After a full year without racing, Jackson Frew hopes to take on international racing once again in 2021. This season brings plenty of change for Jackson as he leaves the Kona Factory team to his own supported program. The young Australian rider has had plenty of success of the past few years, including two top 30 finishes at World Champs in 2018 and 2019. Jackson also took the Oceania Continental Champ title in 2019 ahead of Connor Fearon, George Brannigan and Dean Lucas. We caught up with Jackson to talk about how he got into racing and his plans for 2021.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m from Canberra, Australia and I still live there now.
Who do you ride for?
I’m currently riding for Dharco, Thredbo MTB, Pushys Online, Kona Bikes Aus, Enve Aus
What does a typical day look like for you?
It depends on the day of the week and where I’m working or what I’m working on! For the most part, it's working in the morning and riding something in the afternoon.
How did you get into mountain biking and DH racing?
At first, I wasn’t interested in mountain bikes, it was all about BMX racing. It wasn’t till 2007 when BMX Worlds were in Victoria, Canada and a friend suggested that before we went home, we should go to Whistler and ride. So, my first real exposure to Downhill was on A-line in Whistler.
What are your strengths?
I’m not too sure, I think I’m pretty good at getting comfortable on a track pretty quickly.
What are your weaknesses?
I tend to overthink things a bit, whether it’s the track or how I’m feeling on the track.
What’s been the worse crash you've had?
I’m not sure actually, I’ve been pretty lucky with injuries and crashes, but one particularly comes to mind as especially big. Off the second road gap into the trees at Lourdes World Cup a few years ago right before racing. Over the weekend some massive holes came out in the landing and the dirt was a bit slick from the night before, so right before racing I went deeper than I had before and slipped the front wheel into one of the holes. I rolled over a second later at the feet of a random french photographer about 30 meters down the hill in the trees to a marshall yelling at me to get my bike off the track.
Where’s your favorite place to ride?
In Aus, I love Thredbo and Bright, they are probably our best racetracks. But my all-time favorite track I have ever ridden is without a doubt Andorra! I look forward to racing that track every year!
What bikes are you riding right now?
Currently riding an operator, Process 153 and a Shonky!
Who or what inspires you?
I draw inspiration from a lot of different places, at the moment I look to Moto a lot. Guys like Roczen who has come back so many insane injuries to win again.
What do you enjoy doing away from bikes?
Away from bikes I really enjoy anything to do with cars! Definitely my biggest escape from bikes!
What do you do to rest and recover after a race?
Big sleep in! haha! Generally straight after a race is travel time so recovery can be tricky, I’ll usually try and sleep more than usual maybe catch up on supercross or its become a favorite to find the local karts!
What advice would you give to someone trying to get into racing?
Enjoy riding your bike, ride it as much as you can, and ride as many different types of bikes as you can because then you’ll always be learning new skills!
How do you get focused before a race?
For me it's all about being as relaxed as possible, so my pre-race looks super cruisey, a lot of messing around with my mechanic Alex. For a while we’d find some weird Spotify playlists to listen to. We definitely got some weird looks as we were walking to the start blasting Russian Hardstyle!
Where do you think the future of DH racing is headed?
I’m not sure, it's definitely taken a turn for the high tech, high speed and high commitment style racing. I don’t think that will help the privateers or new riders coming in but I think it makes it so spectacular that it seems to attract more riders to just get out and ride but not necessarily race… so I don’t really know where it's going to go from here.
With your departure from Kona for 2021, what bike are you going to be racing this year?
I’ll be continuing on a Kona with the team from Kona Bikes Australia. I’ve had so much time riding the Operator and testing on it that I felt like it was better for me to keep the same formula rather than make drastic changes without the support to make it an easy change.
Have you managed to pick up any sponsors so far this year?
I’ve had some really promising discussions with a lot of great companies and I have a lot of great relationships in the industry. Unfortunately, due to manufacturing difficulties as well as a massive influx of new riders, stock has been the biggest challenge to setting up a program at the moment.
In the current circumstances, how hard has it been to find sponsorship deals for the upcoming season?
It’s been interesting, I’m not sure about the rest of the world but here in Aus cycling, in general, has gone wild. There are so many new riders that it is making stock the biggest issue, that paired with an industry that seems to be very tentative to spend money as no one seems to know when this massive sales spike will end.
What are your plans for the 2021 race season, will you be trying to attend every World Cup?
My aim at the moment is to attend as many as possible. As with last year travel restrictions particularly for us Australians are very tight and the global situation is always changing!
What are your hopes for this year’s racing, do you have any goals you want to hit by the end of
I feel really good on the bike, how that will translate into race speed I don’t know just yet. For sure my main goal is to get back to where I finished the 2019 season, as September 2019 was my last international race!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just a big thank you to everyone who has supported me to this point and to the people who are still with me! See you at the races!
If it breaks, a new one is stuffed in the trailer.
If you have fitment issue, something brand new might get made for you.
If you have a flight that has to be changed, the factory is picking up the tab.
When you show up at the race, the food is handed to you already cooked.
When you step off your bike, the factory washes it, swaps out all broken or worn bits for new shiny photo op bits.
When you wreck and snap your custom linkage & wheelbase frame on your last practice run, a mechanic and crew pull your bits off in less than 45 minutes and have an exact replica of what you just shattered rolling to the start hut with your spare wheels.
When you pedal at the start hut, someone is handing you eucalyptus soaked cotton balls to stuff in your sinuses.
When your race run is over, your stationery trainer, spare wheels and everything else are waiting at the team trailer for you.
If you hurt your body, a team soigneur is taping you up, massaging out the kinks and helping with your rehab at every round.
Long winded I know...but even being ON a factory downhill team most times is still pretty much being a Privateer if you're not the Alpha.
Downhill hasn't had many truly factory teams since GT & Cannondale showed up at US NORBA Nationals with NASCAR style tractor trailers.