Getting to Know: Welsh Enduro Racer Leigh Johnson

May 16, 2020
by Ed Spratt  
Photo: Sebastian Schieck

Leigh Johnson


The British Pole Enduro Team rider had an incredible 2019 season with two top-ten finishes and closing out the year with a 12th place finish in the overall. Although we are still no closer to kicking things off in 2020 we caught up with Leigh to talk about how he got started in Enduro and how the virus is affecting his season.




Where are you from and where do you live now?


I was born in Neath, South Wales and I'm still here. I can’t picture myself anywhere else at the moment, we have some amazing riding on my doorstep!

Who do you ride for?


I’m riding for the Pole Bicycle Enduro team supported by Sweet Protection, Fidlock Bottles, Huck Norris and Spank components.

What does a typical day look like for you?


I would say my typical day begins with my go-to breakfast of 4 eggs and a bagel, then straight out riding. Depending on what my training plan looks like for that day, sometimes intervals or a longer ride, back home for lunch, then I enjoy playing around with some bikes or making something in the garage, before an evening gym session or razz on enduro motorbike.

How did you get into enduro racing?


I’ve always ridden bikes and raced DH for a good few years before looking for something a bit different. I entered my first Enduro race in 2013 and haven’t looked back since.

Leigh Johnson gets down and dusty on stage one. The ruts are getting deep as in powder bru.

What are your strengths?


I think I have a good technical knowledge of how a bike and suspension works which allows me to find the best set up for me and give feedback on products, also it’s an advantage in case of any mechanicals out on the track.

I think riding wise my strengths are on technical, tight and niggly trails as that’s what I spend a lot of time riding at home in Wales, we have those types of trails in abundance.

What are your weaknesses?


My social media, I’ve always been a quiet person and like to keep myself to myself but I’m learning, if you’d like to give me a follow on Instagram, I promise to try to keep you entertained from now on haha. Again riding wise my weaknesses would be on the faster more bike park type of trails as that’s what I spend the least amount of time riding.

What’s been the worse crash you've had?


I would say I’ve been quite lucky so far but my last big crash was in a race stage in Rotorua last year, got caught out by a slippy root that appeared during the race and hit the floor damn hard haha.

Where’s your favorite place to ride?


Mmm I don’t think I can commit to one particular place but I would say definitely somewhere in the Alps, but I also do love riding at home when it’s sunny and dry!

Leigh Johnson on stage 3 and in 15th after the first day of racing

How did you get into mountain biking?


I always rode bikes as a kid, I got very interested in BMX at a younger age but a group of friends all got DH bikes so I joined in with that and have stuck to the dirt since.

What bikes are you riding right now?


I spend 90% of my riding time I think on my Pole Stamina 180, then I have a Pole Machine and Tomu to mix it up a bit.

Who or what inspires you?


Definitely cycling wise has got to be Sam Hill, his level of riding skill is just insane to watch.

What do you enjoy doing away from bikes?


Mmm that’s a hard one haha, I try to spend as much time on my enduro motorbike as possible, then if I can’t do that I like heading to the beaches to explore and have some chill time with a BBQ.

Photo: Sebastian Schieck

What do you do to rest and recover after a race?


I like to take 2 days of not riding if possible, eat as much as possible and have a bit of a stretch out, just to get the body ready to go again.

What advice would you give to someone trying to get into racing?


Definitely not to give up. I remember when I started I was not getting great results by any means and it’s easy to get frustrated at that, but keep putting in some hard work and you will get somewhere.

How do you get focused before starting a race?


I actually try to think of non-racing related things surprisingly, I find that thinking about the race too much can make me a bit anxious and stressed, I think I work best when I’m relaxed.

Where do you think the future of enduro racing is headed?


Since I started racing Enduro in 2014 I feel like it’s come a long way, I think although there is amazing coverage it would be so cool to get a live stream even if it’s just one whole stage.

Photo: Sebastian Schieck


How has the spread of Coronavirus affected you so far?


It was pretty hard after ramping up training ready to go racing at the end of March, but now all that has been put on hold and don’t know when I will need to be ready to race again. I’ve still been able to get out and ride, although trying to be very careful and limit risks. I’ve also lost count of the number of projects around the house so I need some time off that for now.

What are your plans going forward to work around the limitations put in place against the virus?


Obviously we won’t be able to go racing for a while yet but when restrictions are eased it would be cool to do some video projects, I’ve never really committed much time to stuff like that as my priority has always been racing but I look forward to using the time to do some different things.





17 Comments

  • 69 1
 Quiet people can be a blessing in this day & age mate. I think it's a shame that so much success as a pro is directly linked to your social media success nowadays. Personally I enjoy seeing people like yourself and Lewis Buchanan etc just riding tech with a bit of explanation & advice, just as much if not more than the vids from Sam pilgrim etc. But that's just me
  • 11 1
 Couldn’t agree more man
  • 30 2
 Vlog culture is making the sport worse
  • 5 12
flag ORAORA (May 17, 2020 at 11:53) (Below Threshold)
 @kleinblake:
so you’d be better doing some niche, unpopular sport with a handful of manufacturers - because there would be no market, and hard to reach spots - because there would be no riders?

Hate Fabio or Pilgrim as much as you want, but it’s hype youtube guys like them who attract a lot of fresh blood and money to the industry.
  • 26 1
 @ORAORA: those folks aren’t the problem. It’s that you can’t go anywhere without some talentless rider decked out in 15 GoPros filming everything they do. And because for some reason people watch it, they get sponsorships while actual talented riders struggle to get to events.
  • 9 0
 Big fan, glad to see a valleys lad on the world stage. I'd echo what was said above about quiet people. I'm sure we've all had that one mate who rarely speaks but destroys when they do.
  • 7 0
 Btw what is the green helmet? It looks a good shape
  • 3 0
 Sweet protection trailblazer
  • 4 0
 @wohwee: is that a name or a compliment?
  • 4 0
 I have been riding and racing with Leigh for many years, the most focused rider in the whole of the Valleys! Under the radar for a long time, big things for the future!
  • 3 0
 I like these ‘Get to know’ articles, they give a good insight into not only the rider but the training regimes etc too
  • 1 0
 I started racing enduro about the same time and it’s cool to see the progress. I think it’s important to be yourself. Defo one to watch and the Pole bike is a beast......
  • 2 0
 A gentleman, see him a bit training around Neath PTalbot, always approachable,
  • 2 0
 May the frame be with you!
  • 1 0
 Cheers
  • 6 6
 Imagine being the guy who has to test out Pole's pre-production frames....
  • 7 1
 You would get used to your pole breaking alot after a while

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