INTERVIEW: VITUS FIRST TRACKS FOUNDER, GLYN O’BRIEN
A name synonymous with the domestic mountain biking scene in the UK and Ireland, Vitus First Tracks have the sport racing through their veins. The roster tackle rounds of the EWS and make an assault on all the gravity racing they can get their hands on, but away from that, they live and breathe bikes and want to inspire others to do the same.
What better way to kick off our interviews with these guys than to have seasoned rider and founder of the team, Glyn O’Brien? Get an insight into thoughts and opinions of a legend of the sport and be sure to tune in to the Instagram takeover from Glyn and the gang on Saturday 27th to see them tearing up the local trails.
What’s your favourite cycling memory?
It has to be Redbull Rampage back in the day. What a sick event that just gets better every year. I love its core ethos were riders get creative and build their own lines. The atmosphere is crazy and the crowd goes ballistic for all the riders. I went there with no expectations and really just enjoyed digging and pushing myself. To go home in one piece with 3rd is something I’ll never forget.
As a kid, who was your cycling icon?
Not sure if this sounds weird but I didn’t really have any. I was just stoked to ride and build jumps. More recently it’s people like Travis Pastrana, Steve Peat, and some of my friends that have achieved so much from raw, natural talent and the love of a bit of hard graft that gets my respect.
When out on your bike, what’re your three essentials?
I never go anywhere without my phone to snap that Insta moment. I love looking back over the memories and hope some of the images inspire people to get out and ride. It sucks being caught out on the trail with a mechanical so I always check over my bike before heading out and bring a stealthy multi-tool and puncture set up just in case. Most importantly a good attitude, just be stoked and ready for anything. The weather changes and nothing stays the same so adapt and overcome.
It would be hard to pick anywhere other than Whistler in Canada. I have been there lots and you could never get bored of that place. The diversity of trails and different styles of riding would blow you away. Even when you’re not riding it’s such a cool place to hang out. I would also like to try Nepal sometime to check out the big mountains.
What is your favourite local trail and why?
I feel really lucky to live so close to the Mournes in N. Ireland. There’s so much on our doorstep I can literally ride from home or a short drive to get to so many trails. If I had to pick one it would be Bigwood. It’s a small forest with tonnes of trails that are super fun. I have been riding there for over 25 years and never had a bad day.
What do you think the future holds for cycling – where do you think it’s going – how do you see it developing?
Cycling, in general, is getting very popular and with the current COVID-19 situation even more, people are getting into it. I think we will be seeing more trail centers being introduced or expanded. There will be more greenways restored and cycle paths put in place. Local councils will see that pump tracks can be a safe environment for kids to play on so hopefully every town and village has one soon.E-bikes will also be a massive part of our future. Like them or not they are here to stay. The stigma however is dissolving as more people try them and realise the benefits, never mind the craic you have.
I was in Brixen, Austria quite recently and how that area is set up for e-bikes was crazy. Charging stations and cycling maps everywhere encouraging people to ride. N. Ireland take note! As for competitive racing Downhill will continue to be the Formula 1 of cycling driving the initiatives followed closely by Enduro. Racing will naturally get more competitive with margins getting tighter all the time. With social media being a massive part of our culture now we will see continuing growth in media riders with crazier videos and stunts to blow our minds and keep us entertained. The industry never ceases to amaze me with the speed it develops at, just when you think what can happen next, 10 things happen! I love it!
Who got you into cycling?
I have been riding and racing bikes since I was four. My parents got me into BMX and that’s what all our family has done. It seemed normal as most of my friends done the same. We built jumps and messed about on bikes, not much has changed.
What Vitus bikes do you currently ride?
All of them! I enjoy all bikes but my go-to is a Sommet CRX. Gravity riding and racing is where I’m at. Recently I have been riding my Rapide quite a lot, just been keeping things a bit more mellow during lockdown and working on the leg strength. My E-Sommet gets it’s a fair share of action though, depends on the mood and who I’m riding with.
What’s your go-to music for riding / who’s on your riding playlist?
I don’t listen to music when I’m riding. At home or on the way for a sesh I like rocking out to a bit of Rammstein or Iron Maiden. I would be quite happy listening to any numbers from the ’80s at the same time.
What’s your go-to post-ride meal?
Normally I flick the kettle on for a good cuppa ‘tae’ when I get back in. As for food, anything goes, just set it in front of me. I’m generally quite healthy but I could demolish a good chicken burger in seconds.
Any tips for riders just getting into cycling?
Just relax, enjoy the ride and remember why you got into cycling in the first place. Everything will come with time and practice if you want it to. For MTB a good hardtail is all you need to get going, it’s amazing what they can do if you just let it. Ride with friends or people of a similar level and learn from the faster more experienced riders. Be stoked to ride!