Aaron Gwin | Find Your Young Talent
Find your young talent

It’s inside us all. It’s up to everyone to find their young and undiscovered talent, to overcome conventions and pursue our dreams with passion and confidence.

YT-INDUSTRIES.COM

02

Aaron Gwin

5 x World Cup Champion

“I hope I’ll be riding bikes ‘til I die. I love riding; whether it’s a trail ride or downhill ride or whatever, I just like it all. I’ll do it as long as I can that’s for sure. I’ll be that 98-year-old dude just cruisin’ around the street with the grocery bag trying to launch it up a curb.

“I started riding BMX at four-years-old and started racing around five or six. My parents used to take me to the park, and the BMX track looked so fun, so my parents got me a bike. At first, it was just a way for me to just burn off energy so I’d sleep at night when I was a little kid, and I’ve just loved it ever since.

“We raced pretty competitively; traveling all over America, racing a lot of nationals with big sponsors that would fly me to races by the time I was eight or nine. We were pretty into it – that’s all I did.

“By the time I was nine-years-old I was burned out.”

“By the time I was nine-years-old I was burned out. I was a young kid, I wanted to hang out with my friends; so I stepped back from the racing part but never really stopped riding. When I was 12 I got into racing motocross, which is really what I’d always wanted to do since I was a little kid. We raced in the same way until I was about 17; racing the amateur nationals.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself for results back in those days, but with injuries and setbacks it was frustrating – I hadn’t really found my love for racing yet – and at that age you go through a lot of maturing. I’d always loved riding but I didn’t really gel with the pressure of racing back then, so I kinda burned out again, I wanted to take a step back and relax a little bit… reassess a few things.

“I signed up for school, got all my books – and that was just about the time I discovered mountain bike riding.”

“Eventually, the plan was to go to college. After working a bunch of jobs, I signed up for school, got all my books, and that was just about the time I discovered mountain bike riding. I got into MTB just before my 20th birthday and then discovered downhill through my good friend Cody Warren. He was National Champion at the time, I started riding with him for fun, then he invited me out to a race and off we went.

“I did pretty good and after a couple of races I got a phone call about a sponsorship offer on a regional team, but I was supposed to start college within a few weeks so I had a decision in front of me. I figured that school would always be there for me, but racing at a professional level might not be, so I decided to give racing a go, and here we are. That was at the beginning of 2008, it’s pretty crazy man.

 

“It’s been nine years and five World Cup titles. I’ve been racing for so long and I’ve always believed I could be the best.”

“It’s been nine years and five World Cup titles. I’ve been racing for so long and I’ve always believed I could be the best. When I started racing mountain bikes I just focused on improving. I believed I could get a lot better over time and after about a year or two I thought, ‘Ok, I think I can do this.’

“I knew it was going to take a little time to polish my skills and get my fitness to where I needed it in order to win races consistently; but I believed I could do it. I don’t know if I thought it would happen back then as much as I did in 2011 when I won almost every race, but I’ll take it! It’s been fun ever since, and now it’s just a part of my life.

“I’ve always believed in myself, I still do now – I work hard and focus on the things I can control and I do my best. When I wanted to start a team, I was looking for people that would support it, that would take it on with my vision and believe in me as much as I believed in myself.

 

“Bringing YT their first win and now two World Cup titles in a row has been pretty special.”

“When I met YT, there was an opportunity to do things my way. To be valued both as a person and for my skills as a professional felt really good. Bringing them their first win and now two World Cup titles in a row has been pretty special.

“I was excited coming into Lourdes, our first World Cup together as a team, because my off-season was good. We’d done a lot of testing, a lot of work – like a lot – leading into that race to be prepared, to make sure we had a package that could win races straight away.

“I believed I could, and we showed up and we did. I didn’t have my best run on that weekend so I was a little bit nervous, but it was good enough, and we still ended up getting the win. To get the first win at the first World Cup together was pretty cool, that’s history that can’t be undone now. It felt good.

“I remember when I signed the deal with YT, I was talking to Stefan (YT co-owner Stefan Willared); he had a dream one night that he was looking at a World Cup podium and his bike was up there as the fastest bike of the day. I shook his hand and said, ‘Alright, we’ll make that dream happen for ya’. I believed I could, just as I do every year. We pulled it off on the first race so I knew they were excited, that was cool. As soon as I saw Stefan after the race I was like, ‘There you go dude, dream come true!’ We were all just excited, I was really happy for them.

“I remember what my first win felt like, it’s a moment I’ll never forget.”

“I remember what my first win felt like, it’s a moment I’ll never forget, so it was a special moment for me to be able to do it for YT. And I know it was really special for them as a brand; they found the rider, they went for it, they kinda took a risk as far as stepping into the market and going for it.

