Greg Herbold: H-Ball, Hairball, HB. The first ever UCI Downhill World Champ way back in 1990. Probably the first guy to rock the goggles and pisspot lid combo. An innovator of suspension, and a purveyor of fluoro. He’s been there, done that, and signed the T-shirt. A legend in his own lifetime, and possibly his own mind. And easy to get to talk about himself, making him the fastest respondent ever for our Frankly Thursday…
Who is Greg Herbold?
Just a washed up World Champ making a living tuning, tweaking, talking and riding mountain bikes enough to afford other toys.
How old are you?
40 frickin 9!
Is that in dog years?
Dog years would be around 250.
Where do you live?
Durango, Colorado and Moab, Utah.
What do you like best about living where you do?
Shreddin’ the mountains and the desert, only three hours apart.
What do you dislike about living where you do?
Snow and heat.
How did you get involved in the mountain bike scene to begin with, and how long ago was that?
I came to Durango to attend college in 1981 and built up a 26 inch BMX frame with Schwinn Varsity parts. I kept breaking everything and hooked up with some hippies that had a sick parts stash. They took me on some long grinder rides and made me eat pot brownies.
What’s your ‘day’ job? Is it the same as your ’other’ job?
My day job is the same as my night job; I’m an international cycling celebrity 24 hours a day. I only work part time at best though. SRAM does keep me busy at times.
How would you describe your riding style?
I would like to think smooth and stylish without unnecessary body movement, but I’ve not been in any big movie segments lately so I don’t know what I look like on the bike these days. Hopefully I can check me out when the new movie I’m doing with Hans comes out.
Have you slowed down as you get older, or are you still pushing the envelope?
I can still go pretty fast when I want to and usually have at least a couple of good days a year. Like when I pummelled Caleb and Jason in Moab last year.
I like most of them, but my favorite is the Venosc trail in France. Fast, steep and some one hundred tasty corners all on loose shale… mmmmm.
What’s one thing you’ve learned in the last 20 years?
Don’t drink champagne with pizza.
What’s wrong with mountain biking?
Not a whole lot. Things and people used to piss me off but at my age being pissed off requires too much effort. Riders and industry and media take the whole thing a bit too seriously. Lighten up, they’re just expensive toys. Skinny jeans look more stupid than skinsuits.
What’s right with mountain biking?
Hot chicks on bikes, little kids riding sick trails.
Top two mountain bike developments in the last 10 years?
Most great developments happened 20 years ago, but lately dropper seatposts and tubeless tyres maybe.
All time favourite rider?
NICO. He was great to watch at the bottom of the run as he would crush everyone’s time, and usually being the last one down we all got to watch. I still get to ride with him a couple of times a year and he’s still amazing. Plus he’s addicted to RC cars like me.
What was the strangest/craziest/most shocking thing you’ve seen in all your time as a mountain biker?
I got ploughed into by a deer once on the trail and ended up half riding it for a ways before we both crashed. I stunk like rotten fur and had hair wedged in my brake lever. That was pretty cool.
What are your best memories of racing on the World Cup circuit in the early 90s?
Not going to the hospital in some sketchy country, and the after parties of course. Some of the tracks we raced on were very cool. I saw a lot of interesting looking ladies as well.
Were they really the ‘good old days’?
Seemed like it to us, because the sport and equipment were developing and changing so quickly. There’s really only one beginning to things and everyone has their own idea of what or when that was. We worked hard but had fun and drank a lot of beer. And raced bikes.
Did you really cut the course in 1990?
Not according to the UCI, and that’s what matters. Americans really weren’t very good at cheating. We had to learn that later from the French.
Top five favourite bits of mountain bike kit?
Oakley Frogskins, TLD Titanuim Skinsuit, Shoei helmet with super-long visor, neon padded AXO shorts, anything BULA. By the way, it’s spelled ‘favorite’.
Who do you look up to?
What are your vices?
Beer and moto.
Finish this sentence: “On a Saturday I like to get up and…”
Hopefully get an “old fashion” from the little woman, spend thirty minutes in the spa, spoon on some fresh rubber onto the moto, and go toss some loam around the desert.
This interview is taking forever. Send me some frickin’ cool socks or something. Later.