Overseas Adventure with Connor Hamilton - Part I

The Hamilton family is no stranger to Stan's NoTubes. Connor and his brother Louis have been repping the brand through the support of our distributor in New Zealand, Wide Open Distributors, for a few years now. Connor's history in the sport dates back 15 years and includes a European World Cup campaign as a junior. Hearing Connor had plans to tackle three Enduro World Series events this year, we caught up with him to see what the preparation looks like for an international trip that targets a series as challenging as the EWS.

In case you missed it, here's a link to an interview with with Louis Hamilton, Connor's brother, after he took the the DH win at Crankworx Rotorua.

Photos by Cameron Mackenzie and Kaycie O'Connor.

Photo by Cameron Mackenzie

Stan's NoTubes: An eight week international adventure to race Enduro World Series events in Great Britain, Austria/Slovenia, and Italy must be logistically challenging. Can you tell us a bit about the lead up to the trip?

Connor Hamilton: A couple of years ago, I managed to do well in some local races here in Rotorua, the 2W Enduro series, where I won a scholarship for NZD $5,000 from the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club. This scholarship would have funded a trip to the Enduro World Series rounds in South America. Unfortunately, the trip didn't go ahead due to the spicy cough.

Photo by Cameron Mackenzie

Photo by Cameron Mackenzie

Instead, I stayed riding and training in Rotorua, hoping I would get the chance to travel in 2021. Still, it became financially and logistically challenging to get in and out of New Zealand.

This brings us to now.

Travel restrictions have loosened. A good friend was keen. Flights are now booked, a half-organised van and my bike is dialed. I can't wait to let it rip in some European soil!

Photo by Cameron Mackenzie

Photo by Cameron Mackenzie

SNT: Do you think the terrain you grew up riding in the Whakarewarewa Forest prepared you to adapt to the different types of trails and conditions found elsewhere?

CH: The trails here in the Whakarewarewa Forest are world-class. I have been riding them for roughly 15 years now, and it just keeps giving.

However, I find the change in terrain quite challenging outside of Rotorua.

I was lucky enough to race overseas as a junior for downhill riding back in 2014, where I raced in five World Cups and got to experience a wide range of terrain. It will be challenging heading overseas for the Enduro World Series as we only get one practice run down each trail, but I guess that makes it that much more fun.

Photo by Cameron Mackenzie

SNT: Have you previously done much racing or riding outside of New Zealand?

CH: As mentioned, I was overseas for some racing almost 10 years ago. I have managed to pop across the ditch to Tasmania and Whistler, where I competed in multiple Crankworx and Enduro qualifying events.

SNT: Which Stan's wheels will be accompanying you to Europe?

CH: I have been lucky enough to be riding on the Stan's Flow EX3, which has been absolutely bombproof, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Photo by Cameron Mackenzie

SNT: As far as your equipment goes, do you plan to make any significant changes to your setup before the trip?

CH: It doesn't take much to gel with things here in Rotorua, so I've had the same setup for a couple of years now. I am pretty easy-going on my training and race bike setup, but I'm sure if I see any of my mates changing their setup for certain races overseas, I will be asking a few questions.

Photo Credit Kaycie O'connor

SNT: Can you give a brief run-through of your packing list? Enduro World Series events are known to be hard on equipment, and deciding which spare parts to bring and which to leave cannot be an easy decision.

CH: I'm traveling with just a bike box (23kg) with my Specialized Enduro bike, 1x spare Stan's Flow EX3 rim, and some riding gear. I will then be pushing my carry-on limit with 2x helmets and some spare clothes. Wide Open NZ has helped link together some overseas contacts that I can reach out to once I am over there for some extra support if I need it.

SNT: Do you have any advice for a racer looking to embark on a trip similar to what you have planned?

CH: Most importantly, try to line up a few races or events before you fully commit and base your travels around these. Then get a keen mate. Save some money. Ask lots of questions to seasoned riders regarding tips and tricks. Be sure to ask your boss for time off work. Once you're over there, just have fun and don't put too much pressure on yourself because trips like these don't come around often.

Stan's NoTubes: Sounds like great advice. Thanks again for the time, and all the best this season!

Photo by Cameron Mackenzie