AS: What do you think about racing the same tracks, year after year?
AG: Yeah, I think in some ways it’s cool to have some stops consistent, but it would definitely be nice to have a bigger variety of tracks. Even some of the ones that are there every year, the tracks aren’t changing much. It would be nice for them to change it up a little bit more. They’ve actually done that a little bit this year, which has been great and in the next couple of years we’ll have some new races on the circuit too, so I think they’ve taken the feedback from the riders well and other people who’ve made suggestions over the past couple of years and they’re making the changes now. I’m pretty stoked to race new venues next year and the following year it sounds like even more.
AS: How do you win so much?
AG: Haha I can’t tell you that, it’s a secret! No, it’s just hard work, man. Lots of time, and I’ve been racing bikes and motocross pretty much my whole life. The biggest thing is just a lot of hard work and years of experience. Everything has just come together well, but I can’t tell you the specifics– secrets [winks]. When I retire I’ll tell you, haha.
AS: How long did it take you to become really competitive when you started racing mountain bikes?
AG: It started off pretty strong the first year. I got 10th in my first World Cup in Mont Sainte Anne, but I knew that I needed another year or two to get my fitness and skills in certain terrains up to where I needed to win races. Those guys were kind of on another level that were on top at the time and I wasn’t fit enough to ride 100% top to bottom and even if I could I knew my speed was a little off. I believed that I could find it, and I could get the fitness and everything I needed. By probably the third year, I felt like I was ready to start challenging for wins. I had a couple of races where I believed I could have won, especially here at Val Di Sole at the end of 2010 when I crashed.
By the time 2011 started I kind of had my whole training program dialed. I was mentally in a good spot and I had enough experience to know what to expect. I had enough years of training that my base was pretty strong and then I hired John Tomac as my trainer to get me ready for the season. Everything felt very good. I had a great bike with Trek and the team with Martin and everyone, so all the pieces were coming together and my maturity as a racer all lined up at the same time, so yeah I felt good coming into 2011, which wasn’t all that long after I started racing DH.
AS: So on a scale of 0% to 100%, how much do you think it’s about technique– mental, or physical?
AG: I don’t know, that’s a tough question. Maybe it depends on certain riders a little bit haha. I’m not sure man, it would be really hard to break that down percentage wise. I never really think about the mental side because I just kind of have it. When it’s time to race I just always get focused and race, the pressure and the different stuff doesn’t usually effect my performances. I can usually just focus and get it done. So I always focus on my preparation, which naturally gives me a lot of mental confidence too because I know that my skills are really good and I know how hard I train. When you show up to a race and you know you’ve done everything that you can to succeed, with what’s reasonable, you can be content with your effort regardless of the result. You might not be happy with the result but if you’re happy with the effort you’ve put in then you just learn from it, and you just keep improving and move on. So yeah, I’d have a hard time breaking it down. Percentage wise I’m not sure.