“Wins are all special for different reasons, but I’d say winning the Val di Sole World Cup in 2017 was maybe the best one for me – it’s the win I had to fight the hardest to get. Nothing came easy that season; it was setback after setback – so to be able to pull it off at the end, to win and to do it epically… it was pretty sweet.

“To me, YT is a pretty core, passionate brand – they know what they want and they do things their own way. As soon as I jumped on the bike I really loved it. Bikes are important to me. If I’m not on a bike I think can win on, it’s pretty much a no deal for me because I want to be able to ride up to my potential as a racer – it would be a bummer to be on something I didn’t really like riding.

“I first started riding the Tues CF at a Laguna Beach trail I had ridden a lot and knew really well, so I knew what a bike was supposed to feel like there. For me, the geometry, everything about it was just spot on from day one. Everything sits where it should, everything feels natural, there’s nothing to really get used to, it’s a well-rounded solid bike in every way. It doesn’t have any big weaknesses, it’s just a solid platform to test and adjust and to dial-into, so for me it was a pretty easy transition. I’ve been racing it for two years now – I rode a Large in 2016 and an XL in 2017.

“If your bike can perform better than the next brand, you’ve got an advantage, and advantages are hard to come by.”

“Pretty much all the components on my bike are signature parts of mine now and developed from the ground up. It’s my bike now, everything on it is exactly how I want it. The right components are extremely important, you’ve got to have everything. You can’t afford to have a certain part on your bike that’s really lagging behind in performance because it can cost you race wins and championships. It’s hard enough to get through a whole season without mechanicals because of how fast we ride and how rough the tracks are, so not only do you want it to be durable and reliable, you also want it to perform really well. If it can perform better than the next brand, you’ve got an advantage, and advantages are hard to come by.

“As a racer, you just want to destroy people every weekend.”

“I’d like to win every race by ten seconds and just smoke everybody – as a racer that’s what you want, you just want to destroy people every weekend. I feel like I’m still getting better every year, and I feel like I’m still missing the mark of my best. You’ve got to accept what you’ve got and be honest about where you’re at. If somebody beats you straight up, then good on them. But if I make a mistake and somebody beats me because I crashed or I couldn’t mentally get it together to put in my best run, that’s where I get really frustrated.

“I’m a competitive person; whether I’m racing the World Cup or seeing who can throw a ball of paper into the trash can from the furthest! I am competitive with anything – but it’s always fun, everybody knows that competitive guy who’s not fun because they get too into it! I enjoy the competitive process, I don’t do it to try to put anybody else down, but I’m a racer.  I don’t put a ton of pressure on myself, I just want to do the best I can and enjoy it, and then move on.

“I like the extra pressure of being number one, because what comes with that is awesome. It’s an honor, to be the best at something, at least for a time. Since I was a little kid I had the dream of some day being a pro, making a living and winning championships. I’m fortunate to live a pretty fun life.

“I love mountain biking because it’s just fun to me – I’ve always loved anything with two wheels and MTB is a combination of skills I have from BMX and Motocross and other areas. I enjoy it for the speed and technique, being able to look at a trail and ride it how I want to ride it, and the social aspect of just riding with buddies. I like everything about it – besides crashing – unless you get it on film, then it’s worth it!

“I like to push myself to the limit of what I’m capable of. I just want to be the best I can be.”

“People ask me a lot, ‘What’s the secret?’ I think if I could just wrap it up into one sentence I would say there is no secret, you’ve just gotta use your brain and work hard.  I think mountain biking is a combination of natural talent and also a talent you need to develop. I like to push myself to the limit of what I’m capable of. I just want to be the best I can be, I know what kind of training it takes to get there and I know when I’m not quite there and what I need to adjust to get there. Thankfully, my best for a long time has been better than everybody else’s best!

“I remember the struggle, the ups and downs – not knowing what was going to happen.”

“I know where I came from, where I started, what I had and how much hard work I’ve put in along with the 20 or 30 people that had a part in getting me here: motocross trainers, my parents, friends, managers along the way, sponsors, teams. A lot of people don’t see that stuff, but I remember the struggle, the ups and downs, not knowing what was going to happen, all the injuries and the surgeries – so when you get here and you have success it’s cool because it’s not easy – you’ve definitely got to earn it.

“Believing in yourself is important, but it’s not some mystical thing. If you’re a human, you’ve got a brain, your brain has the ability to learn, and if you can learn something and understand it, you should be able to perform it at a pretty high level. You just have to believe in your natural ability to learn and understand and perform. If you do that and take each step along the way and don’t take shortcuts – really try to be as good as you can at each thing – and you build that up over years, you will be good.

“Focus on the positives, the fun stuff… there are always negatives, life can be tough sometimes. I’ve found the things that I love to do and I put a lot of work into those things.

“If you can find what you love and work hard at it – it’s pretty great.”

Close