I say about Brian to even approach his being? I know that there
is not a single person I know who takes more honest joy and stoke out
of seeing people around him progress. This passion for riding
manifests itself in a methodical assault on any hill around. Few
understand the science of downhilling as inately as Happy. Fuse
that with a jones for adrenaline, and an unstoppable imaginiation and
you've got one serious trail captain on your hands.
Rider Profile - Brian Hapgood
Justin : ďAlright we want to thank Brian Hapgood for coming out, and giving us his time. Start off with some history, when you first started competitive cycling.Ē
Brian : Early nineties (thinking aloud) í92 I think,
Annie and Mary Daysí cross country race, and a Bigfoot cross country race. The Bigfoot was up in Crannel and the Annie
and Mary Days was in
J : How old were you?
B : Fifteen, maybe, I donít really remember.
J : Did that experience get you stoked, so you kept after it?
B : I always thought biking was cool, but I thought the races sucked. There were lots of hills and gravel roads, not really good trail.
J : Were the courses different then from what you see now?
B : Yeah, I donít really do cross country races but, now thereís single track at most of them. Our local cross country races run pretty good single track. I just stayed riding, and got into snow boarding, and that took me to downhill.
J : Snowboarding was your primary pursuit for awhile?
B : By the end of high school I was over the idea
of going to college and down with the idea of moving to
J : After that you moved back to Humboldt?
B : Yeah I moved back to Humboldt in í99. Was riding all around in the forestÖ
J : Just kind of over snowboarding or what?
B : No, I needed to go to school,
J : So you came back
here with the bike you acquired in
B : Yeah there was just more riding, and it was mostly just about riding in the community forest, and the Sunny Brae trail, I rode that a lot. I lived in Bayside so we rode Sunny Brae trail.
J : Were you interested in the competitive aspect at that point?
B : No, I was into riding more technical trails and riding with people that were at or above my skill level was something that I wanted to do. It wasnít really able to do that when I first moved back, with the people I knew. I was in Revolution (Bicycle and Repair) a bunch and talked with Sean T. a bunch about, he lived in Tahoe so we had the snow board connection there and we were similar age. So he actually called and invited me to meet and go ride the Bigfoot course that he and Matt Snyder, and I think you, had built up in freshwater. Sean, and Matt, and I think Greg Newkirk was there for a practice day. He said meet him at three at Three Corners, and I was so stoked like ĎYes Iím going to ride with some shredders.í I showed up and they all have DH bikes and Iím like ĎOh shití. I just slammed my seat down on my Ibis and freakin go for it, itís all good. My Judy DH fork, plush.
J : So that had a major impact?
B : Oh it was an eye opening experience. So basically the only reason I got into racing, doing one race on that trail, was just to have people to ride with, people who were shredding, with access to those kinds of trails. Then I bought the Lenz Sport from Curtis (Lonn)Ö
J : That was your first suspension bike?
B : My first suspension bike. I had it for three days and I dislocated my shoulder on the Bigfoot.
J : So that injury was a bit of a setback?
B : Yeah, but Iíve never been deterred by injuries they are just set backs.
J : Being on that bike for just three days still must have opened your eyes to some things.
B : I had ridden full suspension before but it had been awhile, and I had never ridden downhill full suspension with big tires, chain guide, and hydro discs.
J : So how long were you down on that dislocation?
B : Months. Three months at least. Itís not really until just now that I am recovered from that. Cause it was always poppin out.
J : How many times since then has it dislocated?
B : Eight. Some of them pretty benign, it just falls out.
J : What was the last straw when you decided it was time toÖ
B : I decided it was time to have surgery when I had that really good brace on and dislocated it in practice at Mammoth last year. A relatively minor fall, I didnít even fall on my shoulder and it dislocated.
J : From your first race at Bigfoot in í01, fast forward four years later, youíve got a bit more experience, and you guys hit the National Championship series last summer.
B : That was fun.
J : Did that feel like was a graduation point?
B : My graduation point felt like my first expert race at Sea Otter. I had raced sport the year before at big bear and gotten eighth. So at Sea Otter I decided to race expert my first year there and got sixth. I was like ĎOk I can do thisí. So I went to Big Bear and did relatively good there on a pedally course that people were bitching about. After that I was like ĎI need to do more races, I can do this, Iím good at this, I want to keep doing it, I want to race these kids again.í
So we just made it happen. Curtis (Lonn) has the ideas, we all have the ideas, and we just started talking. Curtis and Hank wanted to do it, J (Superfan) was down, we just made it happen. We just all put our noses to the grind stone once we had the idea, and came up with the money we needed. When it came down to it we were trying to get different kinds of vehicles, but we just took the vehicles we had.
J : So how many races did you hit?
B : Three.
Schweitzer Idaho, that was pretty sick.
Had a flat in my race run and couldnít finish, that was sucky. Then Snowmass
J : Time riding with Kirt Voreis and other pros last summer must have been eye opening.
B : Absolutely. Just use less of the trail. On any kind of winedy back and forth single track, anywhere that you can bunnyhop corners and just rhythm stuff makes it smoother and faster, its more fun too. Once you retune your eyes to that it becomes more natural.
J : Have you seen your vision changing a lot in the last couple years?
B : It canít help but change if you start going faster. You gotta look at the trail different.
J : Letís get a little info on SWD, how you became tied in with those guys.
B : Was Hank, hank moved up here. Met him at school, I had heard about some dude with a steel bike from Sean. He came up to go to school, I met him, and we just started talking about bikes and downhill. At that point I was breaking swing arms on the Lenz Sport. Devin Lenz, from Lenz Sport, told Curtis that I should find a new bike builder, he asked me to find a new bike builder. So talking to Hank I told him that I was told to find a new bike builder and it sounded like I had. So Steve built me a bike that was kind of a prototype, and at Mammoth last year he gave me another frame, and Iíve been riding on that. Modified the geometry a little bit, I got the bottom bracket a little bit lower then stock, itís awesome, it rips.
J : Seems like Steveís support and interest in the sport is really valuable to the team.
B : Itís huge. He works so hard for everyone, itís pretty amazing. People realize the amount of work that he puts into the bikes, into building the bikes, supporting the racers, going to races. He works himself sick actually.
J : So is the SWD design due for further revisions?
B : Weíre never stuck with an idea, a design. We are always trying to make them better. Lighter helps, strength helps. Itís that balance between the weight and the strength, and to get the weight lower.
J : With the teams success this year do you think you will be seeing more interest in hitting it hard this year?
B : I think so.
J : Personally youíve been riding a lot this summer, including a trip to Japan, what can you tell us about that?
B : That was rad.
I could spend a lot of time talking about
J : Did you get a different vibe over there, or is it like any other race?
B : Not too much different in the approach. There is the same array of people of people who are all focused and super quiet, people who are taking naps, and people that are listening to music and rocking out. People take pretty good care of there bikes there, they are big on bike prep. If you have the money to get to the race it is a big deal, so they take it pretty seriously.