Sam Hill is among Australian sport’s finest exports.
The 32-year old from down under has an eye-watering list of honours to his name. He has remained a formidable force in mountain biking for well over a decade—and that hunger to stay top of the game seems as strong as ever.
We got talking to Sam about world domination and keeping things fresh.
Sam grabbed glory at the Enduro World Series last year. It was his first full season since quitting downhill in 2014, a decision he looks back on without regret…
“I was definitely struggling with my motivation in my last couple years of racing downhill, I’d been racing the same tracks for a long time. The EWS has given me a new excitement to go racing and it’s been a new challenge to try and accomplish, so that’s kept me motivated”.
That new challenge enduro riding brings has clearly had a big impact. The intensity and diversity of the series has helped Sam to fall in love with competitive riding all over again.
“It’s all in the way they change it up, so you’re riding different venues and tracks each time. It really does keep the series so interesting and fun to race.”
Of course, the jump from downhill to enduro isn’t an easy one—even for the best in the world.
“I think trying to focus on racing several stages a day has been a big difference. With downhill there’s one track and one race run. Having to be consistent and fast for 2 days of racing is tough mentally and physically.”
But the best adapt fast, and that’s exactly what Sam has done.
After picking up two podium finishes during bit-part seasons in 2015 and 2016, he’s grown into enduro, stayed fit and left his frustrations with the downhill game behind.
Now in 2018, Sam is chasing a second successive EWS title.
It’s a big ask for anyone, and the Aussie admits he’s feeling the pressure…
“I definitely think there’s more pressure to back it up. Also, I probably wasn’t a favourite for the title last year, so now a lot more people will be looking at me. The expectation is so much higher and I’ve really got to push myself to meet it.”
Sam already holds an impressive lead in this year’s series, and after clinical wins in Chile and Colombia, he showed us he’s still the one to beat. It seems he is able to channel the pressure he puts on himself to win, but is also ready to take the rough with the smooth, and likes to keep his focus on enjoying riding for what it is.
“As a kid getting into the sport I never imagined I would accomplish what I have. But I’ve slowly made goals for myself and have some great achievements to my name. There’s no ultimate end dream, I just want to keep racing and having fun on my bike.”
[WATCH] Sam’s highlights from his win at EWS Round 2 Manizales, Colombia
GEARING UP FOR GLORY
Sam joined Chain Reaction Cycles in 2013, and hasn’t really looked back. The team behind him have become an integral factor to his continued success.
“It’s been awesome working with those guys, from day one. They have always believed in me and had my back, and they were super accommodating when I wanted to switch my focus to race the EWS. They’re like family to me and I’m proud to represent them.”
He’s riding on the Nukeproof Mega this year, fitted with his signature flat pedals, RockShox Super Deluxe Air suspension and Code RSC brakes.
New to 2018 are the Michelin Wild Enduro tires.
Two years in the making, they’re built to perform across more than 80 percent of enduro terrain and deliver unbeatable grip and stability for high speed riders like Sam.
“The Wild Enduros have been amazing for me this season. Michelin have packed so much into these tires, the rubber compound gives me so much confidence cornering and in tough conditions, especially when it’s a bit wetter or cold.”
ALWAYS MOVING FORWARDS
You’d think for a rider of Sam’s calibre, there would be little to improve upon.
But when you’re at the peak of your sport, every second counts. And the thought that the reigning EWS champion is still only finding his feet in the world of enduro is an exciting prospect.
Sam admits he’ll never stop learning…
“I think it’s important to try and always learn and become a better rider. You can always improve. I learnt some important lessons last year, and have just tried to focus on raising my game in certain areas for this season.”
And it’s that mentality of constant improvement that’s served him so well since he burst onto the scene 16 years ago. We’re stoked to see what the next year brings!
Want more like this? Read: Cecile Ravanel: “I’m addicted to adrenaline.”