From just ‘giving it a go’ to Enduro World Series Masters Champion in one season, Dave caught up with Hope Technology’s Woody Hole to find out more…
ST: So we’ve heard rumours you were just going to give it a try this year?
WH: Well that’s how it started off yeah. It was Rachael (Walker), she said ‘come with Sharpie and do the first one in Ireland’ and that’s how it started really. I think seeing as Ireland was so good, well as it was so good and seeing as I won; it was such a good race and such good craic, it was a no brainer to do the next one. I was only originally entered in the duffer class, and the organisers rang and said I should be in E1, so it got changed through.
I think because of how that event went, we had the crowd of the Flans, Sammy Sharp, and Mark Scott; it was just a hell of a weekend. I thought hell if this is what enduro racing is sod it I’ll do more. Obviously if I’d been twentieth I may not of carried on, but I thought I may as well keep doing them while I was doing well. So Rachael said we should do them, and Sharpie wanted a playing partner.
ST: So it’s turned into a bit of a busy year for you with EWS and the likes of Enduro2
WH: Yeah well up into Ireland I’d only done two or three enduro races; Kinlochleven and a couple of PMBA’s and that’s all I’d ever done before Ireland. It was my son that got me into Enduro2, he found the event and he said ‘we should go and do that’ so he’s to blame for it. With him wanting to ride, it keeps me wanting to ride too. It is hard to fit everything in though.
ST: It must be hard to balance racing and a full time job
WH: It is, but I’m very lucky in the fact that I work in the industry and that Ian and Simon, I may sound a bit biased here, they’re the two best bosses you could ever have. I think when we came out here, I was going to fly back to work after Spain, but they were like stay out and focus on the racing, but it’s a hard thing to juggle.
I have a quite important role back at work, and I hate when I’m away because I end up with more stuff to sort out when I get back. It’s been so nice to do the season and be consistant, there’s a lot of the lads I’m up against who are fast but not as consistant as I have been. It’s not as though I won Ireland and had a few flukey results, my worst was Spain last week, I didn’t feel too good there after a week at Interbike. I’m over the moon, second today behind Bruno Zanchi, jesus you know he’s fast…
ST: It’s not a particularly easy category you’re in, there’s some fast riders in there
WH: No. There’s a big gap, but the top ten they’re on it, and when you look at the times, the winning master’s times, for a 40+ class it’s very competitive. As my wife has said, you know, I’m at the high end of 40+ as a 48 year old and to think I hardly did any riding until last February when I had my hip replaced and it gave me a new lease of life. I couldn’t have got up to the top of the first stage today (stage 5) two years ago. So to have that, there’s not many people my age, who’ve had body parts replaced, that are world champions. I keep playing it down, saying that I’m only an old gits champion, but it’s been a nice few months really.
ST: We featured your bike the other day, are you happy with that set up then?
WH: We’re lucky at Hope that bike wise we have everything to choose from, we can have whatever we want. We don’t have many of them at work, I wanted something different; you know we have a lot of Santa Cruz, brilliant bikes but I like to be a little bit different you know? I can’t fault the bike.
ST: So has racing enduro been an important part of testing product?
WH: I think so, I think that’s where we are at. I mean you’ve got the XC side and the DH side, but when you look at an enduro bike and what there is to bolt onto it, we always try and think ‘that’s a nice little enduro product’ and then give it a go. I think testing wise, and replicating real world conditions, well look at racing in Whistler for two weeks, you can’t replicate that amount of riding anywhere; it’s rough, it’s gnarly, it’s a great testbed. As a discipline I know there’s some criticism and sneering, but I think it’s great.
ST: Is that criticism because enduro is a victim of it’s own success?
WH: Yeah, the way it’s come so quick. There’s so many events that are different though, this one you ride in categories and there’s seeding, but then you’ve got UK event’s like Kev’s PMBA; ten of you can turn up and ride around with your mates and you’re getting timed on the downhill. I think that’s great, it don’t get no better, I really do think it’s a great format. I said this to Chris Ball; there’s some niggling but it only needs a bit of fine tuning and it’s perfect, it isn’t far off it now.
ST: So the last big question is that now you’re reigning champion will you be defending your title next year?
WH: (Laughs) I’ll let you ask Alan, Ian and Simon that one shall I? Oh and my wife. I’d like to do some, it’s a shame the first two are in South America but I may have to tick that box and get them done. I’ve spoken with Chris Ball about the possibility of 5 rounds counting to the overall, at the moment you have to be a retired millionaire or work in the industry, and I’m lucky I’m in the industry, to do it. I think if you had five, there’s four in America and four in Europe, you’ve only got to make one big trip away to do it, and I think that’d work even if it was just under 21’s and Masters it might make it that little bit more accessible and get a few more people thinking ‘I could do that’. I’d love to do it again, as long as the body holds out over the winter period that’d be good.