We’ve teamed up with Jeep, who are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, to shine a spotlight on some of the ultimate renegades from the world of action sports – past, present and future. Nico Vink is one such maverick, a supremely talented mountain biker who took the bold decision to quit the official downhill racing circuit in favour of pursuing his own path. In this exclusive interview he talks about why that was the right choice, and how the freedom has helped him forge a career that’s led to bigger things. Far, far bigger things…
If you ask Nico Vink how people react to his monster-sized jumps he’ll just give you a wry smile and say, “mostly they just go quiet.” Belgium isn’t a country known for its mountains – its highest point is barely half as tall as Ben Nevis – but tucked away near the German border is Vink’s playground that is pushing the sport of mountain biking to its limits and beyond.
There are only six jumps in the Loosefest line but when you consider they’re up to 75 foot in length, it’s no surprise that only 5 people have successfully hit them all (Vink himself, Andreu Lacondeguy, Sam Reynolds, Vinny T and Brendan Fairclough). Loosefest is set to return later this year though, so it will be another opportunity for world’s best to challenge themselves against Vink’s frankly bonkers jumps.
Vink is the unlikely architect of one of freeride mountain biking’s most intimidating lines. His mother banned him from riding motocross at a young age due to it being too dangerous so instead he was a downhill racer for most of his career, picking up a string of top 20s at World Cup level. However, the racer’s life wasn’t for Nico, he says: “I wasn’t having fun anymore, everything was so serious – it’s all about training and being fit and trying to take a couple of seconds here and there. I love bikes and I love riding but it didn’t give me the return I wanted.”