02 Nov 2020
There are few moments in downhill mountain biking more iconic than Danny Hart’s huge tail-whip near the end of his 2011 World Championship winning run. In the pouring rain, on a track that was churned to mud, Hart stormed to the title and prompted Rob Warner to ask the famous question: “How does he sit down with b*lls that big?”
9 years and another world title have passed since that tail-whip and the reaction of the commentators, Warner and Nigel Page, ensured Hart passed into mountain biking lore. The Madison Saracen Factory Team rider is now a married man and a father, but his motivation for racing is a high as it’s ever been. Especially after the break enforced by the Covid-19 pandemic. He did enjoy the extended time at home the global lock-down allowed however.
“I was happy for a delayed start to be honest” Hart confessed. “It gave me more time to prepare after getting married, to Sophia, and after the birth of my daughter, Sadie. However, this is just crazy now! It was nice to spend time at home during the summer, but I love being in the mountains. That said, I did enjoy being able to explore more from my house; just taking the bike out of the garage and just getting out there in the nice weather was fun. It’s not something I’ve been able to do much before, but I’m itching to get back to racing.”
“The first race back was really fun” Hart continued. “All-be-it just one race, it was good and I now know my pace is there. Right now, I am just setting my sights on trying to get those rainbow stripes back!”
A major part of his bid to regain the rainbow jersey is Hart’s equipment. As his followers on Instagram (follow him at @dannyhart1 if you are not doing so already) will know, he spends his time training on his downhill and trail bikes. “My DH bike is a Saracen Myst” he confirmed. “It has a mullet set-up, 29 up front and 27.5 in the rear. My trail bike is the Saracen Aerial LT. I use a full PRO Tharsis bar and stem set up on both bikes. Recently I upgraded my Aerial LT to PRO’s new Tharsis 3Five Carbon Mini Rise handlebar and Tharsis 3Five CNC Stem. The bar has a 35mm clamping diameter, which is really nice. I was sceptical at first, to be honest, thinking it may be too stiff; but it has been a great addition to my bike!”
PRO Bikegear also supplies Hart and his Madison Saracen Factory Team with saddles. The team members have their choice of the PRO’s extensive range, allowing each rider to choose the correct saddle for their unique anatomy on their trail bikes. “On my DH bike, though, I use the same saddle as the rest of the team” Hart explained. “It’s the PRO Stealth Offroad and I run the 142mm wide model. It looks great, is small so it never gets in the way and is as comfy as they come!”
Being comfortable on the bike is essential to going fast and that is Hart’s primary focus now. With Covid-19 enforcing the cancellation and postponement of numerous mountain biking events he and his fellow downhillers will have few opportunities to find their speed and rhythm ahead of the World Championships. In fact, the race for the rainbow jersey takes place before the rescheduled opening round of the DH World Cup season.
Having been postponed from June, to October the 11th, the World Championships will be taking place in Leogang, Austria. In order to mitigate against the risk of spreading the corona virus the downhill, cross-country, E-MTB and cross-country relay events will take place behind closed doors. Though this just means that more mountain biking fans will be able to tune in for the live broadcast; where Hart hopes to get Warner back to the commentator’s over-excited best. Tune-in, on www.redbull.com, at 14:20 (Central European Summer Time / GMT +2) to watch the elite men’s downhill action unfold.
Laurens ten Dam has opted for more tyre clearance and adventures off the beaten track, after 17 years as a professional on the road. Much...