to think about them a bit. This resulted in him deciding that, although called the big line, all the other jumps around them had grown in effect making the big line the not so big line anymore. Therefore they are now in the process of being resurrected as an ‘officially big’ new big line!
Rob (right) chilling with Freddy while Dylan gets the grill going. Jack Gear Invitational, 2013
Racing in 2007. Photo courtesy of raceshoot.com
"I suppose having Gee and Dan (Atherton) about helped with that a bit, in fact we all did our first DH race together."
So how and when did you get into riding?
Oh dear god, what a question? How long have we got? Basically since a young kid I have loved riding bikes from making little tracks round the farmyard to making ramps to take down our lane and launch as far as possible to riding the tracks at K-Hole when we were primary school kids!
Proper being fully into biking, buying MBUK, getting proper mountain bike that could take some abuse was when I was 11 though; I sold my share in my horse to but an 18” cromo-steel Diamond back hardtail. It was so good lol! And then it was a matter of weeks later that the bloody Athertons decided to get mountain bikes too!!
Didn’t you start out riding DH?
Well we always rode jumps but yeah used to be well into DH and hucking off big drops and stuff. I suppose I must have been 14 when I started doing the South West series DH races and we’d always go up in the hills round here making and riding tracks. There was such a good crew of rider when we were back at school, I suppose having Gee & Dan (Atherton) about helped with that a bit, in fact we all did our first DH race together.
You must have been pretty competitive doing a lot of races. How did the MuddyFox deal come about?
The Muddy Fox deal started from me blagging a bit of a deal from a local bike shop when the big old Diamondback frame actually died so I got one of the Muddyfox Dual slalom aluminium hardtail frames £100 cheaper than it should have been which I rode & raced. The two chaps from Muddyfox that you saw at races back then, Steve Weir & Ben Cox, were also mates with the owner of said bike shop which resulted in me “borrowing” a pair of RST High Five forks that Ben had left there. However I managed to snap the forks riding in some woods about a mile from the shop which was a fucker, fully grazed face the lot! Luckily I knew Steve’s pair of High Fives were also in the shop so I went and made one working pair out of the 2 sets, mainly so that my folks were none the wiser that I had snapped forks but also to enable me to ride. Anyway this all transpired into me paying the Muddyfox gents a small fee for the forks I had off them, making them take more notice of me shredding the DH races on one of their hard tail frames and eventually leading them to ask whether I fancied riding for them and testing some of their prototypes etc.
The rest as they say is history haha
It must have been cool being on the same team as the Athertons! What was that like?
Yeah it was pretty cool being on Muddyfox with the Athys. It was kinda like things were back before sponsorship, just riding together, helping each other out and having a laugh. At that point they were living near Cheddar in Somerset so it was only events and races that I'd see them but at that point they were already making large ripples in the MTB world.
Are you still in contact with them?
Unfortunately I don't often see them anymore, maybe once every couple of years; they are so flat out busy with their training and racing schedules that they don't have a lot of time for much.
Why did you move away from DH?
University – that is the reason! Unfortunately the university lifestyle didn’t complement the money thirsty sport of DH and without a car I was screwed. It was a shame really cause living just north of Cardiff I wasn’t far from prime DH territory and I did get out a few times but as the DH bike got more shonked, I just couldn’t afford to keep it running on top of the getting hammered most nights of the week.
“There are too many kids that don’t learn the basics before the big tricks and their style definitely suffers as a result."
How did you get into the K-hole scene, and was this the first set of trails you got involved with?
I suppose I have grown up with the K-Hole scene, as primary school kids it was a few lumps and berms and tracks to ride down, as secondary school kids it had moments of resembling a 4 man BMX track to moments of being something like it is today. When the Atherton’s left the village when we were 14 or 15 the jumps were a little on the big side for the rest of us locals so they did shrink slightly at that point but since then they have just grown with us and our ability.
Can you give me some K-hole history?
I suppose I just have in the previous question. But yeah it may not have turned out how it has today had the Atherton’s not lived in the village.
How did you (k locals) get around the council issues with the trails?
Well it took a fair bit of perseverance, talking to the Parish council, respecting their requests to not use the jumps until the issue was sorted and many hours of pulling my hair out at what may happen. We were pretty lucky that the majority of the village support what we do and enjoy being able to walk past and watch us on a sunny summers day.
On the legality side of things we were also very lucky as the jumps are on common land that no-one has ever wanted to use as grazing land (mainly cause there's not a lot more than stinging nettles in there!) and that technically there is no registered land owner that could be held liable.
What advice would you give to other riders facing opposition towards their trails?
If any one else is in this kinda position, I would say keep the channels of communication fully open between the powers that be and yourselves. You need to discuss the problem loads and get as many people on your side as possible.
