Gas To Flat - At Home with Adam Brayton

Apr 26, 2017
by Nathan Hughes  



Of all the great many mysteries shrouded deep in the depths of the MTB scene, one surely stands out for any downhill rider above all others as the most elusive: how does a racer really 'make the big time'? How does somebody somehow find themselves at the upper end of the elite field, scrapping it out with the Athertons and the Minnaars of this world, finally getting those massive results they always dreamed of? There has to be some x-factor that takes you to the next level... Qualifying alone is one thing, but to then grace the top 30, the dizzy heights of the top 10... the podium? Well, those guys must be from a whole other planet.

This off-season, Pinbike wanted to know more and could think of no better way to investigate this all-but-unimaginable phenomenon of 'making it' as a WC racer than to pay a visit to Her Majesty's North West and the little town of Keswick. Danny Hart might have stolen the limelight in 2016, but all the while there was another Englishman flying in under the radar, putting big points on the board. After two recent train-wreck seasons and many more before it, struggling for mid-pack positions, a podium finish and 10th overall in the WC series were sure signs something special was going down. There was an under-dog finally on top; the man of a thousand nicknames, Adam Brayton. Maybe 48 hours with 'the Kestrel' himself would shed a little light on a few secret tips for the top...



Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory
Welcome to the winding roads of the Lake District, a national park area of outstanding natural beauty just a little way short of the Scottish border.


Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesMy name's Adam Brayton, also known as 'Gas to Flat', the 'Keswick Kestrel', 'Leatherhead'... erm, 'Romeo'... my dad gave me that one. I've got a lot of nicknames, I'm not sure if it's good! I'm 28 years young, from the Lake District, the real North of England. A former electrician, turned fishing god, with a side of downhill racing, MX and maybe a bit of old-fashioned womanising in between.Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesI think the whole bike thing started in about 2000 for me. My earliest role models were my brother and his friends, Gary, Nelson, Rizla, building ramps and jumps in the woods... some mad stuff went down when I look back. I remember having a distance comp off a tree stump and Nelson dived in front of my brother when he was in mid-air saying 'jump meeeeee!!'. My brother landed on Nelson's arse with a triple chainring. Triple chainrings were cool back then.AB

Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton homestory

bigquotesBeing the middle brother means you're brought up tough. Me and my older bro, Ben, had some good old ding-dongs growing up... always was too strong for him though and he got a couple of hidings. I hope he doesn't read this... ever. Haha. No we all get on well, I couldn't tell you a time when we actually did fall out. They're right behind me with my race career, they always do as much as they can to help no matter what it is. I think they know, ultimately, I will join them working at the yard one day, so maybe they'll give me a hard time then and make me pay for all the years of having it 'easy'AB

Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesI've been around on the World Cup scene my fair share of years trying to 'catch my break' if you will. The history begins just over 10 years ago in '06, racing second year juniors on a Kona Stab Supreme for Keswick Bikes. The next year I raced 4 Euro World Cups and got a 6th at Champery. In 2008 I moved to Pila and rode the full season for Playbiker Ironhorse, before a short, injury-riddled season on Just Reid Racing. For 2010 and '11 I went to Banshee for a fresh start, but not much success, except for a bronze at national champs in Llangollen. 2012 wasn't a bad year - I got 2 BDS wins and took second overall, but the World Cups were still looking grim. After that I signed for Hope who I'm obviously still happy to be with today. I kicked-off 2013 on a carbon Demo and got off to a good start winning a BDS, but broke my collarbone at Fort William. Still I managed to come back with a couple of top 30s at the World Cup. 2014 and 2015... what can I say? They sucked. 2016 was the one!AB

Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam's Hope HB211 enduro bike and Scott Gambler taking pride of place in his father's workshop just outside of town.


Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam and trainer, John, up with the lark, as usual, to train at the Fit4Racing facility near Penrith.

bigquotesI hardly know where to start in explaining the whole cross-fit thing, but I'll never forget the first time I went. My friend, Jonny Walker (Pro Enduro MX rider), was on at me every week saying you need to come. Anyway I kept putting it off and putting it off and he cracks this Rocky 3 'there is no tomorrow' quote on me and I ended up going and experiencing the worst hour or so of my life. I thought I was going to turn up and blitz it. I thought I was fit....AB


Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton
Brayton squats as his heart rate probably tips 200bpm.

bigquotesIt's gnarly what we do. The best part is obviously the reward, but this has become an addiction for me. You go only one of two ways; you're either in or you're out, there's no half-way house. I've watched it break great riders of other disciplines. If they brought half the tenacity they showed on track to the gym they'd be unstoppableAB

Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesMy coach tried to break me... actually he did break me, but I asked myself if I wanted to be successful and knew this is what I had to doAB

Adam Brayton Homestory
No two workouts end up the same on Adam's program, but chin-ups, exercise bike sprints, rowing machine, squats, deadlifts, burpees, kettlebells, medicine ball, ski-ergo and the dreaded 'sack of sorrow' are the usual suspects. He and his training buddies, just 3 or 4 UK MX riders, push each other harder every session, three times per week. The door stays wide open to let in the winter air and keep the overworked engines from overheating.

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesI think if you can handle the workload it makes you feel invincible, that's the only word I can use to describe it. Another thing I should mention is that for the guys I train with, 'competitive' would be an understatement. When we're given a work-out no one wants to lose. It's intenseAB

Adam Brayton Homestory
Brayton tucks into the full English.... Lord knows he's earned it. Eggs and avocados alone are his more typical training breakfast, providing minimal carbs and maximum protein before a session.

Adam Brayton Homestory
No rest for the wicked, it was time for a trip to the countryside... well 'other' countryside for a little motocross.

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory


bigquotesI'll be honest; I kind of fell out with the MX bike in recent years. It was only after getting my new KTM I got keen again. I had a 2014 SXF before and wasn't that bothered about riding it, but then I sorted a fork and shock off Ohlins and basically they would only fit a 2016 onwards so I had to get a new one. Then my mate Jamie Law was back racing again this season and he started cross-fit training with us so I ended up doing a lot more riding than usual and loving it again.AB


Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesLuckily I made friends with a guy called Dan Holliday who has a private sand track so me and Jamie often head over after the gym. Anyone will tell you how different it is to riding downhill, but my track skills are coming on slowly. There's also a local club round I race every season at the start of the year, it's good to get behind the gate. I'd like to do more, but MX isn't putting any bread on the table!AB

Adam Brayton Homestory
A self-confessed 'not very good' MX rider, we think he's just about got the basics down...

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory
Finally getting to jump a section of big doubles after several weeks of thinking about it, progress was palpable.

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton Homestory
As with a lot of the top DH racers, motocross plays an important role in Brayton's season preparation. There seems to be few better ways to get accustomed to high speed and finding grip while taking arm-pump tolerance to the next level. Plus it's pretty fun, don't you know...


Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesThe lake at the end of a long day is about the ultimate unwind around here and the prospect of that big catch always has me coming back for more.AB

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesI dread to think what I'd be doing if I wasn't racing, I never thought I'd get as far as I have. I left school at 16 to become an electrician and every penny I made went on bikes and racing. Maybe a pro fisherman if I had a choice, but going off my recent trips I think that would be a short-lived career. You wouldn't be seeing me on the Discovery ChannelAB

Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton Homestory
With the failure of even 'the vampire', Brayton's favourite fishing lure, time was up and we went home empty handed. He always does, because he lets them go, but you take our meaning...

Adam Brayton Homestory
A campfire on the island to complete the night. It's a place not unfamiliar to Brayton's lucky dates. We too counted our blessings.

Adam Brayton Homestory
Dinner. It had to be.

