Olly Wilkins and Rob Warner explore Nepal in 2019. Credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool
When Rob Warner is not presenting UCI Mountain Bike World Cup coverage on Red Bull TV, he gets on his trusty bike with his latest project taking him on a breathtaking trip across four continents that rekindled his love of the sport.
Rob Warner’s Wild Rides sees the former MTB downhill racer joined by current mountain bike stars such as fellow Briton Matt Jones and downhill stars Finn Iles and Olly Wilkins to travel off the beaten track and discover the world’s most stunning unseen bike trails.
Warner steps well outside of his comfort zone as he immerses himself in local culture in New Zealand, Nepal, Ecuador, Colombia, Kenya and Lesotho with slopestyle star Jones shearing sheep in exchange for a helicopter ride in New Zealand, Canadian sensation Iles sampling salsa dancing in Colombia and Wilkins exploring a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas.
Here is what Warner had to say ahead of the Red Bull TV series launch on November 13:
Has filming Rob Warner’s Wild Rides rekindled your love of mountain biking?
I hated mountain biking by the time I finished my race career. Some people thrive on the pressure of racing, but it got me in the end. I was unmotivated and miserable for the last five years I raced. Doing a TV series like this has brought me back to why I got into it when I was 14. That sense of exploring has always been a big part of it, for me. Thankfully I got to ride on some epic trails for this TV series with some of them downhill for nearly 30km. It was the best mountain biking I have ever done.
What was the best riding in the whole film shoot?
Riding in the Himalayas. Can you imagine being surrounded by the biggest peaks on earth? I was right in amongst them on a mountain bike. For a mountain biker, that is next level stuff. It was insane. I have seen places that I never dreamt that I would see. It is only just now, six months on, that it is sinking in a little bit. I treated it as work at the time and we did everything we could do to make the shows good. Now I can sit back and enjoy it a bit more.
Rob Warner visits a Shaman in Ecuador in 2019. credit: Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool
What was the toughest part of the adventure?
I got altitude sickness badly in Ecuador and also Kenya. We flew to the top of Mount Kenya and we got dropped off on a ridge. It was like landing on the moon – such an alien landscape. Five minutes later, we were sliding down through it all. I doubt many people have done that on bikes. On Mount Kenya I felt drunk and, at over 5,000m, you don’t really want to be drunk riding a bicycle down right by a cliff. I felt so disorientated. I am glad I did it, though.
Did you discover and learn things you weren’t expecting?
How the Africans lived was the most surprising part of the trip. It was incredible to see the heart of Africa. I had only ever been to the race site and the hotel in South Africa before so – to go and hang out with the tribes – nothing really compares to that wilderness and way of life. They are the hardest people on earth, the way they live. They struggle every day just to get food and water, but they are happy. It was pretty eye opening.
Any stand-out moments from Lesotho? The Witchcraft Village maybe?
It was brilliant. Some of them were off their heads, after eating seeds or something to make themselves trip out. They were really excited that we were there. Every single person in that village came out and greeted us. They danced and sang and got out the alcohol. We had a good laugh out there and hung out with the tribe’s chief. It started raining at one point and he went and put a hard hat on and river waders. That was his gear for the rain. Brilliant! I don’t think they had ever seen a mountain bike. They had never had anyone from outside the village stay before, so that was an incredible honour for us and they put us up in their own mud hut. Us being there was more exciting to them than the bikes. The kids could not believe the screen on the cameras.
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