Interview: Eddie Masters

Jan 27, 2015 at 8:12
by Lauren Jenkins  


Eddie Masters taking a break in the Norwegian heat.

Behind the flip-flops (Jandals if you're from NZ) Hawaiian shirts, clapped out vans and an ever-changing array of facial hair, is more than meets the eye - put aside the joker masquerade and you're left with Eddie Masters, a fun-loving albeit serious rider who's stoked to do what he loves.

Growing up alongside his brother, Wyn and a whole host of New Zealand's World Cup regulars like Sam Blenkinsop, the brothers attended school in Wanganui, pushing their riding and immersing themselves in the mountain bike scene. Fast forward to 2014 and Eddie was at the helm of the newly created Bergamont/Hayes team, leading them into a new season in his new role as team manager, balancing racing and new responsibilities. Last year saw him qualify fourth in Cairns, his best qualifier to date, moving forward with some clear goals for both himself and the team for 2015, find out more about his past, present and what comes next.

bigquotesA lot of the time privateers ride conservatively knowing that their pockets are only so deep, and their spares are what they can get out of the rubbish bins at 11pm in the pits. Having been there and done that it makes me really appreciate what I've got.

Growing up where did it all start, were you always into bikes?

To be honest, I think my mum really wanted girls; so from a young age myself and Wyn grew up riding horses, competing and all. But there comes a time in a young boys life when they begin to wonder why there aren't too many other boys riding horses, so at about the age of 10 and 12 Wyn and I traded the four hooves in for two wheels. Alongside riding horses I was always into sports and grew up playing anything I could turn a hand to.

Throwback. Wyn masters Sam blenkinsop Glenn Haden and Ed Masters amp Eddie with horse..
Throwback, Wyn masters, Sam Blenkinsop Glenn Haden and Ed Masters.

Who did you ride with as you grew up?

When I was 12 years old, I was 'shipped' off to the same boarding school that Wyn was already attending and to be honest I think this had a profound affect on my riding. We both attended Wanganui Collegiate, which was in the same town as Sam Blenkinsop and a handful of New Zealand's top downhillers at the time. The scene in Wanganui was really big and the local club there really pushed the downhill side of things, so there was never any shortage of riders and races to get involved with. Having a good group of riders along with Blenky and my brother meant every spare minute I had was spent riding at the skatepark, dirt jumps or in the forest.

Without getting too deep, you’re always portrayed as the ‘joker’, I know life shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but is there a different side to Eddie Masters?

I mean everyone has a serious side and there are certain things that I take seriously, but from the outside looking in, I can imagine that it would look as though my life is one of joking around. I train hard in the off season, and I make sure I have all the tools I need to do the job at hand when I comes to racing, but for me the racing side of it is fun and if I'm having fun then it generally it translates into riding well. The first year I went racing on the world cup in 2012 I tried to be what I thought was a 'world cup racer' by psyching myself up, over analyzing things and trying to look the part. In all honesty, that year I sucked! I didn't qualify in four world cups and was left wondering where I went wrong. The following year, I went over with a completely different mindset, and went out to race for myself and have a bloody good time doing it. Slowly but surely the results started to come in, and I began to figure out what worked for me... the rest is history!

Eddie Masters is a legend. Practice all day with an American flag on his helmet.
Eddie Masters is a legend. Practice all day with an American flag on his helmet - Photo: Matt Delorme

How difficult was life as a privateer and what’s the difference now you’re sponsored, obviously it’s not all 5 star hotels and champagne, but how have things changed?

For 2014, both Bergamont and Hayes took a bit of a punt on me in terms of running the team on their behalf. I had some pretty big plans and it must've been hard for them to throw a cheque book at a young guy who they had never met and one who easily came across as a bit of a 'wild child'. So in that sense, 2014 was run on a pretty tight budget, we bought a beat up old bus and tried to save money wherever possible. The biggest change from being a privateer to having a factory support; was not having to worry about the little things. Knowing you have spare wheels and a place to shower at the end of the day makes hitting Fort William rocks at speed that much easier. A lot of the time privateers ride conservatively knowing that their pockets are only so deep, and their spares are what they can get out of the rubbish bins at 11pm in the pits. Having been there and done that it makes me really appreciate what I've got.

Wyn Master s brother Eddy is the proud helmsman of the vehicle over 166 000 miles young.
Life as a privateer, Val Di Sole, 2013. Photo: Nathan Hughes.

