Coming late to Mountain Biking, this lovable “ranga” as he is affectionately known by mates, has quickly risen through the ranks. With a distinctive flow and a riding style that separates him from your average cross country racer, he has attacked the local and international racing scenes with much success. So what makes Josh Carlson tick we thought we’d find out.
Name : Josh Carlson
Age : 25
When did you first start riding?
I started riding mountain bikes in 2006
What was your first bike ?
A diamondback outlook sport 500 buck jobbbie flat pedals board shorts.
and your first race?
Penrose state forest, it was a Wollongong MTB clubby and I ended up winning
What do you love most about mountain biking?
Shredding haha cornering speed everything! Just going super fast and being super fit.
What do you like least about Mountainbiking?
Diet haha having to watch what you eat and err be really super disciplined during the race season. It would be good just to eat what you want and not worry about being skinny and fit all the time.
What is your favourite track in Australia?
Probably the Stonefly track down in alpine Victoria
Outside of Australia?
North Umpqua in Oregon . I had the chance to shred that this year a little bit after the Ashland Super D. It was just myself and adam craig for four and a half hours just going full piss, on blind trails, in these massive old growth forests.
For sometime you’ve been with Rockstar Racing but recently we’ve seen you in the Giant Factory kit. Can you tell us whats going on there?
It was just a personal decision with the direction I ‘m aiming for next year. I want to focus mainly on Super D and enduro next year in America whereas Rockstar are a predominately cross country race and endurance based team. So I made a personal decision I’d like to wear the giant factory kit for my benefit to gain a bit of support from the global factory time. So I went back to Giant Australia who were keen to support me and Rockstar were happy for me to make that decision. So now I’m back under the Australian Giant racing banner.
In mid 2011 you headed for America to do some racing. Can you tell us why you opted for a more American based season over a European season?
That was decided on the way home from the stonefly launch weekend with Johnny Hardwick. I had a trip planned to head to Belgium, race a few world cups and race cross country races in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany staying in Gent. It was pretty much all done and dusted and booked. Anyway so I was talking with John and he was mentioning a few things about the States and it sort of sparked my interest. So when I got home the next day, I rang a few buddies Amiel Cavalier, Rando, Paul Rowney, Sid Taberlay and all these other guys who had raced in the states before. It seemed a decision that was more suited to my riding and what I wanted as a racer, more so than europe.
Do you think the cross country scene in America is thriving more so than the Downhill scene is at the moment? As far as racing culture is concerned?
I didn’t really see the downhill scene but the All Mountain Super D scene is thriving at the moment. I mean Downieville has a thousands spots and it sells out in minutes. Same thing with the Ashland 12 mile Super D. Next year there are quite a few series that poping up in the Super D Enduro scene. So I think thats the latest one thats about to go boom and over take possibly both the Cross country and downhill.
When you were in America you were able to mix World Cups with a few of the classics such as Downieville and Ashland?
Well Downieville and Ashland were the best things I’ve ever done. I rocked up to Ashland and it was the first Super D I had ever done. You go up 8000ft and drive up the hill for 20-30 mins and your ears pop. Then your descending down the hill so fast for something like 45 min before your back in the truck heading for the top again and your ears haven’t even had time to equalise yet. It was just some of the most amazing riding I have ever done that just triggered my interest in Super D really. I ended up in 4th place about thirty seconds off adam craig. Then Downieville that was just on another level. The cross country race on the Saturday was just a 50-55 minute fire road climb around this epic valley.
So steep in sections that it was genuine granny ring climbing in parts. Then you get to the top and its flat stick and a quick pinch climb and straight into the downhill. They had to change it a little because of so much snow this year and your coming down this hill and there is about 15 ft of snow either side. Then when you clear that your bombing into knarly rock gardens, downhill sections and real technical sections. So to put it together over two days was really hard. So got second in the cross country and was feeling really confident for the Sunday Super D. I think I was about 3 mins down.
Woke up Sunday morning felt great and took off had the perfect run for the first section. Then my heart was ripped out when I got a flat and I busted the rim and tore a hole in the tyre. So tried a tube that busted and another tube and it busted too. So gutted. Biggest rollercoaster of emotions for two days. haha.
Soon after Downieville you actually injured yourself didn’t you?
