Photo Epic: Pinkbike Racing's First World Cup Season - Part One

Sep 8, 2022
by Henry Quinney  
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"If you build it, they will come" is, as advice goes, pretty awful. Whether it's Flanders' Leftorium or life at the Etihad Stadium, it's probably not a maxim to live your life by. However, every once in a while a cavalier can-do attitude pulls through and makes space for something special.

This team is still in its infancy, but as we close curtains on the wild World Cup season, I thought we were all due a trip down memory lane. Somehow, the six months since Lourdes seems like a lifetime. I've certainly aged, we've all learnt a shit ton and collectively, we've eaten enough broccoli for it to be classified as deforestation on a near-industrial scale.

Here is part one of the Pinkbike Racing Photo Epic.



Before we get to the heart of it, some special thanks are in order, as PBR wouldn't have happened without them.

Tina Cathro for getting us to the races, Peter Duke for making sure we knew what we were doing when we got there, Craig Bunnell for making us brocco-holics, Harry Jenkinson for not only filming the chaos, but often revelling in the bedlam, Max Rendall and Glen Thompson for sleeping a cumulative 17.5 hours between them over 9 races and making the coverage as good as it is, and of course Ben Cathro, not only for taking on such an outrageous challenge, but also for being the ultimate BFG.

A big thank you to all the brands that supported us as well. To the outside, this might just seem like lip service, but without their kindness, faith, patience and professionalism, I don't know where we'd be. Also, a massive thank you to all the photographers who, after standing on a rainy hillside for 10 hours, then organised, edited and sent us all the photos you see before you. Thank you Ross Bell, Andy Vathis, Nathan Hughes, Nico Widovitch and Jack Tennyson for working with the team this year.




Round 1 - Lourdes - All Hell Breaks Loose

Lourdes was a strange event in some ways. As it happens, starting a team in the midst of a world's part shortage is brutal, and teams definitely aren't immune to that. After several weeks chasing components around France, we turned up to the race. I don't know if it was the fact that it was March, or maybe because we were new, but it didn't really feel like the real deal to me. It felt like a dry run. Like new shoes that are yet to feel like your own, life in a new team can feel somewhat disjointed as everyone settles into their roles. I think the riders felt a sense of that, too. For Thibault, it was a new team that happened very last minute. It was Aimi's first ever World Cup and there is a huge learning curve associated with that. Not just in terms of the track, features and speed, but also the procedures and figuring out how the weekend functions. Then, of course, it was Ben's first weekend leading the team, as well as doing his normal video commitments.

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What happens after you burn the candle at both ends and end up with a wax bonfire on the floor? That's how Northern runs things.

Pinkbike Racing. You know it.
Where as I was misplacing quite important parts...

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... And letting Aimi's superstitions get the better of me.

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"What have I done?!"

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Thibault came on to the team quite late, but his talent shone through and he made the V10 his own immediately.

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Wham. Bam.

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Thibault's position is always just so strong and purposeful. He's brought more than just racing to this team and has been a fantastic role model for the younger riders.

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Ben suffered an impinged nerve at Lourdes and it made compressions equal parts painful and dangerous.

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Maybe I'm biased, but I think our kit is one of the best.

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White jerseys for racing made it feel just that bit extra special. When the white went on there was nothing left to do but give it hell.

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Aimi soaked up experience in Lourdes and her ability to cope with adversity was very impressive from day one.



Round 2 - Fort William - Familiar Territory

After the disjointed is this really happening? experience of Lourdes, we took a big step forward for Fort William. We were nowhere near perfect, and I think the point of progress is that you never really get there, regardless of how much you try, but you just have to keep trying all the same. We had some good days in Innerleithen testing and were joined by our fourth rider, Jackson Connelly.

Jackson fit the culture of the team like a glove and it wasn't long before him and Thibault went all in on 2 BFF Pandora bracelets. Jackson and his can-do yet irreverent take on the world was the thing we didn't know we were missing.

We came into Fort William without expectations, but we certainly left with them. Jackson knew he was on pace coming back from shoulder surgery, Aimi announced herself as somebody who not only could be but was a genuine podium contender, and Thibault left knowing he had the speed, if only not the result to prove it. That weekend was like a tectonic shift within Ben's psyche, too. I think he realised that old flame hadn't died and he was still sheltering the precious red embers of his ambition.

