GRAEME “MUDDY” MUDD THE INTERVIEW

A little loose, over the top of the berm drifting

Full Name   Graeme Mudd
Age  19
Sponsors  Monster energy, Lusty Industries, ORANGE Mountain bikes, SDG seats, SRAM, ONE industries, SPECIALIZED tyres and MAVIC

What got it all started for you,? what was your first bike?
My first bike was a green 16“ Gemini. This was the bike that I first rode with no training wheels and started racing BMX on at the age of 6. I had an attraction to bikes from the very beginning, but my main influence was from my neighbour that raced and could wheelie the whole street!!

So you started off in BMX racing what was the reason for the transfer to mountain bikes?
In 2005 I went and watched my first 4x race at the Blackhill track 5 minutes from my house. It all looked pretty cool. Big gap jumps and close racing. My first time racing was later that year riding a borrowed bike where I finished 3rd in the semi-final as a 12 year old in the under 19’s. Riding a 26“ bike with suspension opened up a whole new level to the potential of things that were possible on two wheels.

MUDDAY
Damp trails and shredded corners

Do you think much of your BMX racing has influenced your riding style?
Definitely! BMX racing is very fine line; it takes all the potential energy out of you and the track to win. I don’t look at myself as a stylish rider. I spend my time training to go fast so why sacrifice hard work by going sideways and trying to look good for the cameras. In my mind nothing looks better than standing on the podium.

Will you ever return to BMX racing ?
Racing BMX is something that I grew up doing, it’s where I began and something I definitely love doing. A lot of my 4x training is done at the BMX track so I have never completely left the scene. People always say, “but why do mountain bikes when BMX is in the Olympics”. At the moment I’m having more fun rolling the big wheels. Two years ago I would not have thought this would be the case so things might change again or they might not.

What is your favourite track in Australia?
Awaba, hands down. Not just because it is my home track but it scares me! Steep, technical but still fast. There doesn’t seem to be a top speed that you can go, it allows you to keep on pushing the limits.

Which  riders are you influenced by?
The first pro rider I watched ride was (Nathan) Rennie back in the beginning at Blackhill and so, for some reason his style has stuck in my mind and painted the image of mountain biking for me. But Jared Graves Is the rider I most look up to. He is the definition of a racer and seems to be consistent in ‘getting it done’.

Muddy is one hell of a weapon on a 4x bike 4X.Copperhead.Attack

Any other interests outside bikes?
The weekends I’m not at a race meet you will find me either at the river having a ski or having a paddle on my board in at Newy beach. Surfing is something I only really got into when I was at the stage of being able to do stuff but un-able to ride with my broken wrists at the beginning of last year.

You’ve been with Orange for some time now, what bikes do you have?
I’m on my second season for Orange now and have been riding a Large 224 for downhill that really suits my simple aggressive riding style and my trusty MIII hard-tail that triples as my 4x race bike, XC bike and dirt jump bike.

Ricky Boyer would have to be one of the most experienced racers on the Australian scene. What’s it like being on a team with him and latest edition Jack Moir?
Rick has been a huge help, not only the support with the team but I have learnt so much just riding with him. Riding behind him you can witness the experience there; it’s like riding down a downhill track is like a sixth sense to him. The team situation with our newest member junior rider Jack works real well. Between us we are all different kinds of riders so it’s good to be opened up with ideas that we wouldn’t usually think of ourselves.

Muddy-9431

What’s a general week of training look like for you? Any special training methods or foods?
My training has not changed all too much since I made the full time switch to mountain bikes. I’m still hitting the gym for two hours twice a week, I still go to gate nights at BMX (but on my 4x bike) and depending on whether I’m coming up to a 4x or DH race I either do BMX sprint efforts, XC rides or DH runs. There’s nothing ‘special’ to the way I do stuff, I just go along the basis of, is this exercise going to make me peddle stronger or not, and is this food going to act as fuel or just slow me down.

Last year you headed overseas to race a string of world cups including Pietermaritzburg, Fort William and Leogang etc. You achieved some good results weaving in and out of the 4x top twenty can you tell us a little about your experiences?
I definitely learnt a lot about racing over seas. Each race I was learning something new which made the next one a little easier. Starting on a high after qualifying in a surprising 4th in round one at Pietermaritzburg it was hard to be satisfied with any result less than that at the other rounds. Some consistency on this sort of result would have been nice but instead I got really good at laying on the track. Fort William and Val Di Sole were the only races I kept it up right. In the end I was still the new kid on the scene with a lot to learn and with a 9th in the overall World Cup series and at World Champs I can’t complain too much. I hope this year when I return overseas, 4x is still running so I can try and have another shot with the knowledge that I have now.

