Interview: Digging for Details with Hardline Chief Course Builder Olly Davey

Sep 13, 2019
by Tristan Tinn  

So, we’re here at the sixth Red Bull Hardline and through the years the course has evolved significantly. I sat down with Olly Davey and asked him to dish the dirt on the devil child that he and Dan Atherton have created. Unfortunately, Dan himself was elusive on site today, spending the majority of his day running Dyfi Bikepark.

Can you summarise briefly the back story behind this course and event?

Well, I guess Hardline started through Dan's desire to have a course that’s got every kind of feature on it. A lot of the World Cup tracks have their own style, some fast and flowy, and some steep and tech. He really wanted everything in one place; to really test the riders, and see what’s possible. Dan's desire was to reset all the settings and prove what’s possible on a mountain bike, really.

Dan Atherton handled the tools not the bars come race day. Here thinking about the day ahead with Olly Davey the other man due credit for this creation
Olly and Dan tools in hand at last years event

When you first discovered the hillside and its potential, how did your expectations then compare to what this course and event has become?

I think it’s pretty much as we both imagined really. There are quite a few things that we’ve done over the years, just because we can’t do it in one go, because of the amount of work. We’ve stuck to the plan of what we wanted to create and there’s still more to do. There's quite a lot of features we’d like to bring in, not just jumps, but fast technical sections too.

When designing this track, what were the top considerations?

I guess flow and to kind of show off each rider's flare. Having quite big features with a lot of airtime and often quite offset features, so they have to carve up the ramp; something just to bring the style out really.

What has been the biggest challenge in designing and constructing this track?

The biggest battle is working with the weather up here. We're really high up and exposed in a deep valley, so we get lots of weather blowing in. In terms of individual features, I’d have to say the road gap. We couldn’t get any machinery in. All the timbers had to be placed by hand.

Have you had to employ any trail building techniques or materials that are unique to this course?

Whenever we do groundworks, there’s kind of three different layers of dirt here. We generally discard the top mushy layer which is quite peaty. Then, we get down to the real like fine clay mixed with gravel. We generally separate the dirt quite well, so we get that surface to go really hard in the sun to keep it rolling well. Separating the soil is key to the build.

What is the biggest lesson you've learned building this track?

Manage your expectations. You can't rush it. Yeah, that would be it, really. There's always a time constraint because we're limited, either by budget from Red Bull, or working around the weather.

Mid day trench maintenance teams
Mid event maintenance. Despite making the trail hard-wearing, work is constantly ongoing to keep the riders safe.

With your riding shoes on, what do you think is the most challenging aspect of this course?

I’d say it’s more the technical sections in between the features which are often overlooked. Everyone sees the big features, but there are some really tricky, tight steep sections, which you’ve got to be a really good technical rider to get down them - but on camera, it never shows it.

Out of you and your crew, does one person guinea pig features more than others?

Yeah, Jamie Cable is pretty capable on a bike, so we tend to send him down some stuff. A young local rider, he’s probably the most skilled out of us lot.

A lot has changed on course this year. The Dirty Ferns step up has morphed into a hip that sends riders into space, but then much of the track has been resurfaced, arguably making it easier. What's the deal with that?

That's the main issue - the weather. You never know, like yesterday, we had torrential rain all day. If that was the day when the riders had to race, then the ground and the lips have got to stand up to that. Our main focus is making the run-ins to the jumps really consistent so in any weather, the riders can get down.

Thanks for your time Olly, we look forwards to seeing what the future brings for this course!

Catch Red Bull Hardline Qualifying Live tomorrow HERE at 14:00 GMT


  • 10 1
 You are insane! Congrats on making a seasoned rider/racer want to be a spectator.
  • 6 0
 Dan always looks pissed off.
  • 3 0
 Looks like an amazing build guys! Hats off to you fellas and to the riders that hit it. Looking forward to the race. best of luck guys!
  • 3 0
 Got to love a sneak glimpse of a fleet of Land Rover Defenders. Brendog and Bernard must be in there elements !!
  • 1 0
 Read the whole thing in a welsh accent
  • 1 0
 i read it like the voice of the dog in "davey & goliath"
  • 1 0
 @rocky-mtn-gman: I read to my lady ,who is British in a crap Brit accent. She laughed.
  • 1 0
 The Magician himself!
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