Last year, Jamie Edmondson finished off his first elite season with a podium spot in Lousa, an impressive feat for a 19-year-old privateer. Even more impressive, Edmondson did dual duty in both Enduro and Downhill disciplines and had three podiums in the U21 category in the Enduro World Series in 2020 before the World Cup DH season started.
Edmondson is excited to jump from a privateer set up to the RockShox Trek Race Team in 2021 and will focus his racing on the World Cup circuit, with a few Enduro World Series events along the way. We find out how the young Scotsman funded his privateer set up last year, who his mentors and favourite riders are, and what his goals are coming into the 2021 season.
When did you start mountain biking?Jamie Edmondson:
I started mountain biking when I was seven years old, I think.
How did you get into racing from then?Jamie Edmondson:
I think that when I was about seven. I used to live near Fort William and I went to watch the World Champs in 2007. From there, I just always wanted to race. I was a really super competitive kid and always loved downhill. So it just spiralled from there really.
It seems like you've done every discipline of racing, including some Enduro World Series races earlier this year. Do you think that helps you as a rider to have tried all the different disciplines?Jamie Edmondson:
Yeah, I think so. I'm fitter and I'm getting more time on my bike and staying competitive for longer, which has really helped me recently.
Does it feel like you progressed quickly through the ranks? Or does it feel like you've been chipping away at this World Cup podium for a while?Jamie Edmondson:
I think it felt like I was chipping away for a while, and then I got to Lousa and it seemed like that accelerated a bit. I just had four good days of riding in a row and ended up on the podium. But until then I'd definitely been chipping away slowly. Slowly building the speed and the experience and getting to where I wanted to be really.
Could take us through your Junior years on the World Cup scene? What were they like?Jamie Edmondson:
I had it all right the first year Junior. I think I finished the year fifth overall. I had a couple fourths and a couple fifths, but never managed to quite get the podium. Then the year after, 2019 it would have been, I had some injuries, had some issues, didn't really get the results I was looking for. I had a couple top tens and a few top five, but I never quite made it onto the podium. I think I had my good runs when everyone had their good runs, and then when someone unexpected would win, I'd be crashing out or doing something stupid. The luck never played in my favor. Certainly it was unexpected this year.
What were some of those injuries that you've had to deal with in those years as a junior?Jamie Edmondson:
I think I've been pretty lucky for the most part. I think of chipping away slowly, I've never pushed so hard that I've ended up properly injured. I broke my knuckle in my hand, middle of 2019 at National Champs and that was the first bone I'd ever broke. So I think just niggling injuries that last a couple of weekends. Generally I've been pretty lucky with the injury side of things.
Going into your first year elite, what support did you have from different bike companies?Jamie Edmondson:
I got a discount on my frame and then managed to pull together all the other parts from just getting product from different companies to build up two bikes, and that was about it in terms of support. I got some kit as well, but then all the money I had to find and earn myself really with the help of my parents.
Were you working and going to school these past couple of years and relying on family?Jamie Edmondson:
Well, I left school 2018 now. I got out pretty early and I worked part-time doing a bit of ski instructing and working for my parents, they've got a cafe where I live, so I can work there in the coffee shop. And doing bits and pieces and enough to get by and just about get to the races.
What's your favorite kind of coffee?Jamie Edmondson:
Just flat white, very regular, simple. Pretty boring.
What's the craziest coffee order you've ever had to make for somebody?Jamie Edmondson:
Oh, I don't know. We don't get too many crazy orders down here, it's a pretty small, rural village. So everyone's pretty tame you could say.
How many people live in your town?Jamie Edmondson:
In the little town that I'm in, there's probably 600 people, maybe a bit less. You know everyone, and everyone knowing what's going on, it's kind of cool.
Have you lived there your entire life?Jamie Edmondson:
I'm not quite at the East coast, but near it, and I lived on the West coast until I was nine years old, over near Fort William.
Do you have a good crew of people to ride with?Jamie Edmondson:
Yeah, there's a pretty good scene in Inverness. There's Greg Williamson, and Ella Conolly, and a few others that are all training and racing. At the weekends, there's loads of folks, real good atmosphere, it's pretty cool to have. Everyone just comes together.
Inverness is a weird spot. We've got a pump track now, dirt jumps, big bump up jumps, singletrack, it's got a lot going on for a little town, which is pretty cool.
Do you help build stuff? Or is that the local work trail organization? Or how does that work?Jamie Edmondson:
It's kind of an unofficial trail organization. There's a few guys that head it up, and when they say you're going digging, you just go digging. And everyone pitches in, and that's what I love about the way it works, which is pretty cool.
