The Legend of #BostonDon

Posted on October 26, 2017 @ 12:26 PM in Mountainbiking

The Red Bull Foxhunt is a special event for many reasons. The mass DH start. The epic views of Rostrevor. But for one rider, a several thousand mile round trip resulted in a life changing experience. Almost every rider that took part in the Foxhunt got chatting to this man from Boston, including ourselves. We caught up with the legend of #BostonDon a few weeks after the madness of the Foxhunt.

Hi Don! Thanks for chatting to us. Ah, should we call you BostonDon or just Don?

Hi Ethan, thank you for reaching out. It was a great pleasure to meet you up at the Red Bull Foxhunt at the notorious bridge. You can call me whatever is easiest to remember, so I am thinking BostonDon fits. I work as a bartender and server back home and my coworkers and regulars have started calling me BostonDon.

Great! So first question we have then is, how did you hear about the Red Bull Foxhunt?

So, I bought my first mountain bike a year ago April, and I started soaking up the scene by going to websites and following riders like Brendan Fairclough because I ride a SCOTT Genius 720 Plus. I was following the World Cup Downhill series, and started knowing more riders. Well the season was over, and the Red Bull Foxhunt took place. I happened to watch the highlight video and it was amazing. I said to myself if I can get into that race I am going to Ireland to race it. It was part of my “Live Life” mantra that I started to follow about 2 years ago.

Did you have any impression of the mountain bike scene in Northern Ireland before you came here?

I had no idea about how important mountain bike riding was to the people here. I had posted on the Red Bull Foxhunt Facebook page and people reached out with advice, suggestions and offers to show me around. That blew me away. 

What was your first impression of the trails when you arrived at Rostrevor?

I got to Rostrevor on Friday morning and parked my rental. What is funny is that I parked next to Jimmy Mac’s van. He and his buddies looked like they just got back from practice. So, being me, I started chatting to them. I mentioned I came over from the States just for the race. They were surprised. I am putting my bike together, getting pumped to check out the course. On the shuttle up I met some guys that were willing to show me the trails. I about s**t my pants. I hadn’t ridden a bike park all year and I was freaked out. I slid out and crashed two times on my first run. I was thinking what the hell did I get myself into. I came all this way and I am over my head. I met a local kid, and a guy originally from Ireland, but was home from Australia for his Dad’s birthday. His name was “Irish Stu” and I laughed as I thought that was great. His real name is Stuart Gamble. The kid showed us the ropes, and we sessioned some areas. Oh my God did it help me riding with the both of them. 

We met you on the Sunday as you made the climb to the start of the Foxhunt. Aside from chatting to everybody, what were you feeling?

I came to Ireland to be a sponge and soak up everything I could experience. I did not expect all the hiking we had to do to get to the top of the mountain. I was tired haha. I was just so excited to be there, and scared of what was ahead. I didn’t do any practice on the top half as I wanted to conserve whatever energy I had left. I didn’t do my homework. I should have watched more videos. The energy of all the riders was awesome!

You became arguably even more famous when you were photographed taking a pretty gnarly spill. What happened? 

I am not really a jumper. I used to jump when I raced BMX as a teenager, and I was out of it for a long time. I picked up BMX again at 30 years old. I was getting ready to ride some Nationals and I broke my collarbone. I then broke it again a year later in CA while getting ready to race a National. It is surgically repaired. So I have been taking it easy jumping. During my timed run on Saturday I went through that jump section pretty well. So race day I go through the first 4 jumps, kinda scrubbing my speed. That last jump I hit, and the lip just popped up my rear tire and my butt hit it, then forcing me forward and over the bars.

'Wow, I got this, just gotta lean back a little.'                    'It's okay, I can still pull it back...'

'I feel it may be too late.'                                                   Brace for impact.

Oof.                                                                                       Where's my bike going?'

Spectators reacting to the spill.                                           Everything is going everywhere.