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesI might be biased and I probably am, but the Lakes are the best. People invite me down to various different spots over the off-season and they all sound great, but I always say no. Not being funny, but I feel like I have everything I need right here already. I did fancy Canada after my ex sacked me off a while back, but I wasn't expecting 2016 to be the season it was. I did a month in Canada and I'll be honest; I couldn't handle it! I had a good time, but Whistler just about finished me off. The lakes will always be home for me.AB

Adam Brayton Homestory
A 5.30am rise and we were climbing the 451m of Hause Gate as the sky turned from deep blue to bright pink. If you find yourself in the area, you have to check out Brayton's top recommendation - the Borrowdale Bash - a 17-mile hilltop lap of Derwentwater.

Adam Brayton Homestory


bigquotesI’m definitely proud to be British; I love a good cup of tea and since I stopped eating sweets, the brew has firmly taken its place. I think the Monarchy is cool and yes we certainly have our successes at the races... there’s so many amazing UK riders it's a bit of a miracle, isn't it?! I think it must be the British mentality; we just get on with it. After all, you can only p*ss with the c*ck you’ve got, right? So we race on the same 2 minute tracks year in, year out, that haven't changed, yet somehow hold it down as the most dominant country in the World Cup.AB


Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesShort tracks make for good, tight racing and the average level is so high. 4 or 5 runs on a Saturday forces you to learn tracks fast and then we bring that intensity to the WC and it seems to work. People will say ‘we have Fort William’ like it's our local, yet probably 90% of UK racers are 5 or 6 hours from it and ride it the same amount as Phil from Brazil!AB

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesIn truth, both the enduro and road bikes have taken a serious backseat in my routine. Having said that I mean I have been around the lake once this year, so that's a big 10 miles of solid road ticked off! I went pretty hard the last couple of years with Strava and stuff, think I burned myself out slightly. Plus, after cross-fit you're totally smoked; you'd be a liability on a road bike after that.  I got my Hope HB211 over Christmas so I've been going up Whinlatter (trail-centre) and doing a little bit of trail bike, but again nothing too crazy. I'm so gym specific now. I got some CX races done over winter they're good fun and the North East series is really competitive and good crackAB

Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory
Brayton will be the first to tell you he's not the flashiest to grace a bike, but you can be absolutely sure whatever picture you see of him he would have been pinning it goddam quick.

Adam Brayton Homestory
The Lakes provide no shortage of enviable trails, although many are shared with the hikers. Setmurthy Woods has held a decent official spot for a number of years with a host of jump lines, but there has never been anything shuttle-able in the vicinity for a racer of Brayton's calibre to get his teeth into... until now.

Adam Brayton
Come play with us...

Adam Brayton Homestory
A stealthy uplift machine with invisibility cloak activated... Brayton and his small crew bought an old jeep purely to uplift their track and keep it hidden in the woods from the 'marras' (gypsies to you and me). All this old beauty needs is a reverse bump-start and it runs like a charm... 10,15 maybe even 20 laps in a day. One small problem still had to be overcome, however; the fact there was no road to the top of this steep and water-logged hill. Over the winter months they've 'driven one in'... and, yes, it is every bit as sketchy as it sounds.

Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesWelcome to PLDN... that's 'Papa Larone's Downhill Nation' if you're wondering. It's a nonsense name I made up for an ongoing project I can't say too much about. We're keeping it tight-lipped; nice and low-key. It' just four lads buying in on something we thought we'd never be lucky enough to have; our own private DH track. It's a huge asset and hopefully the missing piece of my puzzle for 2017.AB

Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton
Adam Brayton

bigquotesI love digging, I always have and I think it's a good string to your bow if you can build good stuff - I think it helps to read other trails.  I think making a good track is a black art and I think mine are good! Anyway, I'm not shy to pick up a spade and it's nice not having to hide tools so well you never find them again!AB

Adam Brayton Homestory
Brayton and good buddy, Jason Shill, push the last few meters to the top of their own creation with one epic backdrop.

