Jamie Edmondson finished 2020 on an incredible run. With RockShox Trek, he'll see just how good he can be.
Jamie Edmondson, 19 years old, is a simple man with a simple mission: To shred.
He was one of the busiest riders in any mountain biking discipline last year, starting eight races across enduro and downhill. In three Enduro World Series events, he took three bronze medals in the Under-21 category. In the Downhill World Cup series he showed steady improvement while racing among the elites, finishing 34th and 10th in consecutive events before busting out to take fourth place in Lousã.
That last performance turned heads in the downhill scene. Edmondson liked the track, which was wide enough to allow him to choose his line as opposed to “just one rut down the hill,” but otherwise he can’t remember much about the performance. The race was a “blur” until he got onto the flat pedaling section before the finish.
“I was like, ‘I’ve got nothing else to do,'” Edmondson says. “I was just burying myself and hoping I survived to the finish.”
As a now-former privateer, Edmondson knows how important it is to never waste one’s opportunities. On an incredibly young RockShox Trek Race Team, he’s looking forward to having some extra camaraderie, as well as resources to push his improvement off his excellent run of form in 2020.
More than that, he’ll have peace of mind.
“Being able to go to a race and not have to worry about so much is nice,” Edmondson says. “You’re just focusing on doing good runs and riding your bike fast, that’s the goal. That’s all you want to think about.”
In the following interview, Edmondson discusses his 2021 downhill and enduro plans, and dives deeper into his great day in Lousã. The Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.
How did you find cycling and discover you had a talent for it?
Jamie Edmondson: The first downhill race I ever went to was the World Champs in Fort William, in 2007 I think, because I used to live over there. Turned out I was just hooked on downhill, and I wanted to race it well. I must have been six or seven when I went there, and back then you had to wait until you were 12 to race downhill at that time in Scotland. There weren’t kids races, so I sort of did what I could. And then once I was 12 I started doing national and Scottish races, and then kind of just slowly chipped away at it and built up to doing two years in junior, and then obviously last year in elite. And now we’re here.
Lousã last year seemed like a big breakthrough for you. How did that feel, and what were your expectations going into that World Cup?
Edmondson: It felt pretty surreal. Still does I think. I had low expectations going in. For the downhill season, I wanted to get top 40s. And then in Maribor, I think I was 32nd and 29th, or something around there. So I felt I could maybe go top 25, maybe top 20 on a good day. And then I just sort of pieced it all together and got 10th in the first round. I was 10th and I wasn’t quite happy; there were still a few bits where I thought I could do better. I just knew I could do it if I went for it and didn’t have anything to lose.
I was 10th and I wasn't quite happy; there were still a few bits where I thought I could do better. I just knew I could do it if I went for it and didn't have anything to lose.
What felt like the difference to you? Why was that such a good weekend for you, if you can even pin it on anything?
Edmondson: I think I had very little pressure on myself. I had sort of already smashed my goals for the season so at that point I just kind of, well I was trying to one up it a little bit. But there wasn’t any expectation really. It was kind of fun. It was a cool track to ride, no complaints there. I just went into it very simple and relaxed. I think that really played a big part in it for me.
Was the track particularly suited to you in some ways? What were the things that you liked about it in particular?
Edmondson: I think so. The dirt there is so good. It’s like, kind of tacky but not too bad, and not real fun. It’s a track I quite like. It’s a good wide open track where there’s lines, and you can kind of analyze it a bit more. I think that suits me more than just one rut down the hill. And then I felt good on the pedaling stuff and the sprinting at the finish. We didn’t really expect that, but it seemed to help me for sure pull back a few places.
Why is now the time to join a team, and what are you sort of hoping to get out of this new relationship with RockShox and Trek?
Edmondson: I think being a privateer was cool, and it was fun, but it’s very expensive and nobody plans to do it for a long time I think. So to get the opportunity to ride for a team is pretty cool, and I’ve got some cool teammates that I can definitely help them, and they’ll help me. And being able to go to a race and not have to worry about so much is nice. You’re just focusing on doing good runs and riding your bike fast, that’s the goal. That’s all you want to think about. It takes a lot of pressure off on that front.
And all the sponsors are sick, and it’s a good bike, and I’m excited to sort of get working with them and get it really dialed in.
How well do you know your new teammates?
Edmondson: I don’t really know Tegan that well, I know his brother. And then I’ve raced a bit with Ethan before and hung out with him. And he and Vali are the same age, so we’ve always sort of known each other racing juniors, but I think I’ll get to know them a lot better once we start traveling and stuff.
What are you hoping to get out of having the support of teammates?
Edmondson: I think it is a good, good atmosphere; when it’s going well for one person they can bring that energy I think, which is always cool. And keep each other’s spirits up and it’s someone you can have fun with on the road. When you’re in new places everyone’s just in it together, which is pretty cool.
How did you come to join the team? When did you first hear that there was a RockShox Trek team?
Edmondson: Well I always knew there was the SRAM-TLD team of course, and then I got an Instagram message from John Dawson [from SRAM] on the way home — me and my dad, literally drove straight home after podiums in Lousã — and we got talking from there and had that first call. He sort of explained that they were upping the team a bit and wanted to make it a bit more of an official thing. So from there I thought it was a possibility, and it was definitely — at that time I was still speaking to a few other people about their teams, and different offers, but this was always the first pick in my head. So it was cool to be able to make it work out.
The thought of going racing on the weekend instead of just staying home and training is pretty appealing to me. So I'm gonna do as many enduros as I can I think.
What made RockShox Trek the first pick?