Pictures kindly supplied by Colin McIlhagger

Thankfully no one ran me over. I got up, gathered my bike and everyone was yelling to get off the course. The medic asked if I was ok, and I said yes. I had hit the ground with the chin guard of my full face helmet. I likely suffered a concussion, but I didn’t want to be pulled from the race. The medic told me to take some time. I see like 20-30 riders zooming by. I wanted to finish the race, and beat people haha. So after awhile I said, “I am going!” The medic replied, “Are you sure?” I looked for a spot and said “yes” and got back on the course.

Did you get riding any of the other mountain bike trails in Northern Ireland? If so, where and what did you think of them?

I was lucky enough to have a guy named Bernard McClure from Belfast reach out before the Foxhunt and said he would show me around if I wanted. In fact, he and his wife were in Massachusetts about a week or so before the race. We tried to meet up, but my work schedule didn’t mesh with their travel schedule. So after the Foxhunt I met him and his friend Martin and rode at Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails. That was such a beautiful mountain bike trail system. It was a lot of fun. Especially after the craziness of the Foxhunt.

We did about 9 miles of casual riding. I then met up with Cregar Elliot who I had met during the Foxhunt and did a night ride with him and his buddies on the Tuesday after the race. It was a fun ride, but my bike wasn’t shifting properly and it was scary as hell. I had brought my lights over, but the single track trails had black nothingness, and off camber roots and rocks that freaked me out. I cannot wait to go back and ride that place in the daylight.

What was the highlight of your trip here?

The entire trip was a life changing experience for me. I have so many new friends that have been so incredibly friendly and helpful. It was my first time in Ireland, and I didn’t do any tourist type things and I had the best time. The highlight was the Red Bull Foxhunt. What was crazy to me is that I wanted to take part in this crazy race and have fun, but I never expected to be so welcomed by all the people who were there. During my timed run people were yelling “Go BostonDon” in several sections, the same during the race. 

What was cool is that I went to Mont-Sainte-Anne in Quebec to check out the World Cup Downhill race. I saw Gee at an afterparty and I asked him if he was doing the Hunt this year. He had broken his pelvis earlier in the season and I hadn’t heard any news. He told me that he had just gotten the dates, and asked if I was going to be there. I told him that he would see me. I told him to remember #BostonDon.

I saw him on Saturday and he said “Do I know you from somewhere?” I reminded him of that story, and he laughed. At the top right before the race both he and Loic Bruni saw me and said “Hey, BostonDon” it was wild.

Gee Atherton was one of several big names that appeared to take part in the Red Bull Foxhunt, including (above) Loic Bruni and Rob Warner.

Can we expect to see the return of #BostonDon? What else have you got planned?

The entire weekend was amazing. So, I will be back at the Red Bull Foxhunt 2018. I was sitting in a hotel room on Tuesday after the race and I decided to capitalise on this surprise of what happened after I introduced myself as BostonDon. I just wanted to be remembered, and it was catchy obviously! So, I bought the domains BostonDon.com, BostonDonMTB.com, and a friend suggested yesterday thelegendofbostondon.com so I bought it haha.

I was thinking I could sell t-shirts, stickers, and someone suggested jerseys to raise money for my trip next year. I will be starting a YouTube channel that will highlight my mountain bike experiences. The last year I have been trying to figure out how to make a living mountain biking and this could be it. We will see. I want to travel the world making new friends while mountain biking. My website will be up soon. I have reached out to friends to see if we can come up with a logo.

You can follow BostonDon's adventures on any of the websites listed or via his Facebook page. If you have an idea for his logo, send it to info@MountainBikeNI

For interviews with the biggest names at the Foxhunt, including Rob Warner, Colin Ross, Loic Bruni and champion rider Kelan Grant, check out our YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

1 comment has been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Jake Terrell on November 16, 2017 @ 6:44 AM

Woahh! Nice article, I would love if you send me email whenever you have new articles .

Jake Terrell | activitylife.info

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