Red Bull's Road Rage event, held over the weekend of November 5-6, was a chance for mountain bikers and road riders to compete in order to see who could descend the fastest. The weekend's big winner was former downhill world champ Myles Rockwell, who won the time trial and pack race to take home $6000. But wouldn't that be small fry for a former world champ? Cyclingnews' Les Clarke finds out that being a retired downhill mountain biker isn't all about glamour, girls and maybe the odd bit of coaching.
After winning the world championship crown in 2000, Rockwell retired from professional downhill riding in 2002, with injuries during 2001 taking away his motivation to perform at the highest level. "When you're not healthy, it just doesn't feel very good; you just want to get better and I was kind of at the end, mentally, when I won world's in 2000."
As well as the injuries, Rockwell says the face of downhill racing had changed, and not necessarily for the better. "I had figured that 'ok, unless something special happens, I'm probably going to be done,' and in mountain biking everything was winding down; the money was going away, all my friends were going away...I'd been on the circuit for ten years, and everything was changing, becoming less and less like home," says Rockwell.
Also, the financial rewards associated with something as high risk as downhill racing had dried up, and with a change of emphasis towards freeriding, Rockwell had had enough. "There was a big shift going on - freeriding and all that - a lot of money going away from downhill - so it became increasingly less comfortable to ask for the money you thought you should get, or face riding for less than you thought you should be getting paid...I wanted to get out while I was still in one piece," he says.