Looking at the results sheets after the last round of the Enduro World Series in Ireland there is a name wedged in the top ten absent of sponsors or team, and who chances are, you’ve probably never heard of before. Dan Wolfe rocked up to Wicklow with no support, with kit and a bike bought with the money from his own pocket and left Sunday night having taken the scalps of some of the sport’s biggest names… Just who is Dan Wolfe?

Dan Wolfe Interview Portrait 1

ENDURO: So Dan, can you give us a little background about yourself?

Dan Wolfe: So, I used to do downhill up until 2011. I was national champion of all the categories at various points, I guess I was only Irish national champ in elites once but still delighted to have done it! I got injured in 2011 at La Bresse World Cup and kind of decided to call it a day for a while, I stop for two years and noticed enduro blowing up a lot and I was really starting to miss the sport. I was living in America so I came back and got into that, just since the end of 2013 I have been trying to get into the sport of enduro and make a name for myself and get some support.

ENDURO: Obviously congrats on the result, that is rad! Can you sum up your thoughts after that weekend?

Dan Wolfe: It’s a funny one for me, I injured myself before that race last year and when I heard it was coming back I was absolutely delighted but the closer it got the more I realised I was putting pressure on myself as much as I didn’t want to admit it at the time that I was. So I was quite relieved to get my goal which was a top ten and just delighted to experience the fun this year. Last year I was still doing physio sessions and missed practice, I turned up just for the race so I actually did not get any of the atmosphere, this year I got to absorb the whole weekend. Last year I came 38th with no practice and I’d dislocated my elbow four days before the race. I was really proud of myself at the time but to anyone watching it would have just looked like it was just another okay result, it didn’t mean much. But it was a big deal for me, I just wanted to be there and it was a pretty emotional weekend because as happy as I was to have completed it, I was still gutted as I felt I could have done really well at it. So yeah it was a big relief to manage to get a solid result and hopefully get some attention, I mean it’s really hard to break through the top 20, so maybe people will take pictures of me now… (laughs)

Dan Wolfe Interview Action Shot 1
Dan well and truly smashed his way into the top ten, taking an 8th place on Irish soil.

ENDURO: Did you always feel like you could pull off a result like that?

Dan Wolfe: I felt like I had the speed but coming into enduro I definitely underestimated how difficult it is. You have to train like an XC racer and a BMX sprinter, you have to have everything and then have put it together consistently. You have to be relaxed enough that you can go the whole day without blowing it but at the same time you need to be in the game so that when you come to each stage you can crack on and make it work. I felt like I had it but it was going to be hard to put it together. Back in Scotland in 2014 at the EWS, I actually had a few alright results and some good stages… I had two punctures over the weekend and I ended up coming 33rd overall, I think I got a 4th on a stage and an 11th so when that happened I was like, I can go fast but how do I do that on every stage? It was just trying to figure out how to do it, I had to change my riding style. I used to clip out a lot more, even suspension set up I’ve changed. You have to learn how the bike feels when you are riding tired so I’ve set up my bike depending on fitness, now I’m almost setting it up how I would for downhill. So my bike set up has actually evolved as I have.

ENDURO: What is your current situation, are you completely privateer or do you have support?

Dan Wolfe: It’s like a little fairytale actually, and all thanks to the good guys at the Bike Rack Bike Shop. I bought my first mountain bike there, well my Dad did or Santa, when I was eleven or twelve and I first got into it. It’s all come full circle, I was getting helped out my another company at the start of the year and unfortunately it didn’t work out. I went to the guys at the Bike Rack and asked them if they could give me a bike and if I could pay them back gradually. I’m not working full-time at the moment, I’m doing odd jobs and I’m not on social welfare as I feel like it would be morally wrong! I could get a normal job but I want to do my cycling at the moment so I’ve kind of put everything into this and it has been daunting as it looks like I’ve got no prospects but I figure I would always regret this and have something missing if I didn’t. So right now it’s full privateer, I bought new wheels, shoes and helmet for the race at the weekend so I’ve almost used up all my funds. So even getting to the next big race is an issue, but I think if it’s meant to be at this point it’s meant to be.

Dan Wolfe Interview Action Shot 2
Dan Wolfe Interview Action Shot 3 Dan Wolfe Interview Action Shot 4

ENDURO: We saw the Irish pretty much clean up at the weekend, what was the reason for that? The terrain, crowd or what?

