Joe Barnes Interview
Posted : 17/05/2017
Joe Barnes is known as many things; Enduro World Series athlete, the Captain of the Dudes of Hazzard’s Landship, former World Cup downhill racer, the list goes on. We’ve been supporting him on the Canyon Factory Enduro team for four years and felt it was time we got to know more about this enigmatic rider.
How would describe yourself, in four words, when the race clock starts?
Precise, calculated and breathing heavy.
And how would you describe yourself off the bike, again in four words?
Casual but focused. Perceptive but oblivious.
The first two rounds of the EWS were hit by some severe weather, but your results were right up there in both. I’m sure the skills learned riding in Scottish weather can only have helped! Tell us about the off-season riding you do in Scotland and how you prepare for racing EWS?
It's been a great winter this year. Fort William has had decent enough weather and the boys have been on top form. My shed gym is a focal point with all the key apparatus - turbo trainer and jumbo speakers. A combination of getting the fitness stats up with my coach, Alan Milway (new this year also), and riding the slop with the boys, I think covered all bases. Especially with the weather at the first two rounds!
We’ve just had the first EWS to be held in Madeira. Can you tell us what you thought of the trails and about your EWS race?
Madeira was a special one for the EWS. With some really unique, difficult trails and also a huge race time, keeping things pinned for 50minutes was a hard task. Usually something I long for, but at this one the consistency for me wasn't there. A defining key feature for enduro is a resilience and ability to press on when things go bad, you've got to still send it and keep the spirits peaking. With fluctuating stage results coming out in 33rd didn't actually hit my series position too badly and going into Ireland in 10th overall is a position, I am excited to be in and keen to push on and climb the ranks.
As with most top level EWS competitors, you come from other aspects of MTB racing. Tell us about your early years racing DH as a Youth, a Junior and eventually as an Elite WC competitor?
I have always been two wheel obsessed but never pushed into cycling. Riding scrappy bikes from the skip, I started cutting grass and bought my first proper bike at 14. It was then I started getting into the Scottish DH events. Me, some pals and my Dad took the wee car, hitched the caravan and had a brilliant time. From there it's been incredible, growing up in the UK scene. I raced my first WC when I was 16 (before junior category) and got 66th place. I was always a privateer for Orange and enjoyed winging it in the van, securing some alright results with 2 Scottish titles, 1 BDS victory and several top 30 WC finishes. But it was when I got involved early on in the European mass start Enduro's that I really felt comfortable. From there, once the EWS started up, racing trail bikes became a reality for me.
What prompted you to make the move from DH racing to Enduro?
I think it was mostly just a product of my environment. Ragging about hills is the thing to do in Fort William. The strict schedule of DH can also be a little straight, whereas Enduro is more multi-faceted, where a bit of nous and outside experience pays off - I like that. Time on the bike also had me from the start - loving a big day out with the boys and calling it a race.
What’s your favourite way to fill your time, when you’re not riding your bike?
I haven't done it enough recently but building new trails is just incredible. Seeing the line, hacking dirt and getting good chat. Always a top day out.
Of course we want to know about the Dudes of Hazzard! Where did the idea for the Dudes’ originally come from?
It's been steady progression really but I have always just wanted to vent some creative juices. Starting this style of low-fi, but thought out, video blogs hit the nail nicely and fitted our available finances. For me though, it's success has always been the circle of friends and portraying this in video form.
And who comes up with the ideas for the road trips, antics and adventures you document?
I generally have a master plan drawn up or a linking scene that I think is needed and then the rest is pretty spur of the moment. We all chip in but, as I edit them, I have more of an overview I want to stick to.
You’re into your fifth year with Renthal now. Can you tell us about the Renthal set-up you are using and if you’ve changed anything for 2017?
I have changed to the 35mm bar clamp this year and am loving the new set up. 50mm long stem also and the bars rolled right back. A tad stiffer and a really solid feeling you can get aggressive with.
Tell us at what width you run your bars and the reasons for your preference?
I run the Fatbar Lite Carbon 35 cut down to 750mm. It fits my physique and is a general riding style. I raised my bars a little this year and for me the higher I run my bars (within reason) I like to have the bars a little narrower to match. So I went 15mm higher and brought the bar width in 10mm. For my Canyon Spectral this set up feels so comfy especially in the steeper terrain.
And finally, we’ve seen you and the Dudes of Hazzard on many road trips. Where is your favourite place in the world you’ve ridden and why?
For the sheer eye opening culture shock, Japan has to be the favourite. Fujiton Bike Park had surreal grippy black volcanic dirt and also a quick chairlift up. It was a dream day on the bikes.