34-year-old Ali Clarkson is one of the best UK´s trail riders. He is from West Yorkshire, lives in Glasgow, tours the drop and roll show and now drives his Sunlight T69L to the best trails and spots from the Ile of Skye to the Dolomites.
naar het interview

Ali, how does an English boy turn into a trial star?

ALI By struggling in school, while loving being out on the bike. We would just go riding and challenge each other to see who could do the longest wheelies, who could bunny hop the highest or who could do the biggest drop. We didn’t know it was trial biking – I mean, this was before the internet. Then I got hold of a magazine and it described just what we did and they called it trial biking. Shortly after that I entered my first competition – and came second to last. It was winter, it was freezing, I was on a standard mountain bike – but I loved it.

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What defines freedom?

ALI I think for many of us our first bike brings the first taste of freedom. You just go out and explore the world. And that definition stays for life: the freedom to go and do what you want. In general, I try to keep schedules to a minimum, I want to be free to go where and whenever I like. That is why I can so much identify with Sunlight’s ‘Freedom is my Life’ claim. I don’t want to depend on a hotel or a restaurant.

What makes a good place to stay for the night?

ALI There are some pretty good places in Scotland. Basically, a quiet road with a good view will do me. Well, ideally next to a beach or a sea location or a spot where you can have a bonfire and a barbeque.

What useful and useless stuff do you take along?

ALI Useful: I like to be prepared, so I take all kinds of multi-tools, little saws and firewood for a bonfire on the beach. I also need my bluetooth speaker, so I have my tunes going while chilling outside.

Useless: I took a fishing rod on every single trip I’ve been on this year and never used it – next year I will though. I also took a huge box of cereals and never ate it. And I took a skateboard with me and the roads were always to rough.

What does it take to get really comfy?

ALI I quite like psychedelic patterns which is funny, because I don’t even drink. So I got the brightest bedsheets I could find, and I also bought a 1920s, Art Nouveau bike poster, and I put a YouTube-Play button on the table.

What do you cook?

ALI Depends what I’m up to. When I’m out biking I tend to eat a bit more healthy. Porridge for long-term energy and at night I carb up with pasta. I’m not an amazing cook, but I’m average.

You ride your bike just about anywhere, but you were cautious of driving your Sunlight T69L?

ALI Well, comfort is what you get when you are used to something. When you ride your bike every day it becomes normal to you and you have a nice comfort zone. But my comfort level for driving was small vehicles. But the T69L drives a lot lighter than I expected and within a few minutes it was super comfortable – it was a big help that the first drive I took was a narrow, winding road in Scotland…

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Anything you like in particular about your new motorhome?

ALI The garage in the back is actually huge and that was a pleasant surprise. It easily holds my trial and my trail bike, helmets, pads, spare parts and much more. The cupboards shut themselves and that is a nice touch. As well as the electric steps that come out of the door – it’s a nice surprise for people visiting. And I was also surprised about the acceleration on the vehicle. It doesn’t set any speed records, but it is pretty strong. And I love the mattress – it is probably the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept in.

Where would you like to take your Sunlight T69L?

ALI In the UK Ben Lawers and Ben Hope are really cool for riding as well as the trails in Dunkeld. In Italy I enjoyed a flowtrail called Peter Pan – and I would just love to ride in the Alps more.

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