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Aimi was operating on another frequency in Fort William.

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Jackson joined us in Fort William and he's been calling us dogs ever since.

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Thibault was showing strong pace all weekend, including a fantastic showing in timed training.

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However, a crash in qualifying meant he didn't make the cut. The speed was there though.

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Scotland isn't quite Australia... you dogs.

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The tighty whities looking "dope", I believe.

Aimi Kenyon. Photo by Ross Bell.
The juniors race around mid-morning. Aimi's result gave the whole team a massive uplift. Third in her second World Cup.

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There are far worse places that Fort Bill to ride in the wet.

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Big Daddy Giraffo.

Ben Cathro. Photo by Andy Vathis.
A great run meant spending some time on the hot seat for Ben.

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"Ya's f*ckin' see that?!"

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As unaccustomed as we all were to the eventuality of podiums, Aimi almost missed it, and would have done if it wasn't for her mum running back after hearing the announcement on the loudspeakers.

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Lourdes felt a million miles away from here.



Round 3 - Leogang - What Goes Up, Must Come Down

It felt like Fort William was a smash and grab for the team. One minute we were trundling up through the Scottish Highlands in a Luton Van without really knowing what lay ahead, the next we were driving away with some genuinely strong results. For me, and this might sound like something lifted out of a new age glorified stretch session, which I believe some call "yoh-ga", but it was a meaningful experience for me, and meaningful experiences make it all worth while.

Leogang however, was the antithesis. All the riders were battling one adversity or another and it never really felt like we got up to speed. Ben was ill, Jackson crashed in a near season-ending fashion and Thibault had an unfortunate front-wheel-wash coming onto the wooden step down. It wasn't that Thibault needed good luck, but rather the absence of bad luck. Even Aimi didn't feel like she was enjoying her riding in the same way as Fort William, battle on as she might.

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It's with great irony that for years we raced on bone dry bike park at Leogang and then as soon as they make this amazing natural course it shits it down every time.

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You may have seen that video of the unfortunate soul who loses a pedal and has to foot plant off the Red Bull wooden bridge. Well, that was Jackson. Worse still, it left him with a broken wrist.

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Aimi didn't quite find her Fort William form in Leogang. However, it would be returning later in the year in some style.

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Thibault also had a race to forget. You can hear the pain in his voice as he screamed his frustration. Something had to give.



Round 4 - Lenzerheide - Here Comes the Sun

Lenzerheide felt different, not least because it was a dry race at long last. Coming into the season there was such an atmosphere of pessimism about the first race in France happening in what was still technically winter. However, it transpired that winter in France was far more welcoming and hospitable that the summer months of Scotland or Austria.

The Lenzerheide venue is just fantastic. It overlooks a lake, there's high speed wifi and the accommodation is both close and of a decent quality. There were coffee shops and bakeries where you're lucky enough to merely pay 15 schmeckles and a well used kidney for a fancy pants coffee in a disposable cup. Luxury.

It also felt like something of a resurgence within the team. Thibault F***ing Laly came firing on all cylinders and managed to be the first ever PBR rider to feature on the live stream. It was a very surreal moment. It felt strange, almost weird to hear the commentators talk about our riders and our team as if they were a real thing, instead of something that we struggled and toiled with but didn't exist outside the fall walls of our own environment. We were all enormously happy for Thibault. Heavens knows he deserved it. Aimi also returned to form with a fifth place. I think this was another important moment for Aimi. She wasn't merely competitive because she knew the track or because it was wet. She was competitive because she absolutely deserves to be on merit alone.

With Jackson out injured, we also got to welcome Leona Pierrini to the team. She slotted straight in and, by the end of the weekend had us scratching our heads - why didn't this rider have a fully fledged team supporting her? To qualify at a World Cup on a new frame that you've never ridden and that has a components list that you have absolutely zero experience with is quite a fantastic achievement. Her attitude was also absolutely top-brass, too.

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Coming back up.

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The King.

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Some riders were getting the high line.

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Others not so much (sorry Cathro).

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Thibault feeling like his old self.

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Group B girls-only huck laps were go.

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Right at home.

