Sam Hill is undoubtedly a legend in the racing world. The man from down under has stood at the top of world-level podiums in a multitude of disciplines and has been THE dominating force in enduro for the last three years. We sat down with ‘Mr Inside Line’ and found out what he’s all about, from racing to family, technique and more! Sam likes to keep his answers short and snappy, so grab a coffee and enjoy a quick-fire read!
ENDURO: You have been at the top of the sport for so long now and have nothing left to prove. What drives you now? Is it still the hunger for winning or more staying a part of the scene?
Sam Hill: It’s my own determination, I think. Obviously, I have a team and sponsors that I want to do good for but ultimately, if I’m racing, I want to be my best and try to be the fastest person there!
ENDURO: If you had not gone down the route of bike racing, what do you think you have ended up doing?
Sam Hill: I’m really not sure. All I ever wanted to do was ride my bike so I’m glad it worked out! My dad was a welder so I guess I might have gone down that path otherwise.
ENDURO: You’re well known for your cornering. When you were first starting out, what made you look for the inside line? Was it something someone told you or did you just figure out it was faster?
Sam Hill: Growing up as a kid I was told the inside line is shorter and therefore faster. I guess it doesn’t always work out that way but usually, it does. Plus, I like trying to ride lines that other people can’t always get onto which makes it fun and exciting.
ENDURO: All the riding parents out there will be interested: did becoming a dad change your feelings at all about racing, the travel and the risk?
Sam Hill: I don’t think so. However, it has made me realise that there’s a lot more to life than just racing bikes. Now, if I have a bad race, at least I get to go home to my family who loves me no matter what the result is. I definitely want to do good for them and make them proud when I’m away.
ENDURO: How do you manage fear? Have you ever got to a race feature and thought, “Nah f#ck that”?
Sam Hill: That’s a tough one! I think just growing up and pushing yourself to do things you realise how to work up to something and do it. I only do things that I know I’m capable of. I won’t ever do something wondering if I can or not.
ENDURO: We’ve seen on Instagram that your kids are looking pinned on the motos. What advice would you give them if they wanted to turn pro?
Sam Hill: Keep it fun, work hard and stay determined to reach your goals.
ENDURO: You seem to spend a lot of time riding motos in the offseason too. Is that just for fun, or does it benefit your mountain bike riding?
Sam Hill: I think it definitely helps keep up the skills for the mountain bike, but also it’s faster and helps you get used to going at a different speed. That way, when you go back to riding the mountain bike, things feel like they’re happening slower.
ENDURO: How does it feel when everyone knows you when you turn up at a cycling venue? Did you imagine that happening at the beginning?
Sam Hill: It’s still a bit funny for me. I think that I’m just a normal guy and I’m still pretty shy around people sometimes. But it’s also awesome to be recognised and realise how much our sport has grown over the years.
ENDURO: Nigel Page is your team manager and you guys really seem to get on. How important is the team dynamic to you now? Do you look for different things from a team now than in the beginning?
Sam Hill: Yeah, Nigel is just an awesome person who is one of my good friends now. I think it’s super important to get along as a team and enjoy being around each other in order to be successful. I guess I have just learnt what I like and don’t like about a team. Although, I’ve been lucky to have good people around me pretty much my whole career.
ENDURO: It’s fair to say you have always let your riding do the talking but how important is being on a team like CRC for you? You seem to have a lot of freedom?
Sam Hill: Yeah, I really love being a part of the CRC family, they have been awesome to me since our first day together and have supported me through anything I wished to do or not do. For me, it’s really important to feel a part of the company and not just a rider in their jersey.
ENDURO: In a world where the vast majority of racers ride clips, what is your top tip for those who are rocking flat pedals?
Sam Hill: Use them to your advantage and push your limits in the turns to find that extra speed!
ENDURO: And finally, what’s been the best piece of cycling advice you’ve ever been given?
Sam Hill: Hold it wide and let it slide!
We also asked our Instagram followers for their quick-fire questions. Here are our top three picks:
@Okalolli asks: “Do you usually stop on stages in practice to look for lines etc. or just ride through?”
Sam Hill: I try to usually just ride through unless there’s something I feel I need to stop and look at.
@lucas_w03 asks: “Who is the better enduro racer: a fit and young underdog, or an older and more experienced rider?”
Sam Hill: Those are both dangerous combos but with experience comes fewer mistakes which is incredibly important in enduro!
@Matthieu_fritsch asks: “How do you manage to balance training, racing around the world and being a dad of three?”
Sam Hill: I feel really lucky to be able to do what I love and also get to spend so much time at home with my family. It’s always hard being away but I get to spend so much time with them when I am home that it all works out well!
We would like to thank Sam for his time and wish him the best of luck for next season. Cheers!
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Words: Trev Worsey Photos: Nukeproof