Dan Wolfe: I think when Greg won last year, the Irish started believing in themselves. I remember back in the downhill days some Chain Reaction boys came over to Ireland for some races and I remember giving them a run for their money. But when Greg won last year I think it opened people’s eyes what we could do and that combined with the crowds. I was number ninety-four so I was a bit behind the pro men and women, so the crowd kind of followed them so I didn’t get the highest intensity but I definitely got a taste of it. When people scream your name and know who you are it really pushes you on and you don’t pay attention to how your body feels, you’re just wanting to do well for them and yourself. It’s almost like when football teams play away, the odds are stacked against them whether they do it to themselves or it’s the divide they get at that match, the odds are definitely stacked against them.

ENDURO: How hard is it to race an EWS as a privateer?

Dan Wolfe: Its pretty tricky, when you’re travelling abroad, financially it doesn’t make sense to take two bike bags because of weight restrictions you might only be able to bring one spare wheel so you’d opt for the rear one. You go away with everything working, tyre wise you’re packing it into your actual carry-on luggage hoping that when you’re checking the weather that it doesn’t rain as you can’t bring tyres for everything, the same with wheels, you’d like to bring a spare, set same with shocks and all that, but you might not even have them in the first place so that doesn’t even come into the mix! It’s just the whole money of it, getting there in time so you can relax, and obviously not having a mechanic if things do go wrong it can put a lot of pressure on you. If you’re getting stressed it elevates your heart rate, you get tired quicker you ride tense and if you ride tense you ride crap. At the weekend, Alf from the Bike Rack was racing but I was able to hang out in his van, he’s a mechanic so if anything did go wrong he was able to help me.

Dan Wolfe Interview Action Shot 5

ENDURO: Will it become increasingly harder for privateers, with the sport becoming more professional and more money being poured in?

Dan Wolfe: I definitely think since I’ve started I feel like I’ve been one or two years behind the curve and I’ve been fighting trying to catch up. All the guys I raced downhill with or known have got on those teams and they’ve figured out the sport and how it works and I’ve been thrown in at the deep end, a lot of others too. It really is getting harder to get a breakthrough result and I think even getting a top thirty is pretty much impossible if you’re not on some kind of deal or team, not just for the support you get there but for the self-confidence and self-motivation it seems almost seem impossible to do these results without that.

ENDURO: Do you expect some teams and companies to start coming knocking?

Dan Wolfe: It would be amazing… I would love that. I don’t know, we’ll have to see. It hasn’t happened to this point, I’ve never had anyone or any big deal happen to me before so if something was to happen now I’d probably just start crying as it’s what I want so much. I feel like the old biological clock is ticking! I’m 27, I’m in my prime, someone has to nab me now!

Dan Wolfe Interview Action Shot 6

ENDURO: What does the future look like for Irish cycling? It looks like there are a lot of young shredders coming through!

Dan: Greg’s cousin Killian, he’s phenomenal, he really stepped his game up over the winter and he has really matured as a rider. He has always had the skills, we got riding a lot and he would put a lot of people to shame. He has definitely figured out in his head and has relaxed as a rider and the win is only going to encourage him more and encourage more of the Irish scene. That’s the thing, the Irish racing has always been tight and tense but not many people have come over to experience it. When Greg won last year Irish people said wait a second, we can race at the top edge but do we have the mentality or confidence to do abroad. It is changing and already has, and I think this year’s going to be exciting , and as for the future it definitely looks good. I think we in enduro have been overlooked, it’s bad to say this but Cycling Ireland are much more road orientated, it’s a shame but federations only jump on board when they hear you’ve done well, not before you’ve done well, when they hear you’ve done well they want to associated with that. It’s a shame, but it’s true and I’d like to say it’s going to change but I haven’t heard of anything.

ENDURO: What are your plans and hopes for the rest of the season?

Dan: My parents have always been great supporters, my dad has always driven me everywhere and I’m going to try and get out to the next world enduro and I think at this point I’ve just got to put my head down even more and continue to be a bum and not have a job, and just try to strike when the iron is hot. I have one chance at this. Try to get to the next one and take it from there. It would be brilliant if someone was to come onboard now, it sounds like a cry for help but I’m not getting my hopes up for that. I think when you’re from Ireland it’s tricky to find the support, I think if a few things go for you and you start to get into that groove, a lot of things will go for you. I think it’s all about that positive energy, that positive outlook is super important. My girlfriend is always saying it and I’m starting to believe it, if you believe in yourself and believe in good things, things can happen. Of course, there’s no harm in being realistic but at the same time, where’s that going to get you?

You can keep up to date with Dan Wolfe’s racing by liking his Facebook Page.

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