When we started our "AMS interviews" series, we asked at our facebook page, who would you like us to interview, and some answered back Brian Lopes. Brian Lopes himself? the mtb legend?. Wow, that's going to be difficult, but we'll try.
After some months, I won't say it has been easy, because he's so busy and gets contacted vey often by media, brands and fans, but Brian has been very easy to approach and keen to help.
Well, let's stop speaking about ourselves, and let's talk with Brian. Take a beer, sit down, and enjoy the in-depth interview. Here we go.
AllMountainStyle.com: Hi Brian, you don't need an introduction for the readers, but, tell us a little bit about you and your "Biking Life"
Brian Lopes: Well, I've been racing bikes since 1975 when I was just 4 1/2 years old, I have been married for 13 years and just had our first child. His name is Maverick and he just turned 4months old. I never dreamed of becoming a professional bike racer, it was just a natural progression of my desire to race that brought me to where I am today.
AMS: Tell us a little bit of your biking day now that you're only racing some well selected races around the world. How is the life of a pro semi-retired from racing?
BL: Yes, I am only racing selected races, but I have been doing this since I stopped racing 4x in 2007. Ever since then I have kept busy, sometimes even more busy when I was chasing World Cup titles, but I think a lot of people, you guys included, think that I'm semi retired from racing. I don't think this is the case at all. I just don't want to chase titles anymore, I want to have the freedom to do whatever events that I want to do. I'm constantly busy, whether that be doing a race, a photo shoot, attending a festival, trade show, alternative crossover sport function, training with Jessy Nelson and Cole Seely who race for the TLD motocross team, I'm constantly busy.
AMS: Which is the most amazing place you rode in? Any place you haven't been but would love to?
BL: I would have to say that BC Canada is the most amazing spot as there are so many trails which are great. I don't have any individual spot in mind to visit, but anywhere I have never been that has something fun to offer, I am game to check out.
AMS: Your book written with Lee McCormack, Mastering Mountain Bike Skills is the Holy Bible of any mountain biker that wants to improve. Which is, based on your experience, the most common mistake or bad habit of recreational bikers?
BL: Yes, Mastering Mountain Bike Skills is a great book that Lee and I collaborated on. It's amazing how many people tell me what the book has done for their riding. It's nice to feel that you are helping others improve, because we all love to get better at something and I'm happy to bring some joy to others. It's hard to pick one bad habit, there are so many. From using the front brake in turns, to going through turns with the inside pedal down, to not distributing their body weight. I can usually watch most people ride and pick out a few things rather quickly that they can fix.
AMS: We love the “Brake Less, Pump More” quote in the book and even added it on our jersey in order to see it while riding. If you had to pick only one, which is the change, technique, drill or habit that produces the bigger step ahead in terms of confidence, speed, and above all … joy of riding?
BL: That's cool you guys put that on your jerseys... I think it really depends on what level of riding you are at when picking one change, technique, drill, etc. to improve your riding. I think that is an individual response for each riders skill level.
AMS: Enduro is getting bigger and is the word of the moment, some even say it's real mountain biking. What is Enduro for you?
BL: I do think it is real mountain biking, but Enduro as a word is very general. I don't think it is a clear cut defined discipline. I know for me personally I never go for a ride with a full face helmet or wear a back protector and these are mandatory on the world enduro series. I also see a lot of chair lift and shuttling, which again is something I rarely do. For me personally I like to pedal for 2-3 hours, sometimes hammering up hills, sometimes flying down them. But I do also like to do some very steep technical trails which I would never want to race down. There are many trails which are fun to ride, but aren't necessarily trails I want to try and race full speed down.
AMS: How do you rate the first race of the Enduro World Series in Punta Ala you raced?. You seemed quite frustrated with some of the rules
BL: I think the courses were pretty good, but I was not so stoked on some of the rules.
AMS: Also regarding that, there's also a lot of talk about the possibility to extensively train Special Stages before the race. Some think Enduro should be raced blind, but for the first leg of the Enduro World championship, the tracks have been published 1 month before the race. Which is your point?
BL: I am all for getting a look at the courses, but not to the point where riders have enough time to know ever rock and root on the tracks. I think having enough time to get one or two runs, based on your fitness and how tired this would make you for the actual race is all we should get. I know some think NO practice and some want a lot of practice, but I think NO practice can be dangerous as you can possibly get in over your head on some real technical or dangerous sections, but unlimited practice makes it too much like a DH race, just longer.
AMS: Sorry but, yes, a question about wheel size. In your book with Lee McCormack you attack quite severely 29ers, but recently we have seen you even racing them. Which is for your the ideal wheel size and for which discipline? Are all of them here to stay or we are going to see some size dropping off the list?
BL: I did make fun of 29'ers in the book and I still make fun of them. Depending on the course and type of race you are doing, the 29'er is fast, but I don't think it is the best bike for everything, nor is it the bike I'd choose if I could just have one. I think 650b for me personally is a better fit for my size and the type of riding I like to do. But I will always have a 26" bike for jumping, pump tracks, etc. I think all 3 sizes will always be around, just now 26" is considered old school and everyone wants the latest, greatest.
AMS: Thank you Brian for sharing your precious time and knowledge with us. Welcome to the AMS family.
Remember that we'll keep interviewing interesting people on the sport we love: mountain biking. Send us your comments and who would you like to be interviewed by us at our facebook page