Andrei Burton is one of the UK’s most successful mountain bike trials athletes and has been competing at the top of his game for nearly 10 years.
As Saltrock’s new ambassador, we grabbed a rare quiet moment to talk to him about his favourite places to ride, appearing on ITVs Ninja Warrior and breaking world records…
What do you tell people you ‘do’ for a job when people ask?
Rather than trying to go into it, I just say I ride bikes! That’s the most important part of what I do, but obviously there is way more to it than that.
Why have you teamed up with Saltrock?
I have a long association with Saltrock. I got to know the guys around 2006 when they came to watch one of my shows. I love their clothing and I’ve raced for them in the past and we stayed in touch. We’ve decided to get together and come up with lots of exciting stuff for this year.
What do you wear when you’re riding?
I don’t like to look too serious or technical when I ride, so it’s just shorts, t shirt and helmet. I’m obsessed with a pair of red Saltrock shorts. They’re really stretchy and casual. Saltrock produce clothes I can comfortably train and move in, and if I want to go to the pub after a hard days training, I don’t need to change.
Why do you keep Exeter as your home?
It’s hard to find somewhere else as beautiful as Exeter. I’ve got Dartmoor on the doorstep for riding, the rocky terrain of the Devonshire coastline and I’m just off the M5 so I can drive to Bristol airport or get to London with relative ease. It’s a great place to be and I feel really supported here. The people are amazing. I have a great deal of support from Crossfit Exeter, The Quay Climbing Centre and Book-Cycle [UK-based volunteer-run charity], who have given me space in their warehouse where I train in the winter when it’s wet and windy. I haven’t found anywhere else I want to be, yet!
You appear in episode four of Ninja Warrior UK on ITV. Can you share any spoilers?
Well, I am not sure how much I can say really. Unfortunately I had tonsillitis and a chest infection, I was so ill and had a massive coughing fit just before my run, doesn’t sound like an athlete, but everyone gets run down from time to time. I really wasn’t feeling great, I was worried about a few of the obstacles, but probably most by the warped wall, I am a bike rider, not a free runner, I don’t run up walls and this was about 4 metres high with a big overhang. You don’t get to try anything first..
Where is your favourite place in the world to ride and why?
It has to be Bonehill on Dartmoor, but a close second would be Capetown. It’s such a cool place. You can be at the airport in 10 minutes from the city and everything from the surf, the wildlife to the rock climbing is amazing. Camps Bay is absolutely awesome. The riding is outstanding and you can finish the day with a drink at Caprice bar, overlooking the ocean
What is the powertrack (favourite song) you ride to? Or the one that always gets you energised?
Well, there are a couple. I guess Bulletproof by La Roux (or at least a remix) is one I always listen to. It reminds me of something positive.
What’s the best lesson that riding has taught you?
That there’s no such thing as luck. I’ve worked hard to get here. I stopped drinking for three years after my 18th birthday and sacrificed my social life. People say I’m lucky to be riding bikes all over the world but I don’t think it’s that simple. It’s a result of dedication and hard work. I didn’t just sit around and wait for sponsors and opportunities to fall in my lap. Anything is achievable, you just have to work for it.
If you could tell your teenage rider self just one thing, what would it be?
Don’t over-train. I used to get injuries a lot as I’d over-train but now I try to listen to my body. As a trials rider you have to be on the ball. You can’t be on a bike unless you can give it 100% so you have to be well and have concentration. I still don’t always get this right though!
When you think of your career to date, what makes you feel the most proud?
Just the fact that I’m one of the UK’s most successful mountain bike trials athletes and I’ve done it all on my own. I didn’t have the family input 99% of top sports athletes have, but I think I have been made stronger for it. Placing sixth in the UCI World Championships and fourth in the UCI European Championships in 2013, becoming the highest placed elite rider in both events, are some of the stand-out most proud moments. And being on the Podium in Japan taking 2nd in the BIU worlds, that was a good moment.
How many world records have you broken and what do you still want to break?
I’ve broken three. I want to do the best ones and if I can break 10 altogether, I’ll be happy. Next, I’m attempting a world record at Prudential Ride London on August 2nd. I can’t say too much about it yet, but it will involve cars and something that nobody has done before!