Adam Brayton Homestory


bigquotesPeople often ask what kind of 'clicked' for me at the races this past season. I'd say there were two major changes: Firstly my training was the biggest change... my work ethic was upped and became very specific. This gave me massive confidence without even realising at the time. Then I changed to Scott bikes and the Gambler suited me a lot. I don't have much style; I hit the main line and I keep it simple. The Gambler likes to bulldoze stuff and I have the strength so the results started to come naturally and Fort William did my confidence no harm. The girls love a top 5 haha!AB


Adam Brayton

bigquotesAlso I suppose you could say I manned-up... grew a pair! I started jumping into stuff, and not asking all the questionsAB


Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesThe end of last year was a little crazy; for the season ahead I basically had 3 great offers on the table, not including Hope, and there was really good money on offer, but I didn't get that excitement or 'the buzz' as I like to call it.AB

Adam Brayton Homestory
Is there anything more formidable than a top-level WC racer on their own, self-built, home track. No, there is not. Brayton pushes both his riding and his building skills on every turn and tranny.

bigquotesA lot of people said it's good that I've stayed loyal to Hope. I mean let's be honest, I barely set the world alight the past couple of seasons in terms of results... I was hardly a top 30 guy! So it was a great feeling to finally give something back in 2016. It's not like I felt I had to stay ay Hope, they would have supported my decision whatever, I'm just very content there. I love our relationship and being comfortable and happy is the most important part. Hope to me is family, there is a far bigger picture than turning up for a race each weekendAB

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesWhat does my future hold? Who knows. I don't tend to look too far ahead, I'll get today out the way. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and having fun. I'm very content. 10 or 20 years down the line I couldn't possibly say, except for saving big fish from drowning... Retired. Big empire. Sorted.AB


Adam Brayton Homestory

Adam Brayton Homestory
Adam Brayton Homestory

bigquotesEveryone who's helped me knows who they are. I was very fortunate for Hope to take me on back in 2013 and from then on I've been able to do things I never even dreamed of so thank you to them and everyone that's been a part of this adventure, big and small.Adam Brayton

Adam Brayton Homestory
Brayton: Out.

67 Comments

  • + 181
 Brayton, you rule! Hope to see you on some podiums this year boss.
  • + 17
 Couldn't agree more!
  • + 10
 Hope so too! (no puns intended)
  • + 5
 Definitely cheering for you! You deserve it. Brraaaapp!
  • + 63
 Great photography!
  • + 3
 My thoughts exactly. Stunning!
  • + 32
 When he's on the live feed I'm always excited and scared at the same time. He goes all out, give no f*ck !!
  • + 28
 I had fully expected AB to move to a bigger team in 2017. Kudos to him for keeping it real and staying the course with Hope.
  • + 4
 It's also not surprising that he's on Öhlins. Perfect match
  • + 21
 Seems like the most badass person I´ve ever heard about. Great article, wording, photography, love stuff like this. Best of luck Adam!
  • + 15
 I enjoyed that! I remember seeing bray at the caersws uplift in, must've been 2009 now. Jeez. He's beefed up now. He's right though lake District is mint (Kendal mint)
  • + 14
 The photos are astonishing. I knew the Lakes District was pretty but this was nek level.
  • + 14
 I grew chest hair just reading this. #men #sweat #lookingnatmyshitheapbody #cryingnow
  • + 40
 and then you lost some by hashtagging things...
  • + 6
 @nvranka: #damnit #hesrightyouknow
  • + 12
 Some of the best photography I've seen on pinkbike. You crushed it by pairing it with an article that really dug into the psyche of AB. Keep up the great work.
  • + 10
 I saw him in Val Di Sole. He is unmistakable to spot. The whole mountain shakes as he passes by. You just see a racing kit with green details and hear that sound the poor bike is making when it is smashed mercilessly into the forest floor and you know it's Adam Brayton. He may not win against a super smooth cat like Minnaar but he is just a blast to watch. Bang! Bang! Bang!
  • + 2
 I've always thought the same about Bulldog.
  • + 15
 What a beast! Props!
  • + 8
 My buddy and I rode the lift with Adam at the Windham World Cup race two years ago. He had a northern pike sticker on his helmet so I mentioned it, not knowing who he was and having grown up fishing with my grandfather, and from there we talked about riding and racing. He told us about himself, his hometown in the Lake District and was just a really humble and cool guy. My buddy and I have been following him ever since, laughing at his practice clips from redbull hardline and seeing him have some great races, especially last year. Wishing him all the best this year!
  • + 11
 Mr.Brayton..you deserve to be on top..soon.. very soon..such an inspiration for every rider on earth..thank you..
  • + 10
 The guy is in most of my favourite ever biking videos, can't wait until he finally wins a WC race.
  • + 10
 Adam Brayton is so ripped, he's gonna need some tape!! Giver bud!!
  • + 9
 Great interview, great images and great to see another article putting the Lakes on the map!
  • + 9
 Not only a bunch of great photos but also a good mtb story. Nathan nailing it once again at mtb storytelling, kudos man.
  • + 6
 seems like the most down to earth guy, breathing racing, doing what he loves, not looking for quick money but in it for the game! All his sponsors definitely found a super authentic ambassador here which actually makes me want to buy the product just to support his effort.

