"When you have a dream, you need to follow it. This is what Yoann did and now he's one of the top EWS athletes in the world and living that dream. The fast frenchman is easy to get along with and let's his riding speak for itself."
Who is Yoann Barelli?
I'm a mountain biker, I love to ride any bikes on any trails. I love to push my limits, it helps me to better understand who I am and what I am capable of achieving. In general, I'm a very happy person, I really like being a clown (I'm actually my biggest fan when it comes to that), and I never take myself too seriously.
Long story short, I just love life and the simple things, I'm easy. Where are you from and where do you live?
I'm from Nice (France), I grew up in Peille, right beside Fabien Barel and Nico Vouilloz. My brother Nicolas Filippi (XC junior world Champion in 1999) started to ride MTB at the same time as Fabien in 1993, so I basically tried to follow them where ever they were riding, ha ha ha.
I'm now living in Whistler because of a girl (what a terrible place to live, seriously, ha ha ha!) And now, after 2 years of being here, I realize that Canada's lifestyle suits me way better than the French one did. Who do you ride for?
Well, I ride for myself, what a silly question, ha! I ride because I love it, I ride because it's the way I've found to express myself the best. I also ride for Giant, SRAM, RockShox, Ride 100%, Schwalbe, ODI, forbike clothing, MRP, HT, and Re-fuel. Where are you happiest?
I'm the happiest in the forest. Try to picture some big pine trees, some moss on the ground, some dark loamy dirt, a really gnarly trail with rocks and roots everywhere... that's it, don't go further, that's my happy place. What’s been your favourite race/contest venue?
The Sea Otter for sure... no, I'm joking, I hate that race haha!
I would like to say that it's an EWS but it's not... It's probably one of the DH world cups that I've done in the past and Val Di Sole in 2012 was for sure one of my best memories. This track is insane, I love it... I miss that a little bit. Where are your favourite trails?
My favorite trails are in Squamish and Pemberton, but I also love what the Alps have to offer, long, steep, and really natural trails. What are your strengths?
Probably the fact that I'm a really easy-going person, I don't need a lot to be stoked. It's a big help to be happy in life. What are your weaknesses?
When I don't like something (which is rare but it happens), I become extremely bad at it, it's as if all of me starts to reject this thing, haha! What’s been your worst crash over the years?
Well, it's not a crash, in particular, it's more a kind of crash... you know the one that, as soon as you hit the ground you can't breathe, and it lasts so freaking long... You have no control of anything, you just have to wait. I hate this kind, it's the worst. It happened to me recently at the Mega during practice... Ouch, not the best moment. What’s been your luckiest escape?
It was back in 2012 / 2013, I was working in Decathlon (a big sports store in France), I was managing the cycling part of it and racing DH and a bit of enduro at the same time.
At the end of 2012, I was almost ready to quit chasing my dream of being a professional mountain biker but something deep inside told me to keep trying. I decided to start racing enduro (at this time, for me enduro racing was only Megavalanche and Maxiavalanche) and by the end of 2012 Giant France believed in me and gave me one frame, and one bike to complete the 2013 season. At the same time, the EWS was created and I jumped right into it.
I did the whole season, paying for all my travels and parts, working my ass off to afford it... Mid season I realized that if I wanted to get some better results (which could help me sign a pro contract), I needed to stop working, to be more focused at the races and also to be fresh for each event. It was kind of a big deal for me... leaving a comfortable living style and losing my job (which is kind of sketchy in France right now because there aren't a lot of job opportunities), or taking the risk to follow my kid dream. I took the risk, I stopped working, and then I was only eating pasta for 3 months because I had no more money. But I made it, my results got better, and I did one top 10 in the EWS that year and bim bam boom, at the end of the 2013 season I signed my first ever professional contract with the Giant Factory Off-Road Team!
f*ck Yeah! Which bike from over the years, conjures up the best memories?
The Reign without any doubt, it's the bike that brought me to where I am today, and it is still the bike that I am riding almost every day. It's a fun, easy bike that rides down the trails like a DH bike. I love my Reign. What bikes are you riding right now?
I ride all Giant bikes; STP, TCX (only in the bike park), Anthem, Reign and Glory. Who’s your favourite rider?
Eddie Master since his run at Fort Williams this year! I'm serious, really, he was just going for it, and even if it didn't pay off, even if it didn't go has planned, he gave it all and he put all his heart into those first 4 corners.
I'm also kind of fascinated by how Richie Rude dominates the EWS right now... I think it's awesome, haha! Who or what inspires you?
In every sport there is always one guy at some point, that's gonna be way faster or way better than everyone else, it happens all the time. Sebastien Loeb in Rally car racing, Usain Bolt in Sprinting, Killian Jornet in trail running, Nico Vouilloz and Anne Caro Chausson in DH, Michael Phelps, in swimming, Richie Rude in enduro, Brandon Semenuk in Slope style and many many others in lots of different sports. All these people have or had something more that others don't or didn't have. That's what inspires me, that's what pushes me to become a better rider every day, they are the ones who make every sport grow faster. And then one day, the names change, it's some other person that takes over the relay. I like it. What do you enjoy doing away from bikes?
I love hiking and adventuring, BC is such a rad place for that, it's unlimited. I really enjoy hanging out with animals, it doesn't take much to make them happy, I think we are a bit similar haha. What are you listening to right now?
I kind of listen to everything, really. What’s your favourite movie/ TV show?
Planet Earth. What’s your favourite non-bike website?
The Weather Network
in the Winter. What’s your favourite motto or saying?
Full gazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! What grinds your gears?
Paperwork, selfish people, and Remy Metailler haha. What makes you happy?
What makes me really happy, is to see and feel that people around me are happy. I like to see smiles on faces, it makes me happy. If you weren’t a pro mountain biker, what would you be doing?
Well, it's been a while since I realized that I'm really easy in front of a camera, I like to act and being a goof, so I think I would love to be an actor. I'm not saying that I would be a great actor, but I would try at least. Who knows, I'm 30 years old, it's not too late ha ha. If you were in charge of the sport, what changes would you make?
I would try to bring more media into it, have the World Cup DH and Slope Style events live on regular TV channels. The whole sport would get more visibility and would touch way more people. Extra sponsors would get involved and then more athletes would be able to make a living out of it.
I would also make everyone ride the 28,2-inch wheels, I did a bunch of testing and man, it is so much faster, I improved all my times by 0,127% When you hang up your racing/ riding shoes, how do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a guy that always did what he wanted, a funny guy, and a shredder! What does the future hold for Yoann Barelli?
Who knows and who cares, I will always live my life to the fullest and follow its flow.
Follow Yoann on Pinkbike at www.pinkbike.com/u/yoannbarelli
and on Instagram
/ @ride100percent / @SramMedia
/ @davetrump / @mattwragg