Fionn Griffiths

Fionn Griffiths

"I have goals and dreams and I know there is only one way to achieve them," says the downhill mountain bike racer.

Raise Your Game: Why downhill mountain biking?

Fionn Griffiths: Downhill mountain biking is such an amazing sport, few people really understand the level of skill and commitment involved to compete at the top level of riding.

On the UCI World Cup Tour (Union Cycliste Internationale) the riders are challenged every week with a variety of demanding terrain, and we need to call on our diverse range of skills: excellent balance, lightning fast reactions and nerves of steel. These are all qualities that you'll find in just about every World Cup racer. From the age of 16 I've been enjoying the adrenalin rushes and adventures that traveling and racing at this level brings.

I first got into riding when I had an accident in my race car. I looked to mountain biking to help heal my injuries. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to go to a local training day held by the Mid Shropshire Wheelers where I picked up my first race entry form. From there I've never looked back! I've grown up racing and day-to-day I'm surrounded by an awesome group of people that over the years have become a second family to me.

RYG :Is it a dangerous sport?

FG: No matter which way you look at it there's always going to be an element of danger associated with downhill mountain biking. But with the use of proper safety equipment, along with a healthy dose of common sense, most accidents and injuries can be avoided.

RYG: What does a typical week's training consist of?

Profile

Name:
Fionn Griffiths

Born:
27 August 1982

From:
Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Events:
Downhill and 4X Mountain Biking

Achievements:

  • Two time Downhill World Cup Champion
  • 4X World Cup Winner
  • Two time World Championship silver medalist
  • Five times UK National Champion

FG: Four days in the gym: two upper body and two lower alternating. Along with that I do cardio work: extended road rides or runs most days. As for skill work on the bike I try to get out and ride downhill most days.

RYG: What sort of sacrifices have you had to make to get you to this point in your career?

FG: Most people only see the positives of what I do: traveling, racing, meeting new people, but there are a few negatives and sacrifices involved too. I don't get to see my family as much as I'd like to. For six months of the year I'm away racing, and for another three on top of that I'm usually away training somewhere. As far as friends at home I've lost touch with most of them through being away so much, and our lives just seem to go in different directions.

Going to new places and seeing all the different countries is great, but the traveling itself takes its toll. It's difficult to race competitively at an international level when you're always tired from traveling.

The last one is that my life is run by my career. I have goals and dreams and I know there is only one way to achieve them, and that is total commitment and submersion in what I do.

RYG: What have been the highlights of your career so far?

FG: I've had three World Cup victories and three World Championship medals. There is only one dream left that will trump my first Downhill World Cup win - World Champion.

RYG: And the lowlights?

FG: Injuries are always the hardest to overcome for me, both mentally and physically. It requires a lot of hard work and focus to come back from any injury setback.

The first race of the 2004 season I broke my ankle in three places, I was devastated. I tried to keep racing the season but I only made things worse. I went on to break my ankle a total of seven times over a year and a half. It was one of the biggest mistakes I've ever made. I'm only now beginning to realize how to mentally put myself back together.

RYG: What sorts of skills do you need to be a top downhill mountain biker?

FG: Determination. It's not easy to get to the top of a World Cup podium. I think every athlete out there has had struggles with one thing or another in the past, whether it is physical ability, focus or sponsorship.

Also you need good balance, an eye for the fastest lines, to be slightly crazy and a total love for what you do. As soon as the fun has gone your speed will too.

RYG: How do you go about getting yourself in the zone before competing?

FG: It's something that just happens for me. I'm either on or I'm not. I try to focus but it's really something inside of me that I can't control that gets me in my zone.

RYG: How do you control the nerves before a big competition?

FG: I find nerves help me before an event. If I'm nervous that's a good sign for me. The only place I have to try and control them is in my actual race run. If I just let them go I get frantic and start to make mistakes.

I stand behind my bike in the start gate until the clock counts down to 30 seconds. At that point I'll get on my bike and control my breathing and thoughts. At 15 seconds I smile - this reminds me to have fun on my race run. When I do that great things happen!

RYG: What advice would you give to youngsters wanting to get to the top of the sport?

FG: Just get out and ride! There's no guaranteed route to the top but if your heart and soul is in it you'll have a greater chance at achieving your dreams. The more competitions you can do the better. You'll start to get used to the feelings of pressure, expectation and disappointment. These are ALL valuable in the long path to the top. Above all else, enjoy what you're doing.


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