It seems like every time I run into Aidan, he's either in plaster, has an arm in a sling, or has a fresh new scar to show off. Having known him since 2007, there have been quite a few of these anatomical trophies on display. Aidan rides hard, and sometimes he pushes himself and his machine just that little bit too far and pays the price. But you know that he will be back, and he seems to get stronger and faster with every subsequent comeback. When he's not railing singletrack he's dropping tracks on the wheels of steel and can brew a long black with the best of them.
In this first installment of the return of Frankly Thursdays, we present to you the ginger ninja, Mr Aidan Forrest.
Tell us the Aidan Forrest story in 20 words or less.
Palmy born, Welli raised. Been in the latter for all 32 years of my life. Average height, slightly built, ginger...
How long have you been riding?
I rode little bikes sporadically as a kid in Petone and when visiting my grandparents. Still have fond memories of the Te Awamutu BMX track. Got into MTB about 10 years ago as a distraction from what had become a pretty monotonous lifestyle and by about 2004 was legitimately hooked!
How many bones have you broken in that time?
Argh, where to start? Had both shoulders opened up at different times, scaphoid, scapula, fibula, radial head and about six weeks ago my left index finger looked like a derailed train. At least three of those were spectacular crashes. I like to put on a show.
You seem to have made more comebacks than Lazarus (or Lance)... is it hard to get back on the bike after a major injury?
Yes and no. Not so much in the sense of motivating myself to get back on, I’m usually itching by the second week. And I’m pretty disciplined around keeping fit when I’m off the bike. But the confidence takes a big hit and it’s usually a bit of a battle getting that back. I’ve come back a little bit stronger every time though. I reckon it’s important to know your boundaries but it’s equally important to push them often.
You've also been a barista in a past life. Do you have plans to get back into that field?
It’s a good transferrable skill and I’m sure it’ll come in handy if I get stuck overseas without a job, but the only coffee machine in my future is the one on the kitchen bench.
What is your fave blend/grind/cup? Is milk really for the weak?
I’m not super fussy but I do hate paying for shit coffee. My staples are long blacks for strong blends and shlongs (short-long blacks) for milder blends. Is milk for the weak? Not at all. The flat white’s a classic drink and I’m proud it originated out of Welli. But if you order a bowl latte don’t be offended if you get a soup spoon and croutons on the side.
You had a great run at the Mt Vic Super D recently yeah?
Yeah man I was stoked with that ride. Was having fun on the bike all day and feeling good on the pedalling sections. My achilles heel is usually small, avoidable mistakes but that day I was uncharacteristically dialled. The atmosphere at this year’s race was awesome. (Aidan finished 4th in the super-competitive 30-40 cat.)
What bike(s) do you currently own?
My trusty DMR Trailstar. I would marry that bike but my girlfriend would not be impressed. It’s been singlespeed for a few years but I’m thinking 1 x 9 with some burlier bits on it for winter funtimes. Number Two’s a Heckler with an all-mountain build. Lyriks, Stans Flow, 1 x etc. It’s a bit of a mongrel but it does everything well.
I love the variety Welli has to offer and it’s so centralised. If I had to pick a trail, it’d be Rata Ridge (Wainuiomata). Generally, I enjoy the high speed stuff but prefer technically challenging trails. Rotorua’s always been a favourite as well but more because it necessitates a roadtrip and roadtrips are the most fun you can have on four wheels.
Who are your best riding buds and why? (Do they push you harder or just make you look good?)
They know who they are and they’re definitely not flattering. I ride with a good cross-section of mates but I swear some of them purposely set out put each other in the box. Siftys are important too.
One? Argh... Most likely a 150mm 26”, all-mountain-y setup. 1 x, wide/flat bar, 67HA. There’s any number to choose from but the SB66 and Stumpy EVO are up there. Although I have to admit, the 650b thing is intriguing.
Do you still do any DJ'ing or beat mixing? Is it for your own pleasure, or do you play out sometimes?
The music I listened to back in the day was pretty offensive but as I’ve grown older my musical repertoire has become more sophisticated. Now I only listen to mildly offensive music. Played a couple of gigs recently but kids these days only listen to Skrillex and Bieber.
What styles/artists/producers are you currently digging?
Drum and Bass artists including Pessimist, Overlook, Skeptical, Anile and Data to name a few. Also been giving Peanut Butter Wolf ‘The Jukebox 45s’ and Jaylib ‘Champion Sound’ some love lately.
Vinyl, CD, MP3 or other?
I will never sell my vinyl. But I’ve been buying MP3s lately due to budgetary constraints. Vinyl’s big money and for practicality, digital is the way to go. If you’re not playing vinyl or CDs, Serato kind of gives you the benefit of both. Tactile like vinyl and portable like CDs.
What is the future for MTB as you see it; in NZ and worldwide.
Growth, basically. And less segregation, more innovation. Super D and Enduro are obviously going nuts and that’s a good indicator. Timed runs will always be most prominent in the elite DH and XC categories but middle distance in a sense brings together all the elements of the sport and a clock. I reckon this is a really positive thing and at the same time this is kind of fuelling innovation because the demands of your average mid-travel bike are higher. Marketing departments are obviously going to capitalise on this trend and there will always be haters. Not to say that’s a bad thing either but I’m a strong advocate for ‘try before you can qualify’. I’m sure a lot of people are sceptical about Easton’s new 35mm bar standard. And similarly with 142mm drop outs when they transpired. Whether or not companies are cashing in, the performance benefits are tangible.
And finally, what is the future for Aidan?
Uni’s been great but it’s overstayed its welcome. I’ll finish honours at the year’s end, buy myself a bike to celebrate and see what happens. Career may happen straight away, or the girlfriend and I might wind up in the US for a stint.