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INTERVIEW: Rotorua Mountain Biker, Connor Hamilton

Connor started riding a bike at the age of 5, as he grew older, he found his weekends were taken up by shuttle runs, amongst friends in the Rotorua Forest. 

Now an apprentice builder - we chatted to Connor about what got him into riding and the challenges he's faced along the way. 

• April 30th 2020

The one event that would stand out to me would have to be the Whaka100. This pushed me a lot as I was coming off a Global Stabilisation Shoulder surgery and having this Goal of finishing the Whaka100 made me train hard through winter.

Wide Open: Hey Connor, can you tell us a bit about where you grew up?
Connor Hamilton: I was born in Rotorua as the only NZ citizen in my family. I went through St Marys primary school then on to John Paul Collage to see out my schooling years. I left school early to pursue my riding dreams leaving for a 6 month trip around the world following the UCI Downhill Series.

WO: Are you training to be a builder at the moment? Can you tell us a bit about your average day at work?
CH: I am currently an Apprentice Builder and have been for 3 years. My average day consists of telling the boss how to fix things and smashing out a lot of quality work.

WO: What age did you start riding a mountain bike? What got you wanting to ride?
CH: I started riding a bike around the age of 5 and didn’t venture into the forest until around 7 years old. My old man and his mates had a wee riding group called PORKS ON FORKS and they used to make little videos of their day out riding where there always was a crash or two on film. I used to watch these and want to go out and do the same, so my brother and I started mountain biking more often and meeting friends that did the same. South star shuttles were the thing to do on the weekends and school holidays so we pretty much lived on the shuttles and rode all day with a big group of us.

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"My brother and I started mountain biking more often and meeting friends that did the same."

WO: When did you decide to compete in events? And what appealed to you about it?
CH: My dad and brother always went and watched downhill events and the next thing you know dad was the Masters National Champion and Brother Louis was the U15 National Champ. I then started going to these races to be sweeper as I was too young to race but loved the whole vibe the racing scene had. After roughly 4 years of downhill events, my mum got a trail bike which happened to be the only trail bike our family had. My first enduro type race would have then been the Triple Crown back when I was 14/15 where my dad and brother raced their downhill bikes and I was lucky enough to get out on mums trail bike.

WO: Can you tell us about your favourite event so far?
CH: The one event that would stand out to me would have to be the Whaka100. This pushed me a lot as I was coming off a Global Stabilisation Shoulder surgery and having this Goal of finishing the Whaka100 made me train hard through winter. I would have never thought this event would be one of my favourite events but it showed me lots about myself and got me into the Enduro side of mountain bike racing. While saying this is my favourite event, I don’t think I'll ever do it again.

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"Coming into the 2020 season I felt like it was going to be a goodie with my first 2 EWS rounds booked and I had also received the Mark Dunlop Scholarship to help out with another 2 rounds of the EWS."

WO: Your trip overseas this year has been postponed - can you tell us where you have travelled to compete before?
CH: 2014 was my last year in juniors for the UCI so I managed to get to Cairns - Australia World Cup, Fort William - Scotland world cup, Windham - USA, Mont St Anne - Canada World cup, Val Di sole - Italy IXS Cup. I have also raced in the Crankworx Les Du Alps and Whistler.

WO: New Zealand is currently in a lockdown due to our Covid-19 status, what are you planning on doing while in isolation?
CH: I plan on trying to keep my fitness up until we know when the next races are going to be and maybe rebuild my bike 1 or 2 times.

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WO: Can you tell us how have you stayed motivated while your trip has been postponed?
CH: I will just focus on having fun and playing around on the bike when I can.

WO: What would you say to someone interested in taking up Mountain Biking?
CH: Get a few rides out the way where you’re struggling to make it up hills and then your fitness will come and you will be able to do a lot more as well as having loads more fun. Keeping it fun is the best thing to do.

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