#4XWednesdays | The Big Euan Rossi Interview.

Euan Rossi is a man on a mission. After organising track days on a BMX track in Cumbernauld, #4XWednesdays has grown arms and legs.

Euan Rossi is a busy man. While not a practicing orthopaedic surgery, he’s the man behind #4XWednesdays, now a charity that started as a way to practice gate starts for the 4X Protour and has grown from there.

Photos courtesy of Descent World.

The man himself, Euan Rossi, chats with ‘Sketchy’ Lachlan Blair. 

Who is Euan Rossi?

I’m a 27 year old, 6ft 6 ginger 4X racer from Glasgow. I do orthopaedic surgery and graduated from medical school in 2013.

What was your first mountain bike?

I used to steal my older brother’s Dawes Ti rigid for laps around Pollock Park before I snapped it. I got a 2005 Saracen Havoc to replace it and the obsession began.

What’s your background in cycling?

It’s far from a well established one. I actually got pulled into MTB through the Scouts at 16. My leader Andy took us to the new trails in Pollock Park with the mechanic from our local bike shop and I was hooked.

I spent the next few years ragging around the park with my local mates pretending I was Steve Peat, eating up media like Roam, Seasons and Follow Me. I finally bit the bullet and got a downhill bike, doing 2 and a bit SDA seasons before a big crash at Fort William nearly lost me the use of my right thumb and my surgical career.

A broken wrist at the first race of the following season in Dunkeld spelled the end of my DH racing. I quit racing entirely for a couple of years. I was always a big fan of 4X and having watched the Pro Tour at Fort William, I set a goal of racing it the following year. The 4X family were so welcoming and I now race every chance I get. It’s led to me racing a full Pro Tour and National calendar and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now.

What’s your background in the cycling industry?

I worked for Freeflow Bikes as a teaboy turned mechanic/salesperson for two years. It was a great wee shop full of high end DH stuff and was the place to go. Have to say a big thanks at this point to Steven Morris and Nick Shaw for looking after me and teaching me so much. It’s through this job I got to know so many of the great folk that work in the industry and has really helped me advance in racing and the #4XWEDNESDAYS side of things.

How did 4X Wednesdays come about?

It was a bit of a funny one actually. It started as a gate practice night as I would be there sorting gates for race season and grew each week into an organised thing. We had 30 people plus coming along on trail bikes asking tips on bike handling, fitness, where they could buy hardtails… You name it.

They started picking up skills like manuals through whoops, gating, hops between rollers and feeding back to me that it helps them hugely on the trails. I also think it struck a chord with folk as it was an open, friendly and welcoming community.

Once we had that core group and the media attention grew, I decided that instead of commercialising it we should try and give back to the sport and raise money to support young kids getting into biking. We’ve run some huge events now and it just keeps getting bigger.

Why did you decide to run the nights at Broadwood BMX track?

It’s a great public facility. Especially over winter it runs all year (unless it’s been very snowy). It’s floodlit, has features that beginners and elite racers can enjoy, and training facilities to get folk up to speed in a controlled way.

Josh Hanlon, who races 4X with me now, and the track team there really put a lot into the place and it has a great energy about it. Some people have asked why Wednesday night, and really it’s a consistent night people can set aside to ride their bike after work midweek.

We all want to hit the trails on the weekend really so a floodlit evening at the BMX track makes a fair whack of sense to keep the legs turning midweek.

What’s the goal behind 4X Wednesdays?

There are a few motivations really. Glasgow where I grew up has some not too well-off areas. A third of kids there grow up below the poverty line and I’ve seen what clubs like Western Titans BMX do for kids in those kind of circumstances.

MTB has a huge financial barrier to it and I’d love to help bridge that gap in some way. I’m also not convinced social media recruits new people into our sport. It appeals to existing consumers but it rarely breaks out of the Facebook/Instagram algorithm that shows you what you already like in a safe little bubble.

