Animal Pro Rider Interviews Part 1: Sam Hodgson Pro Dirt Jump MTB

So…. we were sitting around having a chat between some of us at Urban Surfer and our friends at Animal the other day and we realised we hadn’t spoken to any of their riders in a while. With this in mind we set up a few interviews and ended up speaking with professional dirt jumper Sam Hodgson and pro surfing brothers George and Sunnie Timpson (Featured in Par 2 and 3). Here are the results, we hope you enjoy!

We thought we would start with Sam as he is newest to the group and we might be a nice gentle warm up for him. We decided to stick to the basics to get a feel for what makes him tick and of course got a few hints and tips for anyone interested in following in his footsteps.

Who’s Sam?

18 year-old Sam Hodgson is from the Isle of Wight and now rides for Animal and Saracen as well as a few other brands. A professional dirt-jumper and free-rider, Hodgson has achieved his first formal brand partnerships, which will hopefully help this young man propel his riding career onto a new and exciting level.

Growing up on the Isle of Wight, Hodgson learned much of his skills from popular free-riding Zimbabwean-turned GMBN presenter, Blake Samson, who himself was a Saracen rider for a number of years.

It is hoped that Sam will now push on and become an integral part of the Saracen/Madison development team. So without further ado here’s what we asked him and what his thoughts were. . . . . . . . .


Ian: HI Sam. How’s it going? Can you give us a bit of an introduction about yourself?

Sam: I’m 18 years old, just breaking into the scene of pro mountain biking. I grew up on my family farm on the Isle of Wight, but ever since I jumped on a bike, I knew it was all I wanted to do and farming wasn’t for me.

From building 1ft jumps in the yard out of bricks and wood, to now building 10ft lips and carving my way through the landscape; the progression is endless. The MTB scene on the Isle of Wight is exactly what you make it; so for me wanting to ride big jumps I have had to build them by myself and with a couple of close mates.

After having watched Blake Samson ride growing up, I learnt that being a professional mountain biker was an achievable goal, and so I never had a plan B, because I never considered needing one. I have just finished the last round of the 2017 Dirt Wars, so with winter now ahead I have lots to focus on and learn before next season, with many projects on the horizon.

Ian: How long have you been riding and what got you into it in such a big way?

Sam: My Dad has always been into cycling and having a mountain bike centre on the farm has meant bikes were never something I shied away from. Ever since I was very young I was always a bit of a daredevil, from trying to jump the farm quad bike, to finding the biggest tree to climb. But, once I turned 14 wanting to do massive jumps and tricks became my main focus, and so the era of building jumps began.

Ian: Describe your perfect day’s riding?

Sam: To be honest my perfect day riding is with all the bros. Providing you’ve got good weather, sick jumps and a high level of stoke, you’re bound to have a good time. Topped off with a fire, a BBQ and a few beers, it’s near impossible to walk away an unhappy dude.

Ian: The UK seems to be a bit of a talent factory for pro riders at the moment, why do you think that is?

Sam: I guess the level of progression is unreal. A flip whip is a normal trick nowadays, and in the UK there’s just so many spots to ride. Dirt jumps are never provided, if you wish to ride them, you have to build them, and so loads of great spots have arisen all over the country. With a good spot, there’s an equally good rider.

Ian: Where is your home track? What do you love about it?

Sam: My home track could not get much closer to home. Where I have had the opportunity to build it with the digger, I went a bit mad and have created one of the biggest dirt jumps in England basically in my back garden. Getting used to riding a big jump that works so well makes travelling around and riding other places just that bit easier, because nothing has me thinking ‘that’s too big’.


Ian: Have you had any big off’s/ Injuries yet?

Sam: As it goes, I don’t really get scared of crashing, so I always send it massive. To be honest, if I don’t have a session and have a few slams then I haven’t tried hard enough. In terms of bad injuries, I’m pretty lucky— still able to bounce my way out of most crashes. I tore up my knee pretty bad on my last day in Whistler this summer and the tissue is still trying to grow its way back; but other than that just an endless list of concussions.

Ian: What is it like working with Animal? How will it change things for you?

Sam: Animal has always been a really prominent brand in my life, inheriting clothes from Blake. So stoked to be able to restock my draws with fresh looking clothes, but I have pretty much been Animal head-to-toe for a few years already.

I’m really looking forward to working on new projects with them and cannot thank them enough for all the support they’re giving me. Animal has really elevated me in people’s opinion of me as a serious pro-rider and given me the opportunity to travel around the world, pushing myself and the sport, as well as looking cool whilst I’m doing it.

Ian: What’s your top tips for setup?

Sam: Use an old tire, cut a small donut shape out of it and put it between your cranks, this stops your pedals from spinning when you’re doing tailwhips and various other tricks that involve taking your feet off.

Slam your back wheel as far forward as possible, so when you’re doing spins and tailwhips, the bike will be far easier to manoeuvre.

Move your brake really far away from your grips, so when you’re doing bar spins it doesn’t get in the way as much.

Ian: What would your advice be to someone just starting out?

Sam: Find a good mate to ride with and push each other’s progression, because I always send it so much better when I’m riding with other people who are as eager to progress as me. Also, no dig no ride. Never take jumps for granted and try and create jumps that are unique and yours.

Ian: What is the best place you have ever ridden?

Sam: Whistler. Because anywhere that lives and breathes mountain biking is impossible not to fall in love with.

Ian: What’s your plans for next year?

Sam: I want to try and do as many video projects and competitions as possible. I’m also going to try and vlog as much as I can of what I get up to on all of my adventures. From road trips down to Spain, to trips all around the world and the big competitions that I plan to compete in, I hope to cover it all.

I’m working on lots of media projects, that involve a hell of a lot of building and planning, that I am extremely excited about. I’m also hoping to go on another big trip to Whistler next summer, with a quick stop at Colorado Freeride Festival on the way. But I am always open to new ideas and constantly searching for new and creative content.


We would like to say a massive thank you to Sam for giving up his time to speak with us and really look forward to watching him develop over the next few years. If you haven’t seen what he does already I seriously recommend you check out his ‘backyard’ below:

And if you would like to get your hands on some animal kit go to: Urban Surfer/ Animal


Ian Hughes

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