Heading up to Edinburgh, I’d played through how my feature with Scottish trials hero Danny MacAskill was going to go a million times – most of it would involve me looking on in awe as Danny’s riding did most of the talking.
While most of the photoshoot did, quite rightly, pan out like that, between Danny’s bright sparks of riding genius he showed himself to be one of the most humble people I’ve ever met, especially considering his worldwide superstardom.
Standing at the top of a fairly steep run-in, Danny swung his back wheel around so that he was facing up the hill, head first. With one swift movement he lifted the back wheel up, balancing on his front wheel, and, just as his bike was about to fall back down to two wheels, released his front brake, freeing the bike to roll backwards.
As he found the balance point between going over the bars and letting the back wheel fall to the floor, Danny’s fakie nose manual was nothing short of perfect – skill oozes from him and certainly makes you ask ‘how?’ because there’s no obvious effort with his riding.
When you’re blessed with god-like levels of skill (although he’s worked very hard to develop and maximise them) you could be forgiven for being aloof, and it’s understandable that people could misconceive Danny’s conviction on the bike as arrogance. The opposite couldn’t be more true.
While Danny was out of earshot, our snapper and Danny’s long-time friend, Dave Mackison, told us: “I don’t want to big him up too much, but a lot of people would get some stardom and forget about everything, like where they come from, but Danny is exactly the same now as he was back then.”
It was plain to see that Danny was unchanged despite his fame and popularity. He was quietly confident but welcoming and warm – meeting him initially, he introduced himself like a stranger, which wasn’t something Id expected considering how well-known he is.
When we moved over to Edinburgh city centre, before we’d even managed to set up the camera for a shot, loads of people had come over and spoken to Danny – some to say that he’d inspired their kids to get away from their PlayStations and out on their bikes, others to ask for photos and autographs. Danny had more than enough time for everyone – every request was met with an obliging and polite reply.
The young Scot has brought mountain biking to the mainstream and I heard people muttering as they passed, “Oh my God, that’s Danny MacAskill!” As an outsider, it was a fairly surreal experience.
Danny got a run-up for his next move. It was a relatively simple trick for him –a hop up a 5ft vertical wall from flat. But for the mere mortals looking on, it was like he was breaking Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity! With skill and precision, he hoicked his Inspired Bicycles trials bike aloft and jumped cleanly up onto the wall, riding with infallible commitment and self-assurance.
His conviction and skills were juxtaposed with a gentle and mild demeanour off the bike – a rare combination seen in only the most level-headed athletes. He’s like a next-generation Peaty or Tracy Moseley.
I came away from my two days as a true fan of Danny Mac and he’d certainly proven to me that fame needn’t go to your head. It was a novel experience spending time with someone who attracts so much attention. Danny takes it all in his stride, though, and we’re sure he’s never going to change.
See what happened when Danny guest edited MBUK‘s Scottish special by ordering a back issue here.