When we posted
up Dan Barham’s video of Canadian-based all-mountain posse The Nomads last week, it took me a while to work out where I knew one of the guys from. When the name Chris Johnston appeared in the credits, the penny dropped. The mop of hair had gone, but the Kiwi accent and enthusiasm for riding bikes was still evident.
I used to see ‘Chris the Courier’ on a nearly daily basis when he’d drop into the shop I was working at, dripping wet from the freezing rain, another tyre worn out or spoke broken on his too-small Frankenbike, but always smiling and seemingly enjoying the hardships of a bike courier in a Wellington winter. Just a good bloke who loved riding bikes, and fast. Anyone who’d want to do a 24-hour solo singlespeed after riding all week, then returning to work on the following day, must be a bit keen (or mad). In Chris’s case, keen would edge out mad by a nose.
Who is Chris Johnston?
I’m a 27 year old male originally from the Kapiti Coast. I am now living in Vancouver, BC, pursuing my passion of all-mountain trail riding.
How did you end up in Vancouver? Was it for a girl?
Yes, I did meet a beautiful Canadian sweetheart. Canada is now a second home to me. British Columbia is amazing. Vancouver is on the coast and surrounded by mountains. Places with incredible riding like Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton and Vancouver Island are only a few hours away.
What do you miss about Wellington?
The unique culture, good mates, Kiwi music and a good cup of coffee.
What don’t you miss?
I definitely don’t miss those Welly winds that make it impossible to ride. Those days as a courier, being passed by airborne tables and chairs from cafes!
You were a relative latecomer to mountain biking; do you have any other sporting background?
I have waterskied my entire life and used to compete at a young age. However my bike was always my favourite toy.
Do you think your time as a courier helped you with your off-roading?
Absolutely, any time spent on a bike is beneficial for building skills and improving fitness. It was also very competitive.
How so? Were there some sketchy races goin’ on in the city?
Riding fast in inner city traffic is always sketchy. One ways and red lights just add to it.
Jack Bauer is another ex-Welly courier made good [now a pro road racer with Team Garmin-Barracuda]. Did you ride with him much as a courier, or on the road or trails?
Yes, we rode a lot in the city as couriers. He is an exceptionally talented rider and athlete.
Did you ever think about racing on the road?
What’s in the works for The Nomads?
For the 2012 season we’re planning on doing local, North American, and a few European races. We’re going to Ashland Oregon, Downieville California, Crankworx Whistler, Crankworx Europe, Mega Avalanche, and Mountain of Hell in France to name a few.
So is this your full-time job now?
No, I am a carpenter by trade. However, I dream of the day I could ride for a living.
Well you could always go back to couriering, that’s riding for a living!
Ha! A paltry living, yeah.
What bikes are the Nomads riding?
Santa Cruz Blur TR Carbon for all-mountain and a Nomad Carbon for the bigger faster terrain.
Not into the big wheel thing? Or not suitable there?
Big wheels are on the rise for sure, but no I haven’t been converted.
Pemberton near Whistler has unreal trails, huge elevation, and epic singletrack. Mount Seven near Golden, BC where they used to hold the Red Bull Psychosis race is also on the top my list.
What do you see as the future for mountain biking?
The future looks exciting! Municipalities and cycling associations are providing support to build and sustain trails, there are more bike parks, and technology of bikes is improving. Enduro racing is gaining popularity and I anticipate the discipline will continue to grow.
And for you?
Continue training and competing at the highest level. Riding bikes, shredding trails while having fun with mates.
A quick shoutout to my sponsors:
Santa Cruz Bikes, Icebreaker Clothing, Marx Conditioning, Suspensionwerx, MRP, Cane Creek, Ergon, Outdoor Gear Canada, Shimano, Suspension Therapy, Giro, Boeshield. Cheers.