When did you start competing in the KOD?
My first kinda comp/display must have been Nass the summer I finished my GCSEs, 10 delightful years ago! Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun.
What are your views on the series? e.g. the spots, rating criteria?
Well this is an unfair question as I’m now co-organiser of the Dirt Wars comp series alongside Cliff Barbeary. Lol. But its definitely a good thing that the comp series are still running. For the last 2 years we have had both the National King of Dirt series and Cliff’s Dirt Wars series to compete in which has been good in the way of giving us more to do and chose from. However it has at times thinned out the turn-out to some of the comps. With regards to the venues there has been a slow improvement in the spots used and I think things will slowly improve further; hopefully Dirt Wars will be pushing this in 2012 to create the best series possible for the riders. Rating criteria? I suppose you mean the judging? Well that’s always going to be a contentious subject, it is so subjective after all and at times the framework with which the judges have to work within can be some what sketchy. Hopefully this will sharpen itself up over the next few years, maybe trying to become more standardized taking ideas from the FMB world tour judging. However I think I have benefitted this year from judges looking at the whole picture rather than just looking for big banger tricks. It should be about your whole run, style, smoothness, variety of tricks, whether you trick every jumps, whether your rotations are bang on etc. This is the way I’d like to see comp judging go.
There seems to be an emphasis on big tricks. Do you think flow and style should be scored higher?
Well I wouldn’t say higher, but definitely more equally. Its all good being able to do the big bangers, but if they look horrid or sketchy then what’s the point! There are too many kids that don’t learn the basics before the big tricks and their style definitely suffers as a result.
Best trails spot in the UK?
Its so hard to call one favourite, but my top 3 from this year would be 4a, Holdshott and (as always) Wisley.
Bogey trails, shot by Ferg
"We just couldn’t believe it when the headlights and blue flashing lights appeared right behind us on this field!"
Where would you most like to ride?
That’s a hard question too, I want to get back into proper mountain bike riding as after doing the Red Bull Weekend warriors downhill event I really have got the DH bug again (just no bike yet to fulfill the itch yet) so I would love to get out in the Alps, maybe do a Megavalanche event. Also British Columbia, Whistler, anywhere where there’s big proper mountains or rad trails in Canada or the US.
What about Post Office trails or Woodwood?
Those come without even mentioning don't they?? Of course I'd love to hit those places up; dunno if I'll ever be able to afford to though!
Who’s your favourite rider (both renowned and unknown)?
Favourite unknown rider (although more people are becoming aware of him) has got to be Freddy Pulman, He has bare skills, its just in his genes, he is rad. And he is still at the age where he can take some hefty crashes and just bounce up.
Favourite famous rider would have to be Yannick Graneri at the moment. The style & shapes he manages to throw on his bike is just too rad. I want 360 can-cans like his!
360 crankflip (when I land them sweet.)
What was the last edit you watched that made you think ‘wow’?
It was only a trailer as the vid isn’t out yet but when it’s released “From the Inside out” looks like its going to be one of the best biking videos ever!
When did you learn heel clickers?
I suppose I must have been 15 or 16 when I learnt heelclickers, back in the days of jumping on my full suspension bike with SPDs.
So you’ve finally got your twists dialled. You’ve had some trouble with them over the years haven’t you?
Yeah 3’s are a hard trick, they’re a lot to do with having them mentally dialed and hitting them 100% confident as much as technique. Its this last year that the fear has subsided and I’ve manged to get my head round them.
Anything on your mind that you want to learn?
Still working on tailwhips slowly, but would quite like to get a couple more 360 variations dialed by next year.
Well I wouldn't mind doing flips but think I would hurt myself too bad learning them! Every time I've tried them into foam I've never got further than half the way round! :-(
K Hole, shot by Jonathan Williams
“Trails are cool, end of. It’s just the rest of the world hasn’t discovered how cool it is to be chilling at the trails on a nice summers day, bbq on the go, maybe a bottle of cider, generally having great times with mates.”
Not many people can crank clicked tables both ways... Got any tips?
Practice practice & more practice. It's all about really relaxing and being comfortable putting the bike into the right shape and bring it out again. You got to twist your hips, unless you drop a foot and bend your legs as much as possible.
Tables or heel clickers?
Tables any day of the week.
What motivates you to ride?
There’s a number of things really, the main one really being just the feeling you get flying through the air or flying down a DH run flat out; I love it! Its so amazing feeling at one with the bike & using the machine to do stuff you couldn’t do just on your feet.