You’re only 25 so you’ve got plenty of time to race and get results yet, but do you have any clear goals and what are you most proud of?

I've basically done two full seasons so far and each year the results have been an improvement on the previous year... so for me, I really just want to keep the ball rolling! I'm still learning and trying to perfect my 'racecraft' but if I were to put my finger on one goal, it would have to be that I want to crack into the top 20 and stay there, regularly! While it might not sound too exciting for some, for me it's a realistic goal and one that I'm going to be pushing for in 2015. As for what I'm most proud of, it might sound a bit gay but I'm pretty proud to be doing what I always wanted to do! I went to university straight out of school so I was a bit of a late starter on the World Cup. I used to get hammered in town and come home from town and watch all my friends racing on freecaster, and I knew that's what I wanted to be doing. Fast forward three years and that's where I am, and I'm stoked about it!

The racer always willing to poke a finger in the UCI s eye Eddie Masters en route to finishing in 9th place--one spot behind brother Wyn Masters. One has to wonder will we see Ed Masters at Whip Off Worlds getting sideways in flip flops like we did last year
Eddie Masters, en route to finishing in 9th place, Crankworx 2014. Photo: Colin Meagher

You've been pictured in them more often than not, so do you have any current plans to launch your own brand of riding flip-flops?

Ha ha I'm a kiwi, so we've gotta call them jandals! But on that note, if anyone out there wants to help make this a reality then I'm game!

Eddie Masters whipping in flip flops to the sound of his own sound track on the megaphone. crazykiwis
Eddie Masters whipping in flip flops. Photo: Colin Meagher

Kiwi’s have a bit of a reputation for being wild, would you say you live up to the stereotype?

Yeah we definitely have a bit of a reputation and I think its not so much of a stereotype, but more of a way of life. We're from a small country where it's all about getting out and doing it, whether it's on the race track or at the after party. I know that some people might not agree with how we go about things sometimes, but all I can say to the doubters is to come to NZ, see what we're about and maybe it might start to make sense!

There was a lot of pressure on you after qualifying 4th at Cairns and it clearly affected your riding, what does it take to cope under that level of stress?

I didn't find I treated that race any differently, but of course it was a bit of a shock to find myself as one of the last men down the hill. A lot of people tried to give me advice about how to deal with it, but I just went about my usual business by blasting some music at the top, dancing around and cracking jokes with all the lads. I've been known to throw around the term 'YOLO run' from time to time, and that's the run I decided was the best bet for that day, all or nothing... rumble in the jungle. In hindsight it didn't pay off, but to be honest I wouldn't have it any other way, I rolled the dice and it didn't work out, but to be able to race against those guys and be competitive was an awesome experience and I cant wait for the next one.

Eddie Masters shaved his beard down to racing weight and even added a little flare to it. Unfortunately the lightning bolts didn t help him follow up on his qualifying result but he was pleased with how the weekend went and is looking to continue to climb up in the rankings.
The go faster lightening bolts in Cairns, Photo: Matt Delorme

You once said that you don’t put any pressure on yourself because if you ride and just have a good time then the results will follow, you’re obviously more than capable, what do you think it takes to make it to podium?

Having not joined the 'club' it's hard to make calls about what it takes to get there. But if you look at those who have stepped on the box, once you get one more seem to follow. I think anyone who is in the top 15 is capable of getting on the podium. In a sport like downhill, confidence is everything. Knowing you CAN get a podium and knowing you COULD get a podium are two profoundly different things. For me, I feel like I still have a lot to learn and a lot of things that I need to work on before I can confidently say that I am racing for a podium and albeit, a win!

Managing and riding for the team has got to be tough at times, how do you keep things balanced?

Yeah it can get a bit stressful, and I definitely learnt a lot this year which will make this coming year a hell of a lot easier. Having a good solid crew of guys on the team made my life so much easier. Everyone was always keen to help out and we're all good mates, so while it might seem like I was managing a 'team' all I was doing was helping some good friends ride their bikes.

Flip-flops no more. Eddy Masters pro racer with his Bergamont team bike. Some promising results and all that marketing paid off. Let s hope a well-pressed factory racing costume doesn t salt his game.
Flip-flops no more. Eddie Masters, pro racer, with his Bergamont team bike. Photo: Nathan Hughes.

Are there any changes to the team this year?