You ended up being in a couple of the The Privateer: Walk The Talk episodes with Ben Cathro this season. How did you get to know Ben? What was it like working with him the past season?Jamie Edmondson:
. It was really cool. I must've met Ben in my first year racing Scottish races when I was 11. Then I was on his team when I was 12. He had a little Sick Skills Development Team with me and a couple of other guys on it. We did a lot of coaching with Ben, and then raced all the Scottish races. I did that for a few years before I went to FMD. I already knew Ben coming into this year and he'd said, "Oh, you can have some space in the pits." Because at that point he was injury-free, planning on racing. The plan was, I was going to hang out in the back of the pits if I needed it, just sort of get by at the races, and then it escalated from there. He was stoked to make it work and so was I, and it was real cool to have his support and all the boys there. It was a cool atmosphere, for sure.
What was it like to be a part of the Walk The Talk series?Jamie Edmondson:
It was cool. It was really fun to film. I think it was easy because I knew Ben and Max already. It didn't feel like you did have a camera in your face, but you knew the guys that were filming, so it all felt pretty natural, which was nice. Then it ended up turning out really cool, which is always a bonus.
2020 was a bit of a weird year, and it seemed like a lot of younger athletes in cross-country and downhill rolled well with the punches and had some great results. Why do you think you were able to, in the midst of a pandemic, pull some pretty great results?Jamie Edmondson:
I don't know. I think maybe the younger guys don't have such a set routine yet. Whereas some guys, they know their winter plan, they go somewhere and they ride there and they know that they can peak for the first race. I don't think I've ever really felt like I've peaked coming into a season, so it didn't phase me too much. I think I got to ride more than I did all winter. Me and my dad went out to Europe for the first couple of weeks before the first EWS and stayed out there, driving around, staying in apartments for two months from the first in June to the last downhill. So I rode pretty much every day, and I think that really helped, getting a lot of good bike time.
Would you like to see more double-header races?Jamie Edmondson:
I think at certain tracks, it's really cool. I think the two tracks we had just about worked, and the weather changing in the middle of Maribor definitely saved it from being pretty one line, high speed track for four days.
But I think we've gone the right track where they can change it enough that it feels different. I think it'd be really cool to have, because certainly there were bits of track that developed over the four days that people were pushing more than they would normally, which was cool to see.
Moving into 2021, you're going to have your own pits. What does that mean to you to have factory support for this coming year?Jamie Edmondson:
It's really exciting. I think it takes a lot of weight of my shoulders. I can just focus on the racing and not having to spend all off season writing emails to sponsors to try and pull together a bike. And I know when I get to the races I can just ride, I'm not worrying about fixing broken parts, and I can focus on my performance a bit more. I think it will really help me, which I'm excited for.
When did RockShox approached you about forming this team?Jamie Edmondson:
I think I was driving home from Lousa, must've been on a Sunday, me and my dad just drove straight home from Portugal to the North of Scotland, straight that night. I must have had a message on the way somewhere, from John Dawson at SRAM RockShox and we set up a call and went from there really. From that first call, it was definitely the team that I wanted to be with the most out of everyone that I spoke to, so pretty exciting to get the chance to be involved with it.
Did you have other offers after your two amazing results this year? Or was that the first team that approached you?Jamie Edmondson:
I had a couple others, and I had all my older sponsors I was with last year, they were stoked and they were offering more if I wanted to be a privateer again. I had a few good team offers and it was nice to be able to have some offers on the table and weigh up what was the best option. I think a lot of people were, the way the contracts were, no one was really sure what was going to happen.
Have you been able to try the new bike yet?Jamie Edmondson:
Not yet. I think I've got a call with my mechanic after this, and then the bike's getting sent out. So it should be two weeks, and I should be on the Session by then, hopefully. I'm very excited for it.
Are you pretty picky with your setup?Jamie Edmondson:
Probably not, no. I ran the same tire pressure last year, at every race I did pretty much with the same tires, and my suspension isn't far off the recommended on the website. So I'm probably not that fussy compared to a lot of professionals, but I think when it's good, I know it's good and I don't want to change it. I think that once I've got it set, I'm happy just to leave it for months because I like to know how it's going to react, and where I can push, and how to work with the bike, which I think is probably my style a bit more than changing it every race.
Do you take any time off the bike in the winter? Or you just ride all year round?Jamie Edmondson:
I got home start of November, took all of November off and just went building and digging in the woods for a month pretty much. Got some tracks prepped for riding on this winter, and chilled out a bit. I think it had been such an intense two months prior to that, that it was nice not to touch a bike, and you almost didn't miss it for the month I took off. Then I started training again in the started of December, and I've been on it since really.