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Every race we were getting to know our kit better and better. Ben went for a slightly higher ride height in Lenzerheide and we felt it was a step in the right direction.

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Cathro was riding well, but still struggling with the consequences of illness. He just missed out on the main event.

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One of my favourite shots of the year - a portrait of Leona.

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Leona making the V10 work for straight off the bat. She came away with an impressive 12th place.

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Thibault came home in 29th on the day.

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Aimi's appetite for huge hucks has come on tenfold over the course of the season.

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And onto the next one.



As the dust continues to settle, stay tuned in the coming days for Part 2, plus an update on all things PBR.

Author Info:
henryquinney avatar

Member since Jun 3, 2014
324 articles

33 Comments
  • 42 0
 It's been an inspiration seeing, watching and reading everything this year!
  • 23 0
 Just 1 question, why is Team pink bike on a yellow bike? I see myself out... take care yall
  • 30 0
 Just briliant. That photo of Leona, mega!
After, "I don't do jumps", every time I see Aimi sending it it raises a smile.

I can't remember the last time I was this invested in something I wasn't a part of.

What. A. Team.
  • 23 0
 Get that Cathro guy a raise!
  • 1 0
 And put him on Pinkbike Academy. Better yet, make Pinkbike Academy about DH instead of Enduro and add the winner to this team!
  • 1 0
 @burnerAccount: honestly the ways things are going pinkbike academy is probably going to be like for something not even speed related like an influencer contrant.
  • 4 0
 @gangster-jacob: Don't get me wrong, PBR and PBA are very different, but I think both have their place. Let's not forget the not inconsiderable success the winners of PBA have enjoyed so far. The best thing is though, this town is big enough for the both of 'em.
  • 1 0
 Give that man a lot of money!
  • 18 0
 @ben-cathro @henryquinney This whole season of pinkbike racing was the best content on here. Big thumbs up to everyone who poured their heart and soul into producing the videos, writing articles and pulled all the strings on the background to make the magic happen.
  • 10 0
 Ben Cathro: the only thing universally liked by people in the Pinkbike comments sections.
  • 9 0
 I agree that your kit is one of the BEST! I must say that some are really awfull, even some of the biggest teams...
  • 8 0
 Pinkbike racing is the best thing since sliced bread. Keep it up!
  • 3 0
 Barely started readin and already a good laugh about broccoli... Good job Henry! Great job to everyone involved in the project!
  • 5 0
 Good job with the words there Henry.
  • 3 0
 That’s what I came to say too. Really enjoyed the photos and writing! PBR team has done a killer job all year and thank goodness DH ain’t dead!!!
  • 2 0
 Loved all the PBR stuff! It makes you wonder why more factory teams aren't doing something similar. They must have the resources for it, and it would give them so much coverage beyond race days.
  • 3 0
 Have been enjoying this PBR coverage Salute
  • 2 0
 Henry’s next disaster is to crowdsource frame graphics via PB comments. Looking forward to seeing what off season brings.
  • 2 0
 Why are the Fox 40 graphics taken off?
  • 5 0
 I think they were waiting on their Ohlins sponsorship to come through with forks.
  • 29 0
 We received our Ohlins parts a little later than planned at the back end of our test camp before the first round. Subsequently, Ohlins kindly said we had the freedom to run the parts we know for Lourdes before coming to Fort William with some solid testing under our belt and running their stuff.
  • 1 0
 @henryquinney: Ride on! you guy's kick ass, I love seeing coverage of the races from you.
  • 12 0
 @henryquinney: that’s so cool getting to hear some of the behind the scene stuff that other teams don’t talk about, let’s fans feel like their more apart of everything
  • 3 1
 man city supporters taking stray bullets
  • 1 0
 Those were aimed, not stray. hahaha
  • 3 0
 Cathro for president Smile
  • 2 0
 Such an awesome idea, thank you to everyone who made this happen!
  • 2 0
 Kit and bike both look mint. Styling and profiling!
  • 1 0
 Next year's PBR kit should definitely add a Pabst Blue Ribbon nod to the OG ;-) I dare ya!
  • 2 1
 are white kits disposable after a muddy run?
  • 6 0
 Pressure wash and they come back pretty much as good as new! Super suprised how well the riders have done to be honest.
  • 1 0
 We will see Ben on the grim donut next year, right?
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