This weekend saw Reece Wilson racing in the British National Downhill race in Innerleithen, Scotland. This was, in fact, the first time Reece has raced in the UK since becoming World Champion so it was quite apt that it was his home race. We caught Reece for a chat on a busy race weekend to get the World Champ's opinions on a few things.
So Reece, first time racing back here in Scotland as World Champion, how does it feel?
Yeah, it's really good. It's unfortunately been really wet this weekend again in Scotland but it's honestly so cool to be back. It's been quite a busy meeting, I mean I don't think we've had restricted entries and it was still fully booked almost instantly online. It's a good sign the sport's in a good place. I've really enjoyed myself, I managed to get five runs in yesterday. The track was amazing which I really appreciate a good track and line choice.
A busy day for you as well so you snuck off for a COVID test for Maribor?
Yeah, it's been a busy day. I managed to rush back, literally got myself changed and as I jumped in the van, the last uplift was going up with the elites on so managed to make my race run. So no practice today, just pulled the bike out from yesterday and hung up a run.
The Elite Field in the UK has maybe dwindled a little over the last few years. As World Champ how important does it feel to you to be back here racing with the rest of the guys?
You know it's really difficult, when you race an entire season on the World Cup circuit there's a lot of pressure when you’re away so to come back, and you only have a week or two weeks, when all you want to do is rest, but there's a national on and you have to keep going. It's difficult for us to sometimes go back. It's so important for elites and experts at the top of their level to come and push other riders on at these things, it does add prestige to the event and it gives the kids an opportunity to see where the benchmark is for the future. So that's probably the coolest part of it.
I spoke to Roger and Cathro, and they were saying it pushes them on having you here. Did you feel you had a bit of target on your back?
Absolutely, ever since I won World Champs that target feels like it's well and truly painted on there in permanent marker. I've honestly been enjoying it, but that's just the way it is. Ben [Cathro] is always so good at these days, I knew Lewis [Buchanan] was going to have a good time, Roger [Vieira] has been doing so well this year. So having no practice today it really was anybody's game so I when I was up there I got a few nerves.
How are you feeling after your big crash in Les Gets, are you rested up and feeling better?
I’ve still got a really stiff neck to be honest, it's really plagued me and now I can't really get my head to the left very well so I'm still actually feeling it. Considering how big the crash was that is understandable but other than that, I'm really well. I'm just excited to get to race and actually get going again. It's been a long month off.
How important do you think it is that the sport looks at how people come back from crashes, particularly head injuries? Do you think we still need to grow a bit and understand a bit more?
Yeah, in my opinion there's loads of room to be developed. You look at rugby and football. When those guys are signed at a team and they have an injury, they're taken off the course and they're dealt with through team physios. If surgery is required, it's all dealt with in-house and in team and then they're held on a bench until they're ready to go. Whereas our sport, you kind of get a lift to the airport, a high five and asked when you'll be back. Then that's kind of it. It's up to the rider to deal with everything from there on out, and it's up to them to decide to come back. But when you're not making any money, you're sat at home and you feel like you're rushed, well, people come back too soon. That's a major factor that I think a lot of the riders feel they need to come back when they probably shouldn't, they should probably have another week or two off. So yeah, there's definitely room to work with there but it's a tricky one.
It’s Maribor this weekend. How do you feel about being back at World Cups?
Yeah, World Cups are always crazy and this year we're so condensed. We've got six weeks at the start, then we've just had this month off with the Olympics which absolutely sucks in my opinion as I was just getting into stuff. I was just getting into my race at Les Gets and starting to find a bit of flow but then you need to come home and have a month or nothing.
It really splits the season but it's like a little restart if you need to come home and get yourself gathered back up again, which I feel like I've done and I'm excited to get to Maribor. I really want to get another one on the board this year. We’ve got some good tracks coming up at World Champs and then Val de Sole, so plenty to look forward to.