With local bike shops dropping like flies and printed media not appearing on supermarket shelves now, I wonder if the public will even know if we exist. There have certainly been some new starts on a bike at #4XWEDNESDAYS and they come from a background that wouldn’t have been spoken to any other way.

We have people trying to get healthier so Wednesday nights are more enjoyable, with some coming up to Fort William to ride a mountain bike off road for the first time, ecstatic that they managed to roll down the 4X track. That makes me smile big time. 4X is also a great way for kids into the sport.

You can race it from age 10 and it is a cheap, skillset focussed way into riding bikes. All the greats like Aaron Gwin, Danny Hart grew up racing BMX. It teaches you how to find grip, handle the bike and there are no car park excuses. You get instant feedback on where you are at and looking flash in the latest fancy kit doesn’t really get you anywhere. That’s possibly why the industry finds it tough to get behind as a 600 quid hardtail will last you a few seasons with little to no input. But I digress.

We have started declaring as a charity (which is a tough process) and have massive plans to help young kids into racing and hopefully a better academic and sporting future.

Really, bikes have given me a lot, and I feel a strong obligation to give that back.

Any disasters?

Thankfully most things have fallen into place most of the time. I’d say most MTBers are easy going so if things aren’t as crisp as they could be we are given some slack. People appreciate this is done entirely voluntarily so the odd hiccup is to be expected.

Favourite moments?

Aw man, too many to count. We’ve had young girls come along and be so stoked on riding bikes they have gone on to regional BMX team selection. Inspired a few folk to try 4X racing and love it. I’ve seen women I’ve helped gate up at Fort William Pro Tour which was awesome.

Homecoming at Fort William had me grinning ear to ear. There must have been over 50 kids itching to ride and racing each other along the track. The whole experience has been life changing for me and I honestly love every second of it.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to start up something similar?

Come have a yarn and I’ll give you a hand! All you need is some enthusiasm and a Facebook account. We’ve rolled out to Decoy BMX club down south with great success. Natasha Bradley, first women ever to send the 40ft doubles at Slavik’s JBC 4X Revelations in Czech Republic, set that up and they now have funding to build their own 4X track locally.

We are a concept that has now been mimicked in Birmingham, Cornwall and we are soon rolling out into Europe!

What did you have to sacrifice to get to this stage?

I’m not sure I even want to think about that!

I won’t lie I’d probably be further forward in my career if I hadn’t been so keen on this but that’s how life goes. I love Tim Minchin and he sums this up perfectly.

“I advocate passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you… You never know where you might end up.

Just be aware that the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery. Which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye.”

Did you have day jobs that you had to give up?

Thankfully not. There is no way I could do this in a regular job. I am mostly academic as a PhD student just now and can do my work in my own time.

Where next for you?

Great question. As above I try not to think too far ahead now and keep myself open to ideas. I’ve been chatting with a few folk on the scene about medical input for DH racers so watch this space!

In terms of 4X, I can’t even count how many balls we have in the air at this point. There will be some big media drops in the next few weeks so keep your eyes peeled!

Anybody to thank at this point in the journey? Long suffering spouses/parents/friends?

No idea where to even begin on this one. The list is huge:

Kris Gemmell for all his help with Wednesday nights.

Josh Hanlon and the track team.

Tommy Wilko and the Descent World team for all their help getting us out there.

Mal and Sophie at Roost MTB Holidays.

The Fort William MTB World Cup Rare Management Team.

Stuart and the team from Spartan Protein.

Scott from Jack Brown Eyecare.

Mark Wilson and the Leslie Bike Shop team for their help over the past year.

Gill, Joe, Sam, Gee, Brownie and the rest of the Trek Factory Racing team.

Ben Cathro of Sick Skills for the coaching and prizes.

But most importantly everyone who has come along on Wednesday nights and helped create such a welcoming community.

Get yourself along to #4XWednesdays’ January Jam on the 24th for some good times and the chance to win some amazing prizes.

In the meantime, go join the #4XWednesdays Facebook group to keep up to date with jams and other goings on.

Follow Euan’s adventures on his athlete Facebook and Instagram pages.