60 seconds with... Phil Atwill
Don't let the jibbing about fool you, when Brit downhill racer Phil Atwill gets in the World Cup start gate, he means serious business
Gangly-limbed and loose on the bike, Hertfordshire’s fastest DH racer is one of the true characters of the World Cup scene. Managing to dick about but still go flat-out when it counts, in many ways it feels like Phil’s picked up the torch from the now-retired Josh Bryceland. Despite knocking on the door of the World Cup top 10 for some time, Phil’s breakout year didn’t come until 2017, when he stepped onto his first podium in Switzerland. Off the race track, his wild riding has earned him appearances in the Slice of British Pie videos and the film Gamble, which is worth checking out, if only to see Phil prancing around Greece in a shiny suit to Boney M’s Rasputin!
Who is Phil Atwill?
A 24-year-old from Berkhamsted, enjoying life as it comes and looking to have a good time. Riding bikes and not being scared to break loose puts a bloody huge smile on my face.
What do you do?
I ride and race for Cube Global Squad, which is a dream. The off-season sees me out on the enduro moto or digging. I’ve moved to Athens with my missus, Kat, and there’s so much potential. I just need some rain so I can get stuck in!
What was your first bike?
A Gary Fisher Tarpon hardtail. It cost £150 and I’d go jumping on it every night, when I was eight or nine. Ian Warby from Aston Hill had to help me put the chain back on it every five minutes!
Current go-to bike?
My Cube Stereo 150 29er. I can do everything on it.
What gets you excited to ride?
A big crew to session with. If not, a bench and camera will see me entertained for hours.
Favourite rider to watch?
Plenty to choose from, but Ryan Middleton is a stylish mother****er.
Favourite bike film?
I’m hooked on Tate Roskelley (BMX) and Chris Akrigg’s edits.
Best trail this year?
Either Zagora (Greece) or Samoëns (France), both of which are rather naughty!
Worst crash you've ever had?
The 2012 Pietermaritzberg World Cup was my first, so I was nervous as you like. Coming into the ‘motorway’ tabletops, I knuckled a jump, hit my face on the stem and bounced off, onto my back. It scared the shit out of me and put an end to the race, but apart from losing a bit of skin I was fine. I wish I still bounced like that now!
Biggest ride of your life?
At Afan (Wales) one year, we got properly lost on the Skyline trail when it started getting dark. Chewing on banana skins trying to find the energy to get back, we ended up riding down into a valley, which turned out to be three valleys away from the car. Luckily, we found a B&B with relaxed bar staff. One thing led to another and we had a very hungover ride back the next day.
Scariest thing you’ve done on a bike?
Clips or flats?
650b or 29in?
Bike park flow or natural gnar?
Natural, all day long.
Desert island luxury?
Sorry, I can’t answer that – Mum gets a monthly subscription.
What would you be doing if you weren’t racing bikes?
Atwill & Sons – wheelin’ and dealin’
An edited version of this article was originally published in MBUK 375 (November 2019)
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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.
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