A word with: Laurie Greenland
MTB prodigy Laurie Greenland tells us about his life in lockdown, riding World Cups and the thrill of riding Red Bull Hardline.
How did you get into mountain biking?
I started off on BMX and I grew up just over the road from a skatepark. Then my dad ended up getting a mountain bike and it just fell into place from there.
My dad used to ride and race and he would always go to the Dragon Downhill Series. I wasn’t actually old enough to race but I’d practice, I’d sneak in and do a couple of the races. I grew up in that South Wales scene.
Did you always know you’d make it?
I’ve got a one-track mind in this respect. I remember seeing Steve Peat one time in Cwmcarn at a UK National. He won that race. And I just knew instantly I really wanted to aspire to be like that. It’s never really been a question of whether I can or can’t make it, it just seemed to be: what I was going to do in my head. So I had one goal.
Are we going to get any World Cups this year?
I wish I had some sort of insider knowledge on when the World Cups might take place this year, but I get the information pretty much when you guys do. That’s pretty frustrating because I need to know how hard to train, and when and where. You can’t train for four months at top peak like you would before the first world Cup, you would just drain yourself. So we’ve just resorted to quite a baseline setup and hopefully we’ll have a few weeks or longer to ramp things up.
It’s also a shame as some countries might come out of lockdown and be able to do recreational sport before others. I’d hate to be in a situation where, for example, the UK got four weeks downhill time and another country only got two – that’s just not fair. In a situation like this though I’m more than happy to take a back seat, friends family and loved ones are way more important than riding a bit of metal or carbon down a hill against the clock over some rocks and roots.
How are you dealing with lockdown?
It’s such a strange situation. You get a couple of months off at the end of the season, and remember that you have friends and family at home. But now we’re in a situation where summer is about to kick in and you’ve got that excitement to go racing so to backtrack on that is really hard.
At the same time it’s also quite nice – I don’t think I’ve ever had an opportunity in my life to really focus on myself and the people around me. Taking a fine tooth comb to everything in your life, it’s nice to have that time to work on the smaller detail. In the long run, some good might come out of this. Even just the road I live on, the air quality going out for runs has been really nice – things will be different. Anything that makes people really thankful for what they’ve got has to be a good thing.
What help have you had from Red Bull?
I’ve turned my living roof into a half gym, half living room setup. I am super lucky to have Red Bull setting me up with some gym stuff, I couldn’t find anything online by the time I came to look for it. But they pulled some strings to get me this dialled setup, it’s just one of the perks of working for Red Bull.
The ability to dream and have it become a reality, especially on the media side of things, is cool. Just having the resources to be able to do big and crazy projects seems to be the next step if you want to work yourself as a brand and work on your name, and the scope for anything is insane.
For me money wasn’t really anything to do with it, more all the things that come with the brand were what really appealed to me.
At the moment I’ve been coming up with some cool stuff. Being involved in this sport on a world level I don’t feel like a lot of people understand me as the full package Laurie. So I’ve been coming up with a project that shows every different side of my life, trying to make it pretty special.
Will you be doing more varied races then?
One even that’s always a guarantee to me is Red Bull Hardline. If you’re a downhill World Cup rider or a freerider or any type of extreme mountain bike athlete I can’t see why you wouldn’t want to go there. It’s so gnarly, and so much fun. When other time does anyone build something so crazy that you have a 70ft gap over a rock garden? You get to ride and actually have fun with a lot of your competitors. I’m always surprised there’s not many of us in the top 10 that go but as the years progress with that place I can only see it becoming a favourite place on the calendar.
Last year it was so gnarly, we had sideways rain, my full roll-off goggles – dropping in to a race like that, I said in the start gate if I hit the first three jumps clean then turn it right on. But I almost went right over the bars out of the start gate and backed it right off from there. You kind of have to feel how it goes form the drop in, it deserves a bit of respect.
Once you get through it all it’s not as bad as it seems. Jumps are never as bad as they seem, once you’ve done them. For me it’s always the steep, off camber rooty stuff that is always as bad as it seems. If you’ve landed a massive jump you can land it again.
I’d be pretty keen to do an enduro EWS at some point too. As I get more used to world cup racing and it becomes second nature I’ll branch out more but I’ll only start doing that once I feel like I can win and do something else. In the past few years it’s been so intense at world cups and that’s where all your focus goes.
E-bikes, good or bad?
It’s a whole different kettle of fish for me. Of all my bikes the Mondraker e-Crafty took the most setting up of all of them, because it’s so heavy and having that much weight to throw around takes some getting used to.
But for me it’s opened the door to a bit more fun. When you’re training really hard in the gym, every enduro ride you go on has some sort of interval, and a lot of the time once the training is done you just want to sit down. So I can ride the e-bike as a non-scheduled in ride, it’s an up-and-go machine I just use when I feel like having a bit of fun on the bike. I look at it as a thing to have a bit of fun on without much effort.