Edmondson: I think a mix of things. It’s cool being on a younger team, I think. And they didn’t seem to be putting too much pressure on set results. They were wanting to learn and develop more than just like show up and win, which is kind of cool. And they were SRAM and Trek, they’re the biggest companies in the world, so in those terms you can develop and learn how to get bikes up and experiment with different stuff that you wouldn’t get the chance with otherwise.
I know you’re racing enduro too. So does this is at all change how much you race enduro?
Edmondson: Not really. Last year, the plan was to do all the World Cups, and then fit in the EWS. Obviously that got changed with COVID and everything, but that’s pretty much the plan going into this year. My foundation in enduro seems to be helping me a lot and doing well in downhill, so I’m keen to keep doing it. And I just love racing, so the thought of going racing on the weekend instead of just staying home and training is pretty appealing to me. So I’m gonna do as many enduros as I can I think, and fit it in where it’s possible.
You ended up doing a lot more racing last year than a lot of people, because anybody who was dedicated to one discipline sort of had their seasons cut short. What was that like for you? And how did you develop in 2020 as a result?
Edmondson: I think doing enduro was definitely helpful. I was the fittest I have ever been I think, coming into that downhill season. It was especially cool that it was an enduro season and then a downhill season, as opposed to having them sort of jumbled up like they would be in a normal year. You could do the enduro races, get real fit and then go straight into downhill. It’s cool to get all that bike time and push it every run. I think that really helped develop me and got my head turned on a bit to racing. I was in the right place coming into the first couple of downhill races.
Do you have a preference between the two sports?
Edmondson: Downhill. I think Zermatt’s the only enduro I’ve done where there’s been uplift. I think maybe if it was a fully uplifted enduro [laughs] I might be swayed. But otherwise downhill I think. I’m still a downhiller at heart. I don’t really want to pedal if I don’t have to.
Obviously you have a lot of career left to go, but you’re pretty young to get to this point. Who have been some of the people that have supported you the most, and helped you as you’ve come up in the world?
Edmondson: My mum and dad have done a lot for me. I sort of grew up riding with my dad and then I moved on from there. And then I did a lot with Ben Cathro since I was 13, I started racing and rode on his race team and then that sort of came full circle this year and he helped me out a lot this season with the privateer stuff. And I’ve had the same coach since I was 14 or 15 with Chris Kilmurray; having him at the World Cups to sort of guide me through it all has been a big help as well. He definitely helped shape me.
How has Chris helped guide you as a coach? What’s some of the best advice he’s given you?
Edmondson: He definitely got me into the mindset of just doing the job when the job needed to be done, I think. Don’t worry about all the stuff that doesn’t matter to riding your bike really fast. Think about that later. When you need to go, just go.
I'm still a downhiller at heart. I don't really want to pedal if I don't have to.
What’s your favorite moment ever on a bike? It could be racing or not racing.
Edmondson: Probably that finals run in Lousã. It’s funny, that was the last time I rode my downhill bike. I haven’t ridden it since I’ve been home. But I think that was — it’s weird, I don’t really remember the run, but I don’t think I ever do remember any of the good runs. I just remember the bad ones. The good ones always seem a bit of a blur which is probably a good thing. But that was definitely the best time ever.
So far, so far.
When you say it’s like a blur, what do you actually remember of the run? Do you just remember getting off the course and then being happy, basically?
Edmondson: I pretty much just remember that I hit everything in the top two thirds, like fully committed. I had nothing to lose. I knew I could go out and put down a good run, so I was just going flat out on the edge, more than I normally would be I think. And then I got to the big flat pedal near the finish, and we got to that bit and Ben Cathro was there. He was riding down the tracks next to the road, and he was on an e-bike going down the road, beside me shouting at me as I went down this flat pedaling section into the jumps. And he was just like shouting at me and I got halfway along the pedal and couldn’t feel my legs, and I was like, “I’ve got nothing else to do,” so I was just burying myself and hoping I survived to the finish.
I dug pretty deep there and it seemed to work out. I don’t remember much else.
Do you remember what Ben was yelling at you?
Edmondson: No [laughs]. It was just kind of a noise. You could hear him saying your name, I can’t remember exactly what he said. I think there’s a video of it somewhere, but no, it was pretty focused, like you definitely hear him.
I noticed you also work at your parents’ cafe and inn. What’s the story behind the business? How long has it been up and running?
Edmondson: So my family have had a cafe with some guest rooms in the village I live in Nethy Bridge for just over three years, and last year took on another cafe and mountain bike trail center at a place called Glenlivet. My mum has done different catering jobs my whole life and she had always wanted her own cafe. The cafe’s next door to the house so the whole family is pretty involved with it. I work in the kitchen and make coffee there sometimes which is fun, I’m slowly learning to bake and be a barista.
Think you’ll change your LinkedIn profile from “barista” to “mountain biker” or nah?
Edmondson: I’d completely forgotten about my LinkedIn. I made it when I was still in school I think when I was trying to find emails for sponsors. Probably due an update now [laughs].
You sent us a lot of photos of a very adorable cat. What’s its story, and how supportive has it been of your career?
Edmondson: My family’s always had cats, the latest and most photogenic is called Shrek. The cats are always entertaining and don’t seem too fussed when I go away for racing which is convenient.
This is a tough question, but what would you say is the one thing you want people to know about you? What is the one thing you want them to know about you as a competitor, or as a person?
Edmondson: I don’t know [laughs]. That’s hard. I don’t know how to put it without being negative. Like, I’m not a very exciting guy to watch. I’ll probably be honest with that and say, I’m probably pretty boring in videos. I’m very consistent, I think is maybe a better way of putting it. I don’t get loose too often, but when I do it seems to work out pretty well for me.
That’s a hard question. I’m also pretty rubbish at interviews [laughs]. That might be it. I’m just good at riding my bike.