March 9/05 10:17 am - Interview with Brian Lopes
Posted by Editoress on 03/9/05
Brain Lopes was at the Toronto International Bike show promoting his new book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills in the booth of the publisher Human Kinetics. Lopes was also having a bit of fun competing in the MountainCross Championships.
CC caught up with him in between autograph signings and race schedules.
Canadian Cyclist: Is this your first time in Toronto?
Brian Lopes: Yup, first time in Toronto.
CC: Enjoying it?
BL: Yeah, so far it has been good. (I'm) just in this building, so I am not really seeing much. Yeah, having a fun time riding the track and it seems like a good turn out, so it's a good time.
CC: You have had a hard couple of years, mainly with injuries. The reason for the book, did it come out of the time you were injured?
BL: No not really. I had been thinking about doing a video and my friend Lee that I co-authored with, had been thinking about writing an instructional book so we just kind of joined together and started it. It was about a year and a half ago when we originally talked about it and started to do it. It wasn't really because of the down time. Everything we did together. We did a lot of talking on a couple road trips and spent a week out at Taos. Everything we did was while I was able to ride my bike.
CC: So with a book out and with 15 championships over your career, are you starting to wind down a bit?
BL: I don't know. The year and a half I had off racing in the past couple years, has given me enough of a break where I am psyched to keep racing. I mean I love racing, it is what I have done my whole life. There are times when I get a bit bummed out on it, but it is only because of the courses. When I show up after travelling across the world or travel across America to race a national race and you get somewhere and it is a real bad course.. I get bummed out and I really don't want to race those type of races. But when I travel somewhere like last year in Italy for the World Cup final, I got there and I was just so excited to just get on my bike and ride. It was fun. You show up to a good riding spot, whether it is racing or just riding, it's fun. If you show up to a bad riding spot, you pack your bags and you leave, you don't waste your time. That is what racing is like for me these days. I have raced so many years and so many crappy courses, I am over that.
CC: So it is 2005. Are you going to continue with the World Cups and Norbas? Or are you picking and selecting where you will race?
BL: I am picking and selecting to a certain degree, but I would also like to do the full World Cup season. The World Cup has a couple new spots this year which are exciting for me just to go.
CC: Like Brazil?
BL: Oh yes. They (UCI) have hired a guy named Phil from England who built quite a few of the courses last year and he will build all the courses again for `05. That alone shows me the commitment from the UCI to hire somebody to build good courses. So I know that the courses should be half way decent. It (also) depends on what Phil's has to work with, of course, but he puts a lot into the courses, so that's exciting.
From the Norba standpoint, yah, I will pick and choose. I (will) try to go to the more popular races, but with there being very minimal coverage at the mountain bike races: TV, print, and there being no prize money.. and now with the US having a 1 day National championship... it makes it easier for me to blow those races off and do something that I'd rather do.
CC: Are you adding anything new to your repertoire? Are you coaching? Course building or consulting?
BL: I actually just taught a clinic a few weeks ago up in northern California up at Sandhill ranch. Joe Lawill and Lee McCormick (co-author of the book) were up there with me. It was for a private mountain bike team, maybe 10 or 15 kids, it was pretty fine. It is something I definitely like doing, I love sharing the knowledge I have to help kids get faster. But it is something I have to have the time to concentrate on in the off season. As the season gets closer, you gotta prepare. The older I get, the more I feel like I need to prepare. Doing clinics is something I do sometimes. As for giving my input on courses.. I am a pretty vocal person out there on the race circuit, I am not kissing anyone's ass. If it my friends building the course, or somebody I don't know.. if I like it I tell them, and if I don't I tell them too.
As far as designing courses? No. It takes a lot of time to build a good course. That is what sometimes bums me out. Some of these guys think they can just come in a couple days before a national and build a course and it's going to be good......! It takes more than that and I know that.
CC: What is next for you?
BL: I am doing an adventure with Hans Rey and April Lawyer. We are going to Mexico and Hans has picked a place called Copper Canyon. It is (I think) broken up into 3 sections that are altogether bigger than the Grand Canyon. It is over a thousand feet deeper than the Grand Canyon in sections, there are a lot of indigenous people that live in caves in the canyon.
CC: Are you there to make a movie or just experience the ride?
BL: Both. We are going to make a movie. Hans has this sort of adventure outlook on these things, he likes to go to places in "search" of something. He likes to bring the culture of that area and mountain biking together.
It will be filmed, it will be in print. We have photographers, and high definition camera guys coming. It will be fun. I have done one other small adventure with Hans before. He has tried to get me on some of these longer ones, and I have just been too busy, but this one is going to work out. I am pretty excited to do it with him. It is the first time Hans is going to bring a girl along, on an adventure and April should be a good addition.
CC: You are still with GT. Is it a long term or short term contract?
BL: I am with GT through the end of `05. GT Oakley, Bell, Shimano, Easton, Fox, Sunn, Maxxis, ODI.. all those guys, all my contracts end at the end of this year. I do that!. Most of the contracts I do are 2 years. I like to see where I am at, see how I feel and decide what I want to do from there. I'm good for this year and hopefully stay with all those guys. I have been with all of those companies for a long time now. I have a real good relationship, with all of them besides from just going out a racing. Shimano, GT and Oakley are all within a 10 minute drive from my house, so I have even that much better of a relationship with those guys. ODI, Fox and Bell are all also close, so I see them often.
CC: So do you do some R&D
BL: I try to be involved with them (sponsors) as much as I can. Whatever they want me for really. Give my input on everything. Bell just sent me their new motocross helmet, and I did some downhill runs with that. I call them up a week later and give them some feedback. I work real close with Oakley, especially with their new SPD shoe that came out last year, we worked on that for a couple of years. I had a lot of input on that. I've had a lot of input on their mountain bike clothing. GT also, I am down at GT probably twice a week. Their engineer there along with the designer are always working on something new, so I am trying it out, I'm telling them what I think of the angles, what I think of how the suspension feels, all that kind of stuff.
I think at every company there are great designers, people who come up with great ideas and they can show you something on a computer, but when they actually build it, and the pro rides it, it doesn't always equal out. We have to find a happy medium sometimes and I like to be able to help them do that.
CC: So you are completely healthy? No left overs from the leg break?
BL: There is a little bit of left over. I don't think my leg will ever be 100% like it was.
It is kind of strange, because it does not hurt where I broke my leg it doesn;t hurt at all. I have a rod now in my leg. They went in right below my knee-cap and I have a bit of pain in my knee, but I don't think it slows me down when I ride my bike. When I ride my bike, I don't feel it at all. But after a days worth of racing, or certain things, I can feel it. More so when I walk. It is kind of funny, `cause any Pro racer who has been doing it as long as I have is going to have injuries that linger. I have been pretty fortunate, after all the injuries, none of them have really stopped me from riding my bike, or performing to the level I like to. Some of them just take a bit longer to get back to where you where.