Looked forward to every race run of his in 2016 and will do so again this year, Brayton f*cking rules! Big Grin
  • + 7
 Massive respect for both, rider and photographer/writer, for putting so much effort and passion into this article and their work in general! Just inspiring!! Good luck this weekend in Lourdes!!!
  • + 9
 One of the best articles on PB for a while!
  • + 6
 legend.. i saw him him race in the mates race in whistler 3 years ago one eve... astounding bike skills.. not just smashing it. He plays himself down.
  • + 7
 Due to succeed , deserves to succeed
  • + 7
 Awesome story, what a humble guy.
  • + 3
 Great interview, stunning images and great to see another article putting the Lake District on the map! Check out Lakesmtb.co.uk to see more of the best riding and trails in the world.
  • + 6
 Great article, awesome photos. Cheers!
  • + 3
 Great article--one of the few I've read to the bottom lately. Quite the sponsors this guy has--beautiful machines. Too bad about the womanizing thing, but otherwise love this guy
  • + 2
 This was a great read, especially as I read it after we came home a week in the Lakes, awesome place and immense rider! I've had one of those Suzuki vitara 4x4s they're shite on everything apart from mud and snow!!haha Cool boat too, I was looking at them on Coniston too
  • + 3
 I was expecting good things from Brayton this year and after reading this I reckon he is gonna deliver them, Gas to Flat and then some.
  • + 5
 one of the illest...mr gas2flat
  • + 6
 Eski-Boi!!
  • + 3
 haha, great earthed reference dude
  • + 4
 Nathan Hughes has got the SKILLZ!!!
  • + 3
 Further proof that Brayton is a Golden God. So hope he has another great year.
  • + 5
 Dudes a beast!
  • + 3
 Sick article, sick rider. Getting super pumper for the World Cup races to start.
  • + 3
 Everyone tarps off...unnecessary.
  • + 4
 Great interview
  • + 2
 those brakes look killer Smile
  • + 3
 Eski boi
  • + 3
 Beautiful pictures!
  • + 2
 Great write up. That's a guy I'd like to have a beer with.
  • + 3
 He doesn't drink!
  • + 2
 @rideonjon: Well then... I'll drink. He can do whatever Brits do. Tea, I guess.
  • + 2
 Absolute legend, what amazing photography here too!
  • + 1
 Looks like he's been preparing for a role in the next 300 film.
  • + 1
 Nathan is a Jedi! Can't find a bad shot.
  • + 1
 Nice 'Jeep'. I hope he didn't pay Jeep price for the thing
  • + 1
 Saw him play in esholt woods - he killed it
  • + 2
 2017 year of the marra!
  • + 1
 The fork on that #55 is not so...sheep Wink
  • + 1
 Awesome article thanks
  • - 1
 Keswick is not the UK's North West
  • + 9
 Has it moved up into Scotland ?
  • + 4
 The north of England has not moved up into Scotland. Its basic fucking geography. Americans couldn't point to Iraq on a map of Iraq.
  • + 3
 It is England's north west. The UK's north west is Scotland's west.
  • + 0
 Until you monkees vote 'remain' it is. ;-)
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