To a degree sponsors motivate me to ride; as part of what I give back to the companies I need to be out as much as possible representing their kit & showing people why they should buy it. This is a dodgy one as at comps you can really stress yourself out thinking about needing to do well & get the top positions. So my third reason… Is just to have fun. Its amazing the people I’ve met and the times I’ve had on my bike. Life would have been so much worse if I had been into rugby!! And the having fun bit also needs to be your main thought at comps and it can usually over-ride the worry from trying to do your sponsors proud.
Best and worst riding related memory?
Best biking memory would probably the time we did nass, I came 2nd in the Saturday comp, we then we went straight on a roadtrip for a few days and were riding Wisley when none other that Corey Nastazio, Ryan Guetler & load of other BMXers turned up. It was unbelievable watching them shred Wisley!
Worst memory – although one of the funniest – is probably getting pulled by the police whilst I was a passenger in Ricky Cromptons old Volvo, at Filthy 48 in Southport doing doughnuts round the field by the road. Needless to say we were both quite merry. I was shitting it as the 5/0 were being quite nasty about it all. Lol We just couldn’t believe it when the headlights and blue flashing lights appeared right behind us on this field!
What has been your worst injury?
Worse injury would be a toss up between the broken foot from an over rotated 360 back in the day or the fucked thumb ligaments that needed an operation on after bailing a 360 third run in practice at nass a few years back.
Does the teaching career choice have anything to do with holiday time to ride in?
Well it certainly helps!! I suppose the holidays were brought into consideration when I decided to try my hand at teaching and they are a bit of a bonus, but you do have the issue that when you have a week off no other bugger does! So I end up just going to skate parks for solo sessions.
Do you get most of your inspiration from BMX or MTB?
This could be controversial but I’m gonna have to say BMX. BMX has obviously been about longer, progressed further and has a more people with different styles within it. MTB can influence your style but in essence the MTB style is a mixture of BMX and MX with its own twist, which can look good when done right, but can look awful.
K Hole, shot by Jonathan Williams
What do you prefer to watch?
It's hard to say which one I prefer, and I suppose if I had to make the choice then it’d be MTB but they’re both just as important to understand and take influence from.
As a MTB’er who rides trails and the occasional skatepark, do you get much agro from BMX riders? If you do how do you respond to it?
Generally I don’t have too much of a problem. I try not to piss the BMXers off or get in the way, talk to them if they look civil or just let them be moody emo grotbags who don’t speak to anyone if they look like the type. Locally the BMX and MTB scenes are really quite friendly to each other.
The locals at Decoy have a bad rep among mountainbikers. Have you ever ridden there? If you have, did you receive any hassle?
I’ve ridden there years ago and got the odd dirty look or comment from one of Kye and Leo’s greebo followers but I haven’t been on the hard end of it like Dylan was when he had rocks thrown at him mid-air!
Why don’t you ride a BMX?
Because they’re too small, twitchy and for kids! Lol I ride a mans bike. Hahah. Nah but seriously I prefer the more stable bigger bike.
Have you ever given 20” a go or considered making the conversion to small wheels?
I’ve always ridden other peoples BMXs thru the trails and had a few shitty old BMXs as a kid; I kinda like riding them but never done it long enough to get over the twitchyness. And of course every winter I toy with the idea of getting one for park or to learn tailwhips on but it hasn’t yet happened.
Will trails ever be cool?
Trails are cool, end of. It’s just the rest of the world hasn’t discovered how cool it is to be chilling at the trails on a nice summers day, bbq on the go, maybe a bottle of cider, generally having great times with mates.
How do you visualise the dirt scene in ten years?
Hmm, hopefully still here. God knows what tricks are gonna be being pulled then tho. 10 years ago I wouldn’t have expected frontflip Indian airs or cliffhanger backflips!
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A mate of mine once got told by Rob Warner “If your not crashing, you’re not pushing it hard enough.”
What are your interests outside of riding?
DJing and writing DnB, Dubstep and other varieties of electronic music; that keeps me pretty busy. And of course I enjoy general socializing down the pub, club or where ever I get to.
How old do you think you’ll be until you’ll stop going sideways?
I hope not for many years yet. It will probably be when my body can’t actually take it any more!
Tell me a joke!
What do you call a girl with two dicks? N-dubz
Haha Any last words?
Thanks for having me along to do this interview, thanks to all my fans (lol) thanks to my girlfriend; scratch that I haven’t got one of them at the mo (aww any girls reading send your date requests in to getabmx.blogspot.com) thanks to mum dad lol.
But seriously massive thanks to Steve Weir at Flow bikes, Tony at Independent100, Sy Folland at NookieBikes, Ben and Jay at The Bike Shop in Tiverton and all the K-Hole crew.
Hopefully catch you all at a round of Dirt Wars next year.