What does a typical training week look like for you?Jamie Edmondson:
This time of year, trying to ride two, three times a week, if not more. Then getting to gyms when they're open and when I can, and I'll ski a bit, there's ski touring to be done, and keeping busy. Ride motocross when it's dry and ride motorbikes, and just keeping busy. I think as long as I'm busy, I'm okay. I get pretty bored pretty quickly otherwise.
Is it weird for you to not have to think about anything but riding your bike?Jamie Edmondson:
Yeah. I definitely have to do a few things to keep me busy, just fill in the gaps between training sessions and riding. And it gets dark here pretty early, so it's not so bad at this time of year. But when I ended the season I got a motor bike off a friend and rebuilt that, so I got a trails bike to ride in the woods now. And doing little projects to keep me ticking over has been helping me keep busy I think.
What are some of the projects that you're working on?Jamie Edmondson:
Just stuff around the house, trail building and keeping bikes running and helping other people fix their bikes and that kind of... It's all bike related really.
What about outside of biking, what other things do you like to do when you're not on your bike or thinking about biking?Jamie Edmondson:
I don't know. My life seems to revolve around biking. And I ride motocross and trials. Do a bit of that and then skiing. There's a good group of people that ski around here that's pretty cool, we can go out and tour for a day or ski lapse, which is cool. I seem to have managed to collect enough bikes that I can ride a different bike every day of the week, and that keeps me busy as well. I'm not riding the same stuff too often, which is nice.
Are you worried, coming into 2021, that you've got a bullseye on your head? Like it's going to be hard to follow up on your results from last season?Jamie Edmondson:
I think a little bit. I think it was more of a, 'Was it a one hit wonder?' type thing. I'm probably not the target at the moment, but everyone's seen me get that one podium and it's now like, well, can I get another one? I think of how it's been in the last year, I was feeling good and hopefully with the new bike, I think it can only get better really.I'm pretty excited to see how it goes.
Who are some of the people that you look up to in, I guess, mountain biking or any other sports that you pay attention to?Jamie Edmondson:
I think people like Minnaar and Bruni and those boys that have been able to be so consistent and they're just always composed and smooth. That course style is the style that I'd always look up to. Being able just to go fast and turn it on every weekend that they need to, and they seem to have fun while they're doing it, which is cool to see as well.
Do you have any mentors that you've worked with? It sounds like Ben Cathro was one, is there anybody else who's helped you progress as a rider in your career?Jamie Edmondson:
I guess Greg Williamson has been, I lived near him for the last 10 years, which has been cool, and I was riding with him when I was 13, 14. I was a little grub and he would take me out to his tracks that he'd built to ride up lifts and chill, and so I still ride with him now. And it's cool to be able to see that changing to us racing each other and pushing each other more than ever, it's pretty cool.
Have you met the teammates that you're going to have this coming year?Jamie Edmondson:
Yeah. I've met Vali before, we're the same age, so we grew up racing juniors together. I know Ethan and I know Tegan vaguely through his brother. So it's a pretty cool setup and I'm excited to work with them and ride with them this year, for sure.
We're all on the same tracks, so track walking and all that stuff, and GoPros. And looking at lines together as a team will be pretty cool, and we can help each other out, and as a team work to push harder and faster which will be exciting.
Are there some tracks that suit you better than others?Jamie Edmondson:
I don't think so. I seem to riding since I was a kid for so long now that I seem to do okay everywhere. Probably the dry, dusty, when it's real loose, I probably struggle the most. I don't mind dust, but when it's real marbly, I don't get much of that at home, so that would be when it gets hard, for sure.
In a regular World Cup season, what's your favorite thing about racing?Jamie Edmondson:
I think just probably the atmosphere, just being able to ride with your buddies from all around the world, and just push together. And everyone's working towards the same thing but they're doing it their own ways. And being able to be on the same track with all the best guys in the world is pretty cool.
Everyone always seems to get pretty loose in practice at World Cups, which is always exciting to watch and be a part of. I think just the atmosphere on the track when everyone's pushing hard and focused, but enjoying it, it's always pretty cool.
What about the worst part?Jamie Edmondson:
When it gets stressful at times. That and cleaning up after rain days. I love riding in the rain, I just hate being muddy. As soon as the riding is over, it's just another hour of cleaning your bike and cleaning your kit, and then all again the next day. I just sound quite lazy, but wet conditions are great, but cleaning your bike for an hour afterward...
What are some of the goals that you've set for yourself next year?Jamie Edmondson:
I've kept expectations not too high, and so the goal would be top 30, top 25 consistently, every weekend. Being able to know that I can put myself there and actually going from 20th, to 10th, to fifth isn't a massive jump downhill anymore. Times are so tight that it could be two seconds to go from top 20 to top five. So to be able to be consistently on there to then push that last little bit and take some risks, would be the goal.