60 seconds with... Martin Maes
Belgium's fastest export is a force to be reckoned with, no matter what bike he's riding
When a young Martin Maes joined the ranks of Atherton Racing in 2013, few suspected that this unknown Belgian youth would be a future challenger to Sam Hill. His meteoric rise to becoming one of mountain biking’s best all-round talents reached a crescendo in 2018 when, after a season of enduro racing, Martin dusted off his DH bike and proceeded to claim a World Cup win and World Champs silver medal within the space of two weeks. Last year promised even bigger things, but fate dealt Martin a harsh blow when he sustained a leg injury at the Enduro World Series round in New Zealand. The drugs used to treat the infection resulted in a failed doping test and a suspension for much of the season. Martin returned to racing, and the top step of the podium, at the final EWS round in Zermatt, proving to everyone that he’s back and ready to do battle when eventually racing commences in 2020!
Who is Martin Maes?
A two- and four-wheel lover who likes to spend time with the people I love.
What do you do?
I’m a professional enduro racer, riding for the GT Factory Racing team. It’s always been my dream job.
Where do you call home?
I grew up in a small village called Neupré, near Liege in Belgium. It’s where I find my peace after the rush of the races.
A BMX. There’s no better way to learn how to ride bikes, I reckon.
Current go-to bike?
GT Force – 29er front and 650b wheel in the back.
What gets you excited to ride?
Going out with friends and finding the deepest mud we can!
Favourite rider to watch?
I love Josh Bryceland’s style on a bike.
Best trail you rode last year?
The first stage of the EWS in Derby, Tasmania – so much flow, speed and variety.
Favourite bike film?
Nothing beats watching a DH World Cup, right?
Scariest thing you’ve done on a bike?
Following Dan Atherton down a trail!
Undoubtedly at the Fort William World Cup in 2016, off the Scotland Arch jump.
Biggest ride of your life?
When I rode 180km in Lanzarote, in 2017.
Clips or flats?
Flats for riding, clips for racing.
650b or 29?
For the fun of it, 650b.
Bike park flow or natural gnar?
Natural gnar please!
Dream non-bike sponsor?
How far can you wheelie?
Very far, as long as my front wheel is spinning. But I can’t beat my teammate Wyn Masters – he’s the wheelie king!
What would be your desert island luxury?
What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
Ride flat pedals, have fun riding your bike and shred hard!
What would you be if you weren’t a pro racer?
I’d be a gardener and a farmer.
An edited version of this article was originally published in MBUK 378 (February 2020)
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Former Mountain Biking UK features editor Ed Thomsett is a downhiller at heart but has been riding bikes of all types since a young age. He's raced both nationally and internationally in downhill and enduro, and has spent several summers living in the Alps and Canada, riding, roadtripping and living the dirtbag lifestyle. Now Ed calls upon his years of experience riding bikes to the limit as a writer and reviewer for MBUK and BikeRadar. He's also an avid trail builder and has scraped out numerous steep and technical lines in the woodlands of his native North Yorkshire. These days Ed will happily turn his hand to any discipline and believes the sign of a good week is when every bike in his shed ends up muddy by the end of it.