Berming it up Muddy getting wild through a slippery corner

You are quite often seen in the shadow of Jared Graves but have proved to be up there with some strong results and close racing, do you keep good relations with Jared?
Sure, Racing the World Cups alongside Jared last year was a great help for me and him. Having somebody to discuss and practice race lines with was a great help, and the fact that I was doing this with the current world cup champion gave me some confidence to hit it up with the world’s best. I also owe a big thanks to Jared’s mechanic Shaun Hughes for a lot of advice to get the most out of my bike and helping me out when I was stuck over there which was quite often.

At World Champs in Champery last year you made it to the quarter finals even after a crazy crash/recovery in a previous heat. Can you tell us a little of that experience?
Things got pretty hectic that night. I had a lot of ups and downs, qualifying 6th the day before I was confident, everything up until the first race things were pretty good. A crash whilst leading in the first round stopped my heart for a split second, In that second I had accepted the fact that was exiting from the race already and it was going to be another disappointing result for my overseas campaign but like a bright light from heaven to guide the way my fluorescent orange Orange MIII ended up on its wheels going straight across in front of where I ended up for me to grab by the cables, keep going and qualify in second for the next round.

Champery was your highest result (9th) in your overseas campaign. Did you feel more pressure to succeed at Worlds, did you change any of your training?
I was pretty stoked with my result in Champery even though it was a crash that saw me out of the quarter finals. It wasn’t really the pressure to do well but the frustration from some of the disappointing results that I had at the world cups beforehand that fired me up with an all or nothing approach to the race. I spent six weeks in Southern Scotland living with relatives on a farm where I could 100% focus on getting my training done. I changed things up a little with simply spending more time on the bike riding the trails at Glentress Forest and getting a load of sprints done. Or maybe it was the staple Scottish diet of haggis and Black pudding that got me my result in the end.

What do you think of the current situation of 4X on the world stage? Do you think this break away series the 4X Alliance have created is the best course for the sport?
There is no denying 4x is in a bit of a low at the moment. The separation of it from downhill on the world circuit is definitely the right turn. This will allow it to create its own identity and build as its own sport. The organisers are passionate about 4x and are out to do their best to bring it back. The feeling I got from those in power last year was that all they wanted to do was get the 4x racing done and out of the way so they could get on with downhill.

Whipping on copperheadAustralian root sections

Whats your opinion on 4x being dropped from the nationals line up? ( questions were given to Muddy before MTBA made their late announcement of the series)
The last two years of 4x in Australia has been pretty dead. It kind of came and left as a fad. It wasn’t until I raced in Europe that I saw 4x in full swing. If Australia had the enthusiasm to make good tracks and put together races like the Euro’s there would be no problem. It will make my life a little easier, I won’t have to balance training between 4x and DH but it is definitely going to be a sad day when it is dropped completely.

Riding downhill is nothing new to you either, will you focus more on downhill now with the decline of 4x events in Australia?
The decline of 4x has definitely made me put more effort into downhill since I returned home from overseas. I will ride 4x till it has been ground out and as long as there is a decent race to do I will be there. As I said, I still have goals of going to  World Champs again this year and once the downhill national series is over my training will swing 100% to 4x again to prepare for this. It’s very hard to be focused on one discipline all year round year after year. Downhill over summer has been a good break to get me keen again to get the most out of another effort at Worlds.

You recently took 6th at the opening round at Thredbo in a heavily stacked field. What are your aspirations for the remainder of the series?
Since returning home from overseas last year I started spending a lot more time on my downhill bike for a change with a goal of finally getting some results in downhill. I surprised myself with the result at Thredbo and it changed my goals a little. National series wise I am spending more time on trying to finish as strong if not stronger than I started on the DH bike. In no way am I waving good bye to 4x, my training is still 4x specific, I will race both disciplines at the National Champs and hopefully secure a spot on the World Champs team again for 4x to try and better last year’s 9th position.

Whats the best experience you’ve ever had on a bike?
There’s so many to choose from……I can still remember clear as day the first time riding my Gemini with no training wheels, that one is definitely up there but the races like last year’s 4x National Champs final where I managed to have a solid battle with Jared Graves. The world champs and racing in Champery last year where I had so much drama but was racing well and putting it to the top guys those are the experiences I seek. Sure they both would have been a whole lot better if I had won but I was satisfied.

Thick tree cover

What does Graeme Mudd have planned for the future any trips overseas?
I have managed to land a decent apprenticeship as a fitter machinist that will take up the majority of the next three to four years. This won’t hold me back from racing domestic races but has prevented me from having enough time to complete entire World circuits. If all is well you should see me again at the World Champs hopefully keeping it rubber side down this year. The grand plan is to get my apprenticeship done and dusted as something I will always have to fall back on and by the time I finish I’ll still be young with plenty of years left to get back overseas and try and do something special.

Thats all we have folks! anyone you would like to thank?
I owe a massive thanks to my very supportive parents for supporting me from the very start and also Rick Boyer for helping me out over the last two seasons. I would be nowhere near where I am right now without these people.

Words : Graeme Mudd & The Roost  Photo: Robert Conroy

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