An Irish Lizard in Malaga

Aug 7, 2018 at 14:32
by Yaroslav Alpizar  

Nathan, an irish rider often found in Malaga, Spain, jumping all around on his rear wheel. With a strong trials background Nathan is not afraid of sketchy techical sections on trails. Friendly, talkative and a skilled rider, he has participated on several EWS races with strong top50 positions. Northern Ireland champ couple of years, he has some surprises for you. In between his job as mtb guide in Andalucia, his racing duties and social media, he spent some time answering some questions to let us know more about him.

Yari: Who is Nathan McComb? Where are you from, where do you live?
Lizard: I’m from the rainy lands of Northern Ireland. After many wet and muddy rides I finally decided enough was enough and so now I live on the sunny Costa del Sol.

Yari: Why "the Lizard"? Do you remember who and when first called that way?
Lizard: In my first year racing, I had a green bike and all green kit. Team that with hanging out on rocks with my trials-y riding plus the fact that I’m double-jointed and bend like a lizard as well! It was only natural that one night around a barbeque, young Gareth Kerr, was taking the piss and called me the Lizard. And the name just stuck from there.

Yari: How and when did you started on cycling in general?
Lizard: Like everybody, I just started out as a kid. It was the first sense of freedom that I’d had. But it wasn’t until when I was about 9 years old when I started trials motorbiking that I truly found a love for two-wheel sports.

Yari: When and how did you started into MTB?
Lizard: That’s a tough one. Probably when I was in high school, a number of friends invited me along to a downhill race. I was hooked and started taking my hardtail cross country bike - that up until then I had only really ridden on roads - into the forest to ride down the gnarliest stuff I could find.

Sierra Nevada Enduro 2017
Sierra Nevada Enduro race, 2017, some rocky sections, just as the Lizard likes

Riding in Ainsa or Montanchez, having fun is what matter...and getting into the podium

Showing some skillzzz

Yari: Begining was hard?
Lizard: I wouldn’t exactly say hard. With me, it started out just going out with friends for fun, building a trail and riding it. Then my own ambitions set in and I wanted to become a better rider (trials riding). Many afternoons, I would rush home from school, get the bike and go up into my local town - where there was a number of walls and obstacles - to practice. I would call the beginning of this frustrating more than tough as I didn’t progress as fast as I wanted, with many falls and breaking bikes. My short temper would sometimes get the better of me and I’d end up throwing the bike away! But it was a good character-building time.

Yari: Which were your initial goals?
Lizard: To get good enough to start performing at shows for a local motorcycle demo team so that I could start earning money from riding bikes. And to be better than all my friends.

Yari: Are you surprised by how far have you come or it was something you expected?
Lizard: Not surprised and I still don’t think I have reached my full potential, as I’m always learning new stuff and getting more confident. Before mountain biking, there was motorcycle Trials. Can you comment on your previous experiences on that sport?
So, motorcycle trials in Ireland is a pretty small scene. I’d call it more of a family than a scene. It was great fun and I competed for about 4 years every weekend without fail, in all conditions (laughs). It taught me a lot and gave me the key bike-handling skills I needed to progress on the mountain bike. I always say: If you want to learn to do something fast, first learn how to do it slow. I had lots of fun while I was doing it, but eventually I got bored as it was the same story every weekend, competing in such a small scene.

Yari: You spend lot of time in Spain, even speak Spanish fluently. Often seen riding mainly in Malaga and Granada areas and participated on several races in the country. Can you comment on how is living and racing in Spain?
Lizard: I just love Spain. Having lived not far from Malaga and gone to a Spanish primary school when I was young, I just feel at home down here. After riding bikes for many years in the wet Irish weather, I decided to move back and I love the dry, rocky terrain.

Malaga is also a great place for me because the riding season is perfect over winter and working as a guide and in the past I have been able to get lots of work thanks to this.
It’s been great to see racing in Spain develop in recent years. There’s always a friendly atmosphere at races, they’re well organised and they always have great prizes, such as the leg of ham I won at this year’s Endurama in Montanchez.

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Yari: How is racing at elite level?
Lizard: Stressful. On the morning of a race, I often can’t eat because I feel too sick and I barely talk to anybody even from the night before due to serious ‘race head’. I put a lot of pressure on myself and sometimes I overthink things, but at the end of the day, when the wheels start rolling and I start riding at full pace, it feels natural and I’m having fun.

Yari: Which race, from the ones you've participated, consider the thoughest?
Lizard: The toughest race I’ve ever done was la Batalla de Inframundo (Battle of the Underworld) in Ainsa last year. Somehow I got mixed up and thought it was an enduro race, when it turned out to be an endurance race. After a crash about 40km into the race due to my legs cramping, I was left with no dropper-post and really struggled the last 20km where, many times I thought to myself: if I just ride off this cliff, it would all be over. All I can say is, I was glad when it was over!

Yari: So far which is the race from which you keep the best memories?
Lizard: The Enduro World Series in Ireland! The weather was great, the crowds lined each side of the track, you felt like a superhero and just wanted to let go of the breaks through every section.

