Filip Vassen – Shimano MTB Competition winner

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We asked one of ShimanoMTB’s competition winners to talk to us in a bit more detail about the day – this is what he said – Enjoy!

First of all I will try to describe how special this weekend was, and
how much I appreciated It.

I picked up mountainbiking (again) at 21 years old, after knee
surgery, sustained after an overdose of racketball playing and mogul
skiing.
Again, because like most kids, I got my first MTB when I was 16, but
it got nicked pretty soon after I got it… So I switch to a road bike
(That I still own today, It’s on my turbo trainer now).

I started riding with this guy I got introduced by a friend… His
name is Mark Maurissen. We started doing Downhill… on hardtail
XC-bikes with barely 60mm suspension and cantilever brakes. I arranged
the shuttle van, Mark knew the tracks from his downhill racing days
and the other guy’s came a long so we could take turns on driving the
shuttle van back up.
At 22, I got my first full suspension GT bike (GT RTS-1), I started
doing cross-country rides, on Sunday mornings, with Mark. And we never
stopped.

Now, 15 years later, we are still riding together, on GT-bikes.
I learned so mtch from Mark, from how to set a bike up to how to clear
doubles and tables.
Thanks to Mark’s work in the world cup circuit, my friends and I had
numerous opportunities to meet the DH-stars like Steve Peat, Greg
Minnaar, Fabian Barel, Mark Beaumont, Mick Hanna, Sabrina Jonier and
so on.

Every time we found out, that these are just “normal” modest, friendly
people with an extraordinary talent who love to ride their bike, and
have a beer afterwards.

That makes me, I only will speak for my self, not for my friends, a
true downhill lover.
Not only to watch the races, but also to do (or try) the riding myself.
I don’t idolize any one in particular, they are all heros to me.

I’ve been a ski-instructor for almost 20 years, and I just love that
feeling of going down mountain-sides fast, (just ask Marc Beaumont, he
knows a good story ;o).
Also, these sports have more in common then most people think. Its
about fitness, technique, body position, adapting to the terrain…
It’s you and your tools (bike, skies) against gravity…

So, back to the Shimano competition.

How was it?

I could not have been better.
Having the opportunity to ride a pro GT Fury, with the tutoring of
the 2013 World Champs (mark my words!) is just a dream come true.

What were the best bits for you?

The entire concept was spot on. It reflects how seriously Shimano
Takes the sport. There was no time-table pressure so
every activity flowed in another.

Anything you struggled with?

I’m still cross that Chris Johnson beat me on the power test!!
I just can’t deal with the fact that 15% more body weight results in
15% more power!
That mean’s that I have to be 128kg to power-out 1800 Watt’s like Gee does!
Doesn’t sound like a plan to me

JUST KIDDING!!!

Tell us about a particular example of where you improved your skill/saw
something you admired.

I have taken every opportunity to ride behind Gee or Dan. It’s the
best way to watch and learn. I was tailing Gee for a moment… and
realised that I was trying to play catch with a Rampage and world-cup
champ… So I backed-down. I know my guardian angel has a speed limit
;o). Also, I promised my wife and kids to behave.
I was very impressed with how Gee can launch from
zero-speed over a jump, into a butter smooth landing. It looked like
he was on a hidden trampoline or something. That’s why these guys are
pro… I and am just… well… a fan.

How about the bike you were riding?

I own a GT Fury, so time to adapt was minimal although I didn’t ride
it since late September. I have a medium at home so I tried Gee’s
Large. It seemed like a Large is better for me.

The brakes are very good. Seems I made the right choice. I also have
Saint brakes on mine, but I have not tried them out yet.

The suspension was like a ’70 Cadillac. Smooth and sassy, I personally
prefer a stiffer setup.
The back wheel had lost some stiffness but was good enough for the ride.
The Saint shifter and derailleur were good, better then my XTR’s!

The tyre’s where not really appropriate for the dry conditions, but
they held up very well. I ‘am actually thinking of getting a set of
these for damp and muddy tracks.

I love GT’s independent drive-train suspension system. You can really
feel the gain of speed when you put some power down coming out of a
corner.

And the day generally – did you have a good time?

I was a pity we couldn’t go to Revolution bike-park.
The track in Caersws was good and it was dry. I just took
2 hours of our valuable riding time.
I don’t have that much opportunity’s to ride DH (about 4 days a year
let alone riding with Gee, Dan and Rachel!
Like I told Dan, what I am lacking in quality, I make up with quantity.
‘s why I wanted to keep smacking out runs.

After all, our biking-motto is “It’s better to have a bad bike-ride,
than no bike-ride”

How is your riding going to change after this?

I got a few good tips from Rachel, Gee and Dan about DH and Enduro training.
I am going to focus on my diet and reduce my weights training-time. So
more time on the (GT) road-bike to train endurance.
I am also determined to smash Chris’s 1320 Watt out-put off the charts! ;o)

So, bottom line.

I want to thank everybody who made this possible, but in particular
Gee, Dan and Rachel and last but not least Dan Brown, Cor van Leeuwen and Rudy Bouwmeester,for all the gifts and the hospitality for these 48 hours
of fun.
Number “44″ will always bring back great memories.

You made the boy in this man very happy!!

Thank you, very much!!

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