Laurie Greenland: Back home with the rainbow stripes

Laurie Greenland is your 2015 junior UCI Downhill mountain bike World Champion.

Photos and videos by Jacob Gibbins / words by Jamie Edwards 

Jamie and Milky spent a day with Laurie Greenland at home on his local trails in Bristol at the end of the season of his life. It was a great chance to catch up, ride some local dirt, hear about his year and take stock as he heads into his first elite year.

Laurie Greenland Trek trail bike Leigh Woods Bristol for Wideopenmag interview

Laurie: What’s the craic then boys?
Wideopen: Good question! How’s your year been then?

Laurie: Oh man, it’s been proper good. Pretty much start to finish ideal year. I managed to take pretty much all of my mistakes and bad fortunes from last year and chuck them all into racing this year and it seemed to just go real smooth … apart from just one or two mechanicals. Pretty much, it ran amazingly the whole time.

What were the things you came out of 2014 thinking “I really need to fix this to go faster?”

Just learning to ride a World Cup track at that pace. No matter where your mind set is at, you’ve still got to learn to ride like that. That was something that took last year learning and I managed to get into play for the last two races of last year and I got 2nd at both of them. I managed to just keep on the podium at every race I did this year.

Laurie Greenland rides Leigh Woods Bristol

And how do go about making that improvement?

You’ve just got to really concentrate on where you’ve gone wrong and where you need to improve and just work on them over winter I think. And make sure you just ride loads and do loads of full runs throughout the winter, throughout the whole winter I was doing full runs the whole time. For me, it was just a good way of learning how to do a race run and link sections together. That’s one of the main things I learnt to do over winter. Just make sure you’re linking sections together and you don’t have to rely as much on the technical sections to get all your speed in.

Tell me about your team mate Brook MacDonald!

Tell you about Brook! He’s a legend man! We’ve had some good times this year, he’s a wild man. It’s been so good to have him to follow this year to follow, same with Greg (Williamson) and George (Brannigan), I’ve learnt so much this year from them this year, just riding behind them at World Cups. Brook just loves attacking into sections at mach10 faster than anyone else! It was an eye opener for sure being able to be in the A group practice and just follow him down some sections – places like Mont St Anne where I would be just right off his back wheel tapped out. It was pretty wild to watch!

Laurie Greenland Leigh Woods Bristol

When we first met you, you were too little to lift your own bike on to the uplift. Now, you’ve won World Champs. How does that feel to have done that?

Yeah, it feels amazing to be sat here now with the World Champs and World Cup overall on my back. Yeah, it’s proper crazy. It’s taken a few weeks after I got home to think about it properly. The day after World Champs I went straight to Chamonix and had a big party week with all my mates. I didn’t really think about it so much – I was in a big house full of your mates and I almost felt bad for not thinking about it as much as I should have! But then I got home and got into my daily routing and I just couldn’t stop grinning all day, I was proper stoked!

I always remember when you rode for Wideopen that you insisted that you never felt nervous or felt pressure, which I really liked. Has that changed? Is it more pressure now you’re racing at the top of the sport?

Yeah, I try not to let myself get too nervous!  If I’ve had fun riding my bike and had a good quali there’s not too much reason to be nervous or scared for racing. It’s just what I enjoy racing. I always try and get into that mode of how you feel when you cross the finish line at a race. You always think “ah! If I went straight back up now I’d be in the perfect mind set and I could just attack!”. I always try and get into that as much as I can before I set off so I’m just stoked to go. It’s pretty funny in the start hut, you see all the juniors getting themselves all psyched up… but I’m not too keen on doing that. I think I just ride like a weapon and get all sketchy. How I ride well is just to be chilled.

Laurie Greenland trail bike alpine stars

So what’s the plan for the winter then now the racing is all over?

The plan is to ride loads. Try and chuck on some weight. Maybe a trip somewhere? I need to figure out what the plan is for next year before I can fill the calendar. Yeah, for the minute, chuck on some weight to make me go a bit quicker and have a laugh with my mates. Skateboard and maybe a bit of surfing too! Off the bike I’m just gonna have a laugh with my mates. The past month I’ve just been skating all the time to do something else. I’m not good at doing nothing. When I’m not riding I need something to keep me in the loop!

Laurie Greenland Belmont Woods Bristol Dream Line

Talk to me about World Cups. What did you really enjoy?

I think this year, I probably enjoyed Lourdes and Mont St Anne the most. MSA was rad. All the trucks were late and our bikes were late and we missed half of practice but we were so amped up to get on the hill we all just hit it mach10 first run. We had so much fun in a big train with all the boys. We turned up late to practice and I managed to win timed training on my 3rd run down the hill. It was weird, I’ve never felt as good on my bike as there. It was just straight out of the gate, first run. I managed to take the win by quite a bit there – it was a great weekend.

“We turned up late to practice and I managed to win timed training on my 3rd run down the hill. It was weird, I’ve never felt as good on my bike as there.”

And this year is your 2nd and last Junior year. Where have you been placing in elite?

I think my highest placed elite race this year was 15th. I got that in Lenzerheide where I got my first World Cup win and then I think I got a 16th, 18th, 21st and qualified 9th in Lourdes. That was a highlight for me for sure.

And how did that first World Cup win feel? That must have been good?

Yeah. It was amazing. There was a good little journey going up to it. In Lourdes I qualied first but just went a bit too aggro in the final. It was my first race run of the year and I needed a bit of time to just get back into it. I got beaten there and got second. At Fort William, Martin Maes turned up and chucked it into me and absolutely smoked me. After that I was pretty keen to get some stuff dialled in. I had a mechanical at Leogang. After that I was just so hungry to get on it and win. We went back to our place in Chamonix and got loads of riding and training in and hit Lenzerheide feeling great. I had no issues and managed to take the win.

Laurie Greenland riding belmont woods bristol

And what’s on the cards for 2016?

I had a good year this year and I’m just looking to get to the end of the year with what I’ve got at the minute. I’m looking forward to 2016 and whatever comes of it!

Last one. What does it take to be a World Champion?

What does it take? I probably don’t know yet – I’m only a junior still. Just what it takes to be a good racer I think. Just not nerving yourself out and being clever with your lines. For me, having people like Brook and Greg and George on the team, that helped me out a lot this year. You need good mentors and a team to get behind you and lay the way out. If you’ve got good people behind you it’ll fall into place.

Thanks to Laurie for shooting with us and to the guys with shovels that made the excellent trails for us to ride in Bristol.

Good luck for 2016 Laurie!

Don’t miss the feature video that goes with this story! Check it out back at the top of the page.