Yari: And the worst memories?
Lizard: The Megavalanche in 2017, when in practice there was a problem with the lift up to qualifying. Because I suffer from a bit of vertigo (when I’m not on the bike), being in the lift as it was swinging(!!!) was absolutely, bloody terrifying. Thankfully this year at the Mega, I only had to get on the lift once to get up for the qualifying.

short ride in Ainsa before Batalla del Inframundo race (2017)

Yari: About EWS. You have participated on some races of the series. What's your opinion the fast evolution of the EWS?
Lizard: Does it helps to spread the word about enduro? Something you will change?
I think what the EWS has done for the sport is great. It has brought big names from mountain biking such as Sam Hill across to the ‘dark side’ of enduro which is a big boost for so-called ‘enduro’ which is just putting a title on the mountain biking as we’ve been doing it for years. Once change I would make is to televise it better, even if it’s just one track but to have it televised live, like a downhill race.

Yari: Do you have some kind of amulet or obsession when racing?
Lizard: I do my visualising and make sure my bike is set up and in the right gear before setting off but other than that, every stage is different so you can’t use the same recipe twice.

Yari: Which are your strong points?
Lizard: Really technical rocky terrain that doesn’t involve speed.

Yari: And weaknesses?
Lizard: Corners.

Sierra Nevada Enduro 2017
Not much corners here, Sierra Nevada Enduro, 2017

Yari: For enduro racing: "blind" racing or trained stages?
Lizard: Trained stages.

Yari: 26, 27.5", 27.5+ or 29, what's your opinion, which one fits you better?
Lizard: This year Vitus Bikes supplied me with both the 27.5” and the 29er - I feel I can ride them both just the same but I like the 27.5” because it has more travel and I think if I had a 29er with the same travel, that would be the bike for me.

Yari: What bike(s) do you own right now, which one you ride the most?
Lizard: I own too many bikes to count! But I would say the Vitus Sommet CRX 27.5” has got the most use this year.

Yari: When racing or just riding, is there something you can't stand on the bike and should be fixed ASAP?
Lizard: No - I have found that people who can ride bikes well, will ride around any problem the bike may have and more often than not, the people who complain that there’s something wrong with their bikes, can’t ride bikes very well.

Yari: Which rider impresses you the most nowdays or is your preferred?
Lizard: Fabio Wibmer. He has great imagination and a big set of eggs, he is constantly pushing the limits to make cool videos.

Flying in the EWS Finale Ligure 2017

Yari: And who, throughout your career, have impressed or inspired you more?
Lizard: Brandon Semenuk, he’s probably one of the most precise riders on the planet.

Yari: Do you do an specific training, could you briefly describe it?
Lizard: I ride my bike.

Yari: Which is or are your preferred ringing spots?
Lizard: Malaga province.

Yari: When at home, how and where do you usually train?
Lizard: I used to do a lot of gym work but now I just ride my bike. It’s surprising how much of a total body workout riding trials can be.

Yari: What's your opinion on the present and future of MTB in Ireland?
Lizard: It’s looking good. Last year we had a junior enduro world champion, Killian Callaghan, and Greg Callaghan finished in 3rd overall and winning a number of rounds, this has really given a boost to the Irish enduro community. Especially with such great race organisers such as Glyn O’Brien and Niall Davies doing such a great job putting together such well-run national series.

Yari: What advices would you give to anyone starting cycling in general?
Lizard: If you want to learn to do something fast, first learn how to do it slowly and pay for some coaching, you progress a lot quicker!

Yari: To help us to enjoy more our rides what setup of advice for our bikes would you recommend or advice?
Lizard: Make it as comfortable as possible with good grippy WTB tyres!

Yari: Tell us about what you do when you are not racing.
Lizard: At the minute, all of my time and effort goes towards setting up my mountain bike business.

Yari: So what’s this mountain bike business about?
Lizard: We’re called Enduro Malaga. I’ve wanted to set up a mountain bike holiday business for as long as I can remember and this year things finally fell into place. As of right now we are running uplift assisted, guided mountain bike holidays on my favourite trails all around Malaga in any riding style mountain biking has to offer.

Endurama Montanchez 2017 was a hell of a race

Yari: What music are you listening right now?
Lizard: Not listening to any, just relaxing listening to the sound of the crickets out in the Spanish campo.

Yari: A preferred movie or serie?
Lizard: I’m watching iZombie at the moment and really enjoying it but can’t wait for more Game of Thrones!

Yari: Preferred food, when you can choose it?
Lizard: Pasta. Pasta. Pasta!

Yari: Which you prefer: a camper van or a Ferrari? After seeing you all year round on your camper, I think I know the answer.
Lizard: I’ll forever forever be a van-life lad!

Van life in Ainsa

Yari: Future plans?
Lizard: Making this business thing happen and having fun on a bike, with many more videos to come!

Thanks for your time Lizard!!

You can follow Lizard on the following social media: Instagram / Facebook
And his guiding business in Malaga: EnduroMalagaMTB Instagram / Facebook

1 Comment

  • 2 0
 Wicked Interview! I had the pleasure of having Nathan as a guide a few years ago back at another guide outfit out of Fuengirola (near malaga). My best day there was for sure out riding 1 on 1 with Nathan, and rode a pretty cool creek bed trail. It was awesome watching him show off some of his trials skills on the boulders and was pretty flattered when he told me I was one of the few people he got to actually ride without holding back with....although I'm sure he was just being nice.

Not surprised at all seeing him get great results in these races, so much skills to go with the speed.

wicked skilled rider and nice guy! for sure will be hitting up his guiding if I ever make it back to Spain.

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