Popular Irish mountain biking Youtuber Al, aka Trail Advisor, talks to Emerald MTB about social media, riding bikes and other topics.
1: Al, you have become a popular name among mountain bikers in Ireland over the last couple of years, was this something you expected when you started to make your videos for YouTube.
I genuinely had no idea how it would work and was very nervous putting out my first “talking” vid. I’ve always had an interest in videography and a small bit of interest in photography too so I was always messing with Gopros and posting vids to social media. But this was the first time I went in front of the camera to introduce one. Looking back at the first video I see loads of things that “didn’t work” that I wish I hadn’t done, but that’s a learning curve that I’ve come to realise.
In terms of becoming a popular name! I don’t know if it’s that popular but is pretty cool when someone says hello and “love the vids” when out shredding! Something I don’t think I’ll get used to.
2: Was it something you had always wanted to do or were you just making the videos for yourself and started sharing them.
When I first started mountain biking I was always on the hunt for the next trail and used all my resources to find them. Strava, Trailforks, Youtube, asking mates, asking strangers!!! I always thought that if someone did a YouTube channel explaining the trails they were riding they’d be really useful. I really wasn’t sure how it would sound as doing a trail at full tilt and talking is pretty tough! But I did a few vids and thought…. Yeah, heavy breathing is annoying but the info and interaction is cool!
I always watched YouTube vids of the likes of BKXC and Seth’s Bike Hacks and loved what they did.
3: You have a strong following on social media Al, does it put pressure on you to make more or does it bother you.
I don’t put any pressure on myself to make vids at all, I’d like to think that I put out enough content to keep people happy and also not so much as to annoy people.
4: Do you ride more now than you used to or is it that Covid has allowed you to get out more?
Yeah. I ride quite a bit! Business has gone to the dogs with my normal gig. I run a conferencing audiovisual company and there have been very few events in that sector since March 2020.
_5 : We see you on an e-bike and a standard bike and without having the usual debate on e-bikes. Which one do you prefer and where do you see the e-bike fitting in the future? _
I’m just back from Morzine and every 3rd or 4th bike was an eBike. Even on chair lifts and gondolas! Ebikes definitely have a place in the future. Every e-bike hater out there is a potential e-biker! They just haven’t tried one yet!
6: You know the Ticknock trails very well and your videos have helped other people get to know them, which is your favourite trail and why.
Ticknock is 5 min drive from my house. 35 min on the bike (25 on eBike!!)
I love the place. My fav trail changes all the time. I’m currently digging T-connector Mojave into Jeffrey Jungle into Leap of the bunny. It’s a flat out 3-minute trail that has everything. A mention for Romper too! So gnarly
7: Which do you enjoy more, a trail that flows or a tech trail?
Boring answer but I really like both. Coming from BMX, flow trails are class and love a good pump like Tickety Boo in the GAP. So much fun. But then on the other hand a trail like Red Tractor in Ticknock is serious craic too.
8: As a regular mountain biker, what are your thoughts on the future of mountain biking in Ireland?
The future of Mountain biking in Ireland is huge. Just going by the amount of kids wanting to sign up for Enduro Racing. I volunteer as the Enduro representative for Cycling Ireland’s off Road Commission and organise assessments so 12/13 year olds are eligible to race. The talent and amount of kids is unreal. The GAP has also contributed to the popularity of Mountain Biking hugely. It’s such a great place to meet up and shred.
9: You have got some of your family and friends into mountain biking, how does it feel to see them shredding the trails?
Yeah, my daughter loves to shred when not horse riding! I really love bringing people out and introducing them to Mountain Biking. Nothing better than seeing the smile on someone’s face when they’ve done the exit of a trail like Red Tractor for the first time!! I have completed the Trail Cycle Leader instructors course so I’m “qualified” to do it now! I have also set up guided Mountain Biking tours for any standard.
10: If money was no object what bike would you buy and why?
I really just want bikes that work! Mechanicals annoy me. I’m in love with my Santa Cruz Bullit. It is soooooo capable and I think I might be faster going downhill on it than I am on my normal analogue bike.