Yeah we're definitely changing things up a bit, as I really want to run a race team this year rather than a travelling band of gypsies haha! Its gutting to say that we're losing Jack to another team, but I'm not one to get in the way of a good opportunity and I'm pretty stoked to be a part of his career, as it's looking pretty bright. Casey is back for 2015 and we have a couple of new faces that will be announced in the next few weeks, stay tuned!

The Bergamont DH team at Fort William 2014 - Eddie Masters Casey Brown Jack Moir
The team in Fort Bill last year. Photo: Delayed Pleasure - Szymon Nieborak

What goes on tour stays on tour, but you’ve got to have some pretty wild stories from the road?

The one that really comes to mind comes from Meribel this year. Bergamont had organized new frames for World Cup finals and World Champs and they were due to arrive on the Wednesday night before practice. As these things go, they didn't come until midnight so we had to quickly drive down to the pits to get them. Meilink the lizard (our mechanic) proceeded to accidentally put the wrong key in the ignition and it got stuck, I then proceeded to snap it off. Being a car mechanic by trade, Meilink quickly hot wired the old bus and we thought we were good to go, until the steering lock came on...

Rupert Chapman being an avid fan of cops said that he has seen people break the steering locks on TV so we decided to give that a go. With 3 guys hanging off the steering wheel at 1 in the morning, we managed the snap the steering wheel clean off. Fast forward past a few more issues and we came to the conclusion following the race and nursing severe hangovers, that our only option was to drive our bus back to Morzine (2.5hr) using vice grips... via the French Alps.

Looking at yours and Wyn’s results you guys are pretty close in terms of times, is there a rivalry there or are you both on the same wavelength?

While we're not super competitive, we do have a bit of a battle of the brothers thing going and are always keeping tabs and whose ahead of who. We ride together heaps and always bounce ideas off of one another in terms of lines, so it's not too surprising that we always seem to come in pretty close to each other.

The Bergamont DH team at Fort William 2014 - Eddie Masters Casey Brown Jack Moir
The two brothers in Fort William, 2014. Photo: Delayed Pleasure - Szymon Nieborak

Will you be channelling the spirit of enduro this year or continuing to focus on downhill?

Rest assured the 'spirit' will be making an appearance at a handful of EWS rounds this year. I figured with the amount of piss taking I do, it would be rude not to face up and give it a proper go. I'm currently sharpening my scissors, no piece of course tape will be safe when I'm on course. Let the games begin!

Casey posted some great results last season, what do you think it will take for her to get a podium?

It's just a matter of time! It was a bit of a learning curve running a new bike and joining a new team, so 2014 had a bit of a slow start for CB. Towards the end she began to find her feet and had it not been for a bit of bad luck, I'm pretty sure we would have seen her on the box last year. This year suits her strengths, so I'm pretty excited to see what she can do. We might just have to take her brakes off maybe?

The Bergamont DH team at Fort William 2014 - Eddie Masters Casey Brown Jack Moir
The Bergamont DH team at Fort William 2014 - Photo: Delayed Pleasure - Szymon Nieborak

What does off-season look like for Eddie Masters?

I base myself in Queenstown, it's the best place ever. With a bike park only a couple of minutes from my doorstep and one of the world's best dirt jumps spots just a couple of 100m away, I cant think of anywhere else you'd want to be. We have a solid crew of guys and there are always visiting world cuppers gracing us with their presence, so it's safe to say the scene down here is pretty strong. I've just finished up working for the summer and am getting stuck into training and just trying to ride all my bikes as much as I can however leading up to the new year I can sometimes be found cutting some serious shapes on the weekends!

The season kicks off in April in Lourdes, which tracks are most looking forward to?

It would have to be Val di Sole and Andorra. Both those tracks are legendary and I can't wait to get back to both those venues. There's barely any pedalling and they are both WILD to say the least. I think I speak on behalf of everyone when I say that these tracks are tracks that suit a certain type of rider. Remi Thirion and Sam Hill come to mind and I cant wait to ride and watch the madness that will go down at both these races.

Ed Masters down right dirty.
Ed Masters down right dirty, Mont-Sainte-Anne. Photo: Paris Gore

What are your hopes going into the season?

To keep on keeping on. I just want to keep improving, having fun and getting sh*t done!

Any solid plans for the future, or are you just taking it as it comes?

I'm so stoked to be doing what I'm doing right now, that I just want to try and make it last as long as I can. Things can change pretty quickly in this sport and industry, so I'm just going to take it as it comes and try and do the best I can with what I've got. A big shout out goes to Bergamont and Hayes Components for backing me and giving me a shot at living my dream. Couldn't thank all the guys at both these companies enough... cheers!

