Saltrock Ambassador Andrei Burton tells us a bit about why he loves trials riding.
When did you start trials riding?
I started at around 13 years old.
Was there a progression from more standard cycling – were you a bike-obsessed kid?
I started by riding my bike to school and just as much as any other kid really, then when I found trials I just wanted to do it all the time.
Was there a moment that if the day had turned out differently you would never have been a trials rider?
Yeah for sure, I just happened to be in Exeter one day when a couple of riders were there. Without seeing and meeting those guys I never would have known about trials and got hooked. We ended up being really good friends for years.
What is it about trials that you love?
I love the challenge. Everywhere I go there is always a new challenge. whether it’s urban, natural or any environment, there is always something new. It's also as much a mental sport as physical. you have to think and calculate constantly and think about every little movement your body makes.
What’s the best thing about doing what you do?
The freedom it gives me. I can go anywhere and enjoy the area I am in. It’s taken me to places I never would have seen otherwise. I have met people from countries all over the world that I wouldn't have met without my sport.
Is there a worst thing?
Injuries! As I ride for a living, sometimes I have to ride when I am tired and this inevitably leads to injuries.
What’s your first trials memory?
I guess the first day I watched the guys ride in Exeter, I remember the guys jumping off a wall off a wall on their back wheels and thinking how it blew my mind.
Why do you think the sport affected you so strongly?
It was the first thing I had seen that I didn't understand. How do you get a bike to jump forward on the back wheel? And other kind of riding is straight forward, like with a ramp, you just point the bike forward and pedal, the rest is kind of natural. Trials is the opposite, you have to learn the physics!
Why are you so good at it? Is there something in your personality that makes you so successful?
I guess it’s my determination. I will spend ages on just one move getting it perfected. I’ve hit the same obstacle hundreds of times in one training session until I get the movement just right.
Do you have a stand out trials moment?
I guess there is a few, my first time on the world podium in Japan back in 2005 was a great moment! And the first time in the UCI world Cup in 2008 when I was ranked top 10 in the world in UCI so I didn't have to ride the qualification, I remember watching everyone ride the quarter finals and I didn't have to, was very strange!
Has there been a low point?
Many low points, but far more high points, and those are the things I remember.
Would you recommend other people get into your sport? Why?
Yes! Of course! It teaches you so many things! For normal, everyday riders of any type, you learn such good bike handling skills it will improve your control no end. It teaches you that practice makes perfect and how to enjoy a challenge and the process of getting to your goal. It is also very good for fitness and concentration. Most of all of course, it’s fun!
If someone has an ambition to ride trials, how would you recommend he or she gets started?
Get on your bike! Simple as that. The first thing is balance, find a white line of the floor and try to keep your tyres on it. stay as balanced as you can, try to ride as slow as you can until you can stay still and keep your tyres there.
What do you need to succeed?
Determination. Over anything else, its determination.
If you weren’t a trials rider is there another way you can imagine earning a living?
Ha, well I have many options, but I don't want to think about them as trials is what I really love!
If trials didn’t exist, is there another sport you would have concentrated on?
Climbing (and Ninja Warrior)! I love climbing almost as much as trials!
Have you had any serious injuries?
Many, but let’s focus on the good things!
Do you have any techniques for managing your fear?
Breathing, if you can control your breathing and your heart rate, then you can control your fear. Fear isn't real, danger is.
If you have kids will you encourage them to get into professional sports, specifically trials riding? Why?
Yes for sure, but I'd encourage them to do what they want to do, it’s their life, not mine. Of course I'd love them to do something like trials, climbing, surfing, something that would show them the best parts of the world.
Can you imagine ever quitting?
No, I can't. All I need is a sunny still day and I get crazy excited about getting outside. It's sunny outside now as I am writing this and I'm getting frustrated I'm not out there! I would hate to not have that passion in my life. I actually don't know what people do without passion?! I mean really, what do they do???
Is there anything else you can share with us about why you love your sport?
You know, people always assume that traveling the world and riding all the cool events is my favourite part of riding, but actually I live for the perfect day. I mean, I want one day a year when I go to Portland (Dorset) or Bone Hill (Dartmoor) and just have the most perfect ride. Where I feel in perfect control and at max power, where everything seems effortless and my bike is just and extension of my body. This is a feeling that can't be bought or taught, this is something only hard work and the right state of mind can give you. I have ridden for over 4 hours on rocks with my IPod without getting off my bike before. It’s a real euphoric feeling.