It was about 4 days after Downieville and i was all set to head to Crankworx
and race the enduro. So I was doing a little training in Boulder CA in a mountain bike park there with my girlfriend. She finished riding and I went to do one or two more laps and I came into this table top jump a little too hard. I over cleared and over rotated and landed straight on my head and wrist. Smashed my right wrist into pieces and broke my collarbone in half. Problem was I thought the wrist was dislocated so I tried to pull it and put it back into place. It was a lot like the sound of gravel in a pvc pipe. Four days later I was headed home.
It happened at the end of July and I only recently returned to the race
circuit first with a Super D clubby at Ourimbah in November. Unfortunately I have to have a quick operation mid December to get the plates and pins removed.
So expect to see you back ?
I will be back for Buller and then of course as many races after that.
Although you planned to race Belgium etc have you raced in Europe before?
Last year (2010) I raced the Champery and Val di Sole World Cups which were my first attempts at World Cup racing. It was Brutal. We’re talking starting fields of a hundred and fifty riders and you’re rider one hundred and twenty. Then the course is just insane on top of that. So that was Champery. Then in Italy in Val di sole there were two hundred starters, I mean there is a whole lot more to contend with over there.
I understand you’ve had a long running interest in motocross. So why choose a life in cross country?
I raced motocross up until about 2005 from when I was about ten years old. Then I had a few big crashes and my sponsorship fell through. My main personal sponsor his son slipped into a coma, so I bit the bullet, and took the on the debt myself. Which kinda wiped me out so I just cancelled my bikes for 2006. I went along to my first race just for the fun of it , I ended up winning and I loved it. I didn’t lose another until 2008 which is when I started training and taking my racing more seriously. That was it really.
Do you still race any motocross or do any cross training with motos?
No. I haven’t in a long time not since 2005 but I do think I will go back at some point. Not necessarily seriously but I do hope to ride again.
Do you think any of your moto style has transferred over to your cross country riding?
I think so yeh hahaha I think I ride a little different to most because of that background I mean its only a 10kg vs a 95kg Honda 450.
Whats a average week of training involve for you?
A lot of road riding, some gym, some core with a few mountain bike rides thrown in. Most days twice, sometimes three times a day of training.
Which riders do you look up to and why?
Well I don’t really look up to any mountain bikers really but coming from motocross as a kid, I looked up to riders like Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Carmichael, Ricky Johnson and Damon Bradshaw. There killer styles and attitude. Guys like local Jay Marmont his determination and guts. The commitment thats what I look up to.
Up until 2006 were you doing any mountain biking?
Up until 2006 I didn’t really know mountain bikes existed. So i’m a little of a late bloomer. My dad said why don’t you give it a go so I took my girlfriend, a box of shapes the bike had at the time and raced. That was it .
The first round of the national series is over. What did you think of the new formats, the Super D and XC Eliminator?
I liked it obviously because I won ahaha but the formats were cool because they give the rider overall a chance. I mean the cross country olympic format is the focus but its so much fun to race a Super D and Eliminator. Maybe I’m bias because I love the short sharp fast technical races such as Super D are what I want to focus on. The all mountain format over the three days does offer a different aspect to the weekend makes the weekend a little different. Still you have to pick your poison and choose where you want to be the best. Be that best at everything or purely cross country and sacrifice the other ones. It just depends where your focus is but I think overall its a good format. It ads a bit more excitement to the weekend.
You were third in the overall coming out of Perth. Were you happy with the result? What do you think of the timing in regards to your result?
I was definitely happy the result especially coming back from injury I wasn’t expecting to be up there again so fast. At the same time with the timing, I found it a little frustrating because you have a cross country race for two hours but six minutes of racing to make up all that time on Sunday. Again I would be biased because I won both the races on Sunday and I still couldn’t make up the time. However a race such as buller where the Super D will be longer timing will probably work out better. I would prefer points but timing is ohk.
You’ve already mentioned this briefly but what are your plans heading into the remaining nationals?
Try and get back on form as quickly as possible. A lot of people are going to be on form heading towards Australian Championships especially heading into a Olympic year. I want to be getting on the podium and hopefully winning races. It be great to head to America next year full of confidence even better if its with a Australian champions jersey.
Thats all we have time for anyone you would like to thank?
Giant Bicycles Australia, my coach Mark Fenner from FTPtraining.com, Ronde gloves and socks and Spearmans Cycles Wollongong.
Words : Robert Conroy Josh Carlson Photos :> Robert Conroy