Follow Eddie - Bergamont/Hayes Team - Instagram - Team Website

MENTIONS: @BergamontBicycles @HayesBrakes @SramMedia @Maxxis

Author Info:
laurenjenkins avatar

Member since Jan 10, 2012
105 articles

  • 96 1
 "But there comes a time in a young boys life when they begin to wonder why there aren't too many other boys riding horses... " ahaha, rad.
  • 3 27
flag AdamOdh (Feb 5, 2015 at 16:10) (Below Threshold)
 ....and then my bro Wyn take the bull by the horns and started doing some world cups"
  • 26 2
 I actually read it all
  • 5 2
 So did I , now I'm late for work ! Cyas
  • 3 0
 Eddie is such a legend. Love his attitude. Really hoping he's a regular on the podium this season.
  • 73 0
 Eddie Masters rocks! I first realized he was a wing nut when I interviewed him at CWX just after whipping his bike sideways going big on Crabapple hits and then realized he was doing it in his flip flops!!! Awesome…and glad he didn't have to call a 'tow truck'!! ha ha
  • 35 0
 If he does create his own brand of riding flip flops he better make an spd version and call them clip flops.
  • 31 1
 Masters boys have it figured out, someone throw money at them. Wyn tv is one of my fav race weekend happenings.
  • 25 0
 Caption says Flip Flops no more. Image clearly shows him rocking the jandals, with socks! Obviously it was business time...
  • 20 6
 I know I'm not gay now. I spotted boobies. And they're kinda hard to find.
  • 5 2
 And I thought that I was desperate.
  • 2 1
  • 8 1
 Where there are all the number plates stuck to the wall. That's the only hint you get. It's like a scavenger hunt.
  • 4 0
 My friend and I tried to snap the steering lock on a junky old van once (just to see how it worked).

He was holding the top of the wheel pulling left as hard as he could.
I was hanging off the left side of the wheel pulling down as hard as I could.
When the lock finally snapped and the wheel spun his elbow smashed straight into my face...

One the pain & laughter subsided we were able to turn the steering wheel maybe half a turn... and then it just locked back up again.

Funny how nothing is ever as simple as it looks on TV.
  • 4 1
 "I didn't qualify in four world cups and was left wondering where I went wrong."

His question is the same for me.
Where can he possibly wrong.
He and his brother has attitude and skills, but being an underdog riders would be suck.
Good luck for Masters brothers.
  • 4 0
 i went to queenstown for a holiday and when i was in line to get my pass eddie was standing behind me and he was talking about his season to these two guys and i was standing there listening ! aha he seemed like a cool guy
  • 5 1
 Pretty stoked to drink a budweiser with this cat at windham. Dang fun to talk too.
  • 2 0
 I think it should become official pinkbike protocol that whenever referring to them in conjunction with Eddie that they ALWAYS be referred to as JANDALS and not Flip Flops!!!!
  • 5 1
 Looks like he has mastered the art of having fun while working
  • 3 0
 Am I the only one who is in love with Casey Brown? Beautiful and can whip, what a combo. Coolest bike team.
  • 2 0
 If he does create his own brand of riding flip flops he better make an spd version
  • 3 0
 LOL breaking the steering wheel, still driving.....
  • 1 0
 The Masters boys make the sport what it is. Met them at FT William DH and they were just the best. Eddie gave my son his race shirt.
  • 2 0
 I would buy those flip flops. Oops, i mean jandals
  • 6 3
 Legend. Simply put.
  • 3 1
 You guys (Berg. Hayes team) are my idols!!!
  • 2 0
 That steering wheel story is live! Best of luck ed, great interview
  • 2 0
 what a GC
  • 2 1
 The guy who puts fun... in funtastic!
  • 3 1
 Good stuff
  • 3 2
 World Cup downhill.... Nono. Professional Sports need more Masters.
  • 2 1
 I need to grow me a tech beard
  • 1 0
 keep on keepin on bro, tu meke
  • 1 0
 Privateers are heroes! yea boy
  • 1 0
 Candid and Real just how we like it!
  • 1 0
 i will consider each of master sponsor when i'll buy dh stuff
  • 3 2
 Some boy!
  • 1 2
 recently met eddie at a bike park... he cut me off on the inside of a corner and i ate bag of dicks for it! down with eddie
  • 2 1
 Like living a dream
  • 1 0
 Genuine crazy eyes!

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