Thomas Vanderham- Getting Evil
We always talk about racers turning up at “freeride” events and showing those huckers how it is done. What we forget is that some of those huckers could show us a thing or two on the racetrack, like Thomas Vanderham. As at home between the tapes as he is jumping of a cliff, the Canadian has signed up to be part of the new Evil Bikes setup in 2009, exciting stuff!
DW: We will start quickfire to warm up, what is your favourite….
Pizza Topping: Cheese
TV Show: The Office
Event: The Rampage
DW: As we all know you are on Evil Bikes for 2009, how did it all come about?
TV: I started talking to some of the guys involved back at the end of 2007. It was clear to me that I would be making a bike sponsor change and I decided that Evil was something I wanted to be a part of.
DW: You rode a Sunday at the Rampage, have you had time on your new Evil rig yet? How much input have you had on the frame design so far?
TV: Yes I have been testing the new Evil Revolt for a number of months now. It’s been awesome to work with Dave Weagle, I think his mind works on some whole other level. I leave the math to him and my input on the bike mostly has to do how it feels and reacts in different riding environments.
DW: Whats on your schedule for 2009, have you got any particular goals or areas of focus?
TV: My main focus every year is on films. I try to put most of my energy into filming one complete video segment. On top of that I do a few contests, bike festivals and a bit of coaching up in Whistler. Its going to be a busy year with Evil launching a lot of new bikes.
DW: It seemed a little strange with the Rampage back on the schedule this year after Freeride seemingly going down more of a slopestyle route in recent years, was it good to have it back? Which type of event do you prefer yourself, natural or man made?
TV: It is great for our sport to have the Rampage back. I think the riders all agree that it is the hardest, craziest and most uniquely Mountain Bike event ion freeriding. It best represents how we want our sport to be seen, so Im glad they brought it back.
DW: Following on from that, where do you think the future is for the freeride side of the sport?
TV: The amount of talent that’s coming into the scene now is out of control. In the future we will see a lot of the tricks we see on the dirt jumps done out on the mountain.
DW: You come from more of a race background, what stopped you pursuing your career in that side of the sport?
TV: I’m not really sure, I never really made a conscious decision to go one direction or the other. I think I just had more fun freeriding and ended up making a name for myself in that discipline. I have a huge amount of respect for racing still.
DW: You do pop up at major races from time to time still though, are you planning to do so again next season?
TV: Ya, I hope so.
DW: Although there is some real fast youngsters now coming through now, for a country with the terrain, riding spots and number of riders that Canada has it has been relatively unsuccessful in producing top class racers in recent years, why do you think this is? Do you think there would be more successful Canadian racers if the freeride scene was not so huge, does it drain the talent?
TV: It might. That’s a very good question, I think in other countries there is a racing culture that we lack here in Canada. Kids are more into hitting the dirt jumps than going to race. I hope its changing though.
DW: Who would win in an arm wrestle between you and Steve Smith?
TV: It would be a battle, he’s a strong kid. Ill go with me.
DW: When your preparing for a big gap/jump/drop are you unsure about the outcome? At what point is the decision made that something is too risky? When your 50/50 about something? Or must you be close to 100% sure that you can ride it out?
TV: Good question I get a lot of people asking me that. First I make my decision to do a gap or not. Sometimes it’s harder to say no to something than it is to say Ill do it. From there I go about figuring out how I’m going to hit the gap, speed, pop… This is done mostly through past experience, I may think back to another jump I’ve hit to compare. Once the time comes to ride I have to be 100% confident that I can do it. Of course accidents happen but before I leave the lip there can be no doubt.
DW: Have you ever gone down and thought, “I’m not getting up from this”?
TV: Yes, a couple times.
DW: How the hell do you bring back those MASSIVE whips?
TV: They don’t always come back
DW: Finally, given freeride has always seemed like the rebel alternative to downhill racings organised fun and bulging rule book, withn the UCI have now banned skin suits from DH racing does this mean we will see you freeriders rocking up to events next year wearing lycra in order to stick 2 fingers up at the establishment?
TV: Haha, no I doubt it.
DW: Many thanks for your time Thomas, is there anyone you would like to thank?
TV: Of course I would like to thank my sponsors Evil, Dakine, Shimano, Marzocchi, Oakley, Troy Lee Designs, Pro, and Acros.
Photos- Sven Martin