Pro Diaries: Greg Minnaar – Downhill Mountain Bike World Champion

We caught up with this year’s runner up and former UCI World Champion Downhill Mountain Biker – Greg Minnaar to see what he’s been up to this season, his journey so far and what a typical week is like for a Downhill Mountain Bike Champion!

Name: Greg Minnaar
Occupation: Downhill Mountain Bike Rider
Hometown: Pietemaritzburg, South Africa
Team: Santa Cruz Syndicate
Honours: 3x World Champion & Norba Champion

Hi Greg, thanks for talking to us today. Firstly, congratulations on finishing the 2011 season on the podium! How did this race season compare to previous years?

You know, I’m happy with finishing 2nd in the World Cup, but it wasn’t really an exciting season for me. I felt I rode in ‘no man’s land’, I wasn’t able to catch Aaron Gwin and Gee Atherton was quite a bit behind me, so I felt like I was racing myself. Even though I lost the overall title to Gee last season, I had way more fun then as it was a much closer contest.

What do World Cup races usually consist of? Is it all work, or do you get time to yourself?

Yeah for sure, it obviously really depends where we are travelling to and from. Walking the track normally takes place on the Thursday, so we try to get into the nearest town on the Tuesday or Wednesday. We usually get to hang out for a day or so before the actual race.

You have travelled all over the world with your bike racing and filming. Where has been the most memorable location you have visited?

Every location is memorable for different reasons. Mount St Anne, Canada, has great Go-Karting tracks and waterfalls to jump off when we aren’t racing… Leogang, Austria, has Tata’s Hat, Fort William in Scotland has Ginger’s and great Fish & Chips… and Brazil has the best parties & beaches! I try to enjoy every location for what it has to offer.

What is your favourite location in the UK to ride and why?

Well, Wisley in Surrey is great for Dirt Jumping – My buddy Bredon took me down there a few years ago and it was just amazing! Wharncliff near Sheffield is great for Cross Country and the 7stanes trails in Ae Forest for Downhill Riding.

How did you first get started in Mountain Biking?

My parents bought a bike shop in South Africa when I was 12. I was more into motorbikes but I slowly made the conversion from Motorcorss to Mountain bikes and raced my first few World Cups in 1999.

What tips would you give to people looking to get started in Mountain Biking and racing?

Look ahead and have a good time on your bike, Mountain Biking is supposed to be fun!

Have you ever competed in any other style of riding? Would you ever have a go at Slopestyle or Dirt Jumping?

Yeah I’ve done a little; I don’t really like it as a competition though as judges determine your results instead of just being the best. Downhill races are purely pushing yourself to get the fastest time of the day, and if you do – you win!

Crashing comes with the territory, have you ever had to miss a race or season because of an injury?

For sure, I had a dislocated shoulder that caused me to miss a couple of races back in 2007. I haven’t missed a whole season, but I have had to go on holiday early once before.

How do you know when you are riding on the edge of your ability? What does it feel like to be constantly pushing what is possible on a Mountain Bike?

When you are moments away from crashing but you somehow manage to get away with it. It’s an amazing feeling, better than any drug on the market.

What does the rest of 2011 and 2012 hold for you, any big events to watch out for?

There will be a few surprises…

What is your current bike set up?

Santa Cruz V-10.4 Carbon, kitted out with gear from all of my sponsors; Santa Cruz Syndicate, Sram, Rockshox, Avid, TRuvativ, Enve Composites, Maxxis, Clif Bar, Muc-off, Lizard Skins, WTB, Gore Ride-On, Chris King, Birzman, Oakley, Kabuto, Gamut, 5Ten, Alpinestars & Skullcandy.

Taking the podium at Fort William, Scotland

Thanks for talking to us today Greg – good luck in next year’s World Cup!

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