Interview de Joao Sousa

Interview with João Sousa

Wednesday 6 May 2009
by Ben Swales
popularity : 6%

JPEG - 151.1 kb Tribal Zine loves Portugal! We had the opportunity to go there a few years ago and ride some rocks, and were really impressed by the level of the local riders, who at the time were all riding monty 20" bikes, by the beauty of the spots that we rode, by how nice everyone was (including a certain Jorge "Mister trial" Ferreira), by the sun, sea and Vinho Verde and by the portuguese girls...

Portuguese trials now has an online face, www.trialportugal.net, a quality website which covers all aspects of Portuguese trials: news, results, videos, etc. and which is key to the organisation of the new Portugese Trials Cup. Over the last few years, trials has really taken off in Portugal. Until recently it was run to BIU rules, but 2009 marks a turning point in the development of the discipline. In effect, after a period during which the sport did not really enjoy any recognition, trials is coming to the fore and is now affiliated with the Portuguese Cycling Federation (Federação Portuguesa de Ciclismo) and with the UCI (and their rules).

JPEG - 87 kb It is within this new framework that the first ever Portuguese Trials Cup is organised, the first round of which took place on the 22nd of March in the village of Terras de Bouro. It was dominated by João Sousa, holder of the national 2008 title, and his brother Daniel. We will feature an article on this Cup in the next few days. For now, here’s an interview with the young champion, carried out by Trialportugal.net on the 6th of March, in which he tells us about his season and travels, his vision of portuguese trials and his recent switch to 26".

Who is he?

    • Name: João Carlos Soares de Sousa
    • Date of birth: 25/06/1987
    • Height: 1.9m
    • Weight: 88 kg
    • Hobbies: moto & bike-trial

Interview:

How did you get into trials?

I first got into it when I was six years old, thanks to my dad, who was a moto-trials rider. At the time I was still too young to ride a motorbike, so my dad bought me a Monty. From then on my passion just grew.

When did you first enter a competition?

It was in 1997, I was ten. The comp was in Penha, Guimaraes. I competed in the Benjamin category and won, I went on to win the series too!

What has helped you most in your sporting career?

Sadly, trials is still quite