WELCOME TO THE TEAM - Inside or outside the tape, Alex Storr has an uncanny ability to turn heads and draw attention to his two-wheeled antics. Unknown to many a few months ago and still a new face to most, Alex began making a name for himself last year, while in the U21 ranks of the EWS. A slow start to the season that built as Alex - still new to the sport - learned the ropes, eventually winning the British national title, round six of the EWS and finishing fourth overall, as a privateer.
“I’d never heard of Alex before receiving an email from a colleague at our head office, on Vancouver Island, who’d caught wind of this Welsh wonderkid via a friend in the UK. The random story behind this chance encounter - the purchasing of a second-hand snowboard, of course - was enough to get me interested, but after a quick scan on Roots and Rain followed by the standard Instagram sweep, my interest was piqued and the rest is history. We are all extremely excited to welcome Alex to Forbidden and can’t wait to see what comes next from this talented young rider.” - Olly Forster, Forbidden’s Global Marketing Manager.
FBC: In your own words, who is Alex Storr?
ALEX: A 20-year-old who’s stoked to ride bikes every day.
How did you get into bikes?
I’m lucky that my dad is really into bikes and he grew up riding motorbike trials, so I did the same! Getting my first Rev-and-Go 50cc bike when I was six was rad and although I crashed it a lot at first, within a year, I started competing. Fortunately, there’s a great trials scene around here so there was an event pretty much every weekend. I won the Cheshire and North Wales Championship a handful of times, a few Welsh rounds and my best British result was a 5th in 2016, in the 125cc class.
From trials, how did you discover mountain bikes and what was it that put the hook into you to pursue that route?
I’d always enjoyed ripping around the local woods on my hardtail, but I mainly discovered mountain biking from my high school MTB club, who would take us to the local trail centre after school most Thursdays. My favourite thing about trials wasn’t actually the ‘sections’ but the bits in between them - I’d always be full-throttle and trying to get to the next section as fast as I could, so it was no surprise that I was instantly hooked trying to go as fast as possible down a hill on a mountain bike. I bought my first full-suspension [mountain bike] in 2016, when I was 15-years-old, and raced my first enduro the following year; I then decided to focus entirely on racing mountain bikes. I still do the odd trial now and then too.
How did your ‘trials skills’ translate to the MTB and what [skills] did you have to learn and develop the most for the MTB?
General bike control from trials helps massively on any kind of bike, so I quickly became comfy on the hardtail I used to borrow [and abuse] from school! My trials background definitely shows in my riding style and it helps me on the tighter stuff where good balance and being able to maneuver the bike around quickly. I also love some front-wheel action too! One thing that took a bit of getting used to was being in the air as there’s not much of that In trials.
Like your teammate (Connor Fearon), you’re a flat pedals rider but over the winter you tried clips for the first time; how did that go and what did you think, jumping between the two and what swayed your decision towards flats?
Yeah, it's super cool to see Connor stick with flats and do so well on them. For me, after racing the EWS last year, I was pretty keen to try clips for the first time this winter. I had them on for a week or so and that was the end of that. Not only were my elbows cooked but it just felt so out of my comfort zone - they were good in a straight line, but I had no confidence leaning the bike coming into corners and there aren’t many straight lines in enduro! I probably could have done with sticking at it for a little longer, but for now, especially with the high pivot taking the edge off those nasty sharp, square-edge hits and with no [pedal] kickback, I'm happy with the flats.
Do you think that there are some significant benefits - that perhaps most riders overlook or ignore, in an enduro race scenario - when using flat pedals and what downsides do you have to overcome to optimize performance?
I wouldn’t say say that there any ‘significant’ benefits as everyone sticks with what they prefer. Maybe, when racing enduro and not knowing every stage exactly, it's handy to know you can dab a foot whenever and not worry about clipping back in. Also, with the slow-speed techy climbs, I was actually more nervous being clipped in knowing that I’d struggle to get my foot out, should I did get Into trouble - that’s just me and my week-long experience with clips though ha-ha!
Let’s talk about enduro racing. Last year was your first full season of racing, taking the U21 British title, winning round 6 of the EWS and finishing fourth overall in the series - while those are some impressive results, what did you learn as a rider and a racer, and discover about yourself, racing overseas and travelling last year?
That was a pretty full-on season last year and it seemed to go so quickly; I had such a blast last summer travelling to the races with Tom [Morgan] and his rad van. It was a crash course for sure and I certainly learnt a lot from It, both In between the tapes and out - meeting other riders, from all walks of life and learning how they all approach a race was cool to see. For me, keeping things relaxed and fun seemed to work pretty well and I think it paid off. The first half of the EWS season was hard for me to settle into a pace and the swing of things, but once I did, I was riding calm and that’s how I ride best most of the time. I also started to walk each stage prior to racing which was a big benefit for me too.
You’ve never raced downhill yet you always do really well on the Pro Stage (at the EWS, which is a bit like a downhill race); have these results made you think about trying downhill and what is it about enduro, specifically, that you really like?
It’s always been about enduro [for me] because It was so practical to just get out of the house, straight on the bike and pedal for the whole day - a downhill bike seemed like an expensive proposition knowing I’d have to pay for an uplift each time I wanted to ride it. And that’s why I just stuck with enduro. Bike time is a big thing for me but for the past couple of years I've often said to myself; “I need to do a downhill race!” But I’ve never gotten round to it so I’d definitely like to squeeze one in when the opportunity arrises. As for my Pro Stage results, I’m not quite sure why that is? Maybe the format of practicing in the morning and putting it all down in the afternoon, is essentially what I've been doing at regional enduro races (in the UK) for the past few years.
From a privateer last season to a spot on a factory team this year; what are you looking forward to the most and what has it been like to make that jump?
It’s been a crazy journey and definitely a dream come true! To be given the opportunity and support to do what I enjoy most is unreal. I think having Matty [Dupell], Ant-Man and Seth [Barrett] around as a mechanic will be a huge boost for me. I'm really looking forward to riding and hanging out with Rhys [Verner], he’s got such a cool, chilled attitude to racing, but at the same time, knows when to make it count too. As well as having Tom [Doyle] around with his camera to capture it, I can’t wait!
Another big jump for you this season will see you in the Elite category. What have you been up to, preparing for this season, your goals and what are you apprehensive about, mixing it up with the big dogs of the sport?
With the jump to a spot on a factory team, I've been able to focus entirely on becoming a stronger rider this winter - something that I’ve never been able to do before. It's also been rad to be on a proper training program with my coach Neal Waterman, at Komplete Performance, this off-season. I’ve always had personal goals and the things that I want to achieve, but to get another full season under my belt, while maintaining the kind of consistent results I know I can achieve, would be cool. The move up to the big league this year hasn’t played on my mind at all, really, and I’m still just racing against the clock and having fun.
There was some negative feedback from riders last [EWS] season with regards to some of the more physically demanding stages that featured climbs; what’s your take on this and do you think that enduro races stages should be 100% gravity focussed?
I’m all for the stages being 100% gravity focussed, that’s for sure! But I think sometimes we forget that it is enduro so there’s got to be that physical element and I suppose that’s part of what we train for (maybe not that Canazei climb last year though…that was brutal!!)?
You’ve been in the skatepark a lot this off-season; is this something you’ve always done or is this new and what tricks are you keen to lockdown?
No, I’m very fresh on the skatepark scene, but I've really enjoyed switching things up this off-season [on the jump bike] - it’s been such a help to get on two wheels while it’s raining and dark outside. As for tricks, I’ve not got a lot in my locker just yet, but would I love to get my 360’s super dipped!
Let’s talk about media and content creation as it’s something you’ve been doing from the getgo. How do you approach generating content and mixing that in with your training and day-to-day activities?
Grabbing a few phone clips is always something me, my little brother and my mates have always done - it’s good to stop now and then and have a little session while the phone is out during a ride. Getting clips never really gets in the way of my riding and I enjoy whacking together a [Instagram] Reel at the end of a day and to be honest, I think it’s a big part of what we do as sponsored riders while outside of the races.
You’ve racked up some impressive views with some of your videos having been watched over a million times. Has this surprised you and what would you like to do, given the opportunity, with your content and media going forward?
I’m still figuring out the whole Instagram thing and it’s weird sometimes that the easiest and quickest to-film clips seem to do so well in terms of views. But yeah, definitely, I would love to do some more video projects with more filmmakers at new locations in between the races; and maybe even jump on the YouTube game one day, who knows, ha-ha!
We’re talking in March and with the EWS season is still some three months ahead; what are your plans and goals as we head closer to the season starting?
I’m literally counting down the days until we start racing again but for now, my plans are to keep training and maintaining my fitness, while maximizing my time on the bike - I’m feeling really good on the Dreadnought and ready to give It my all.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and good luck this season, we can’t wait to see what you get up to this year!
Thanks to everyone at Forbidden, It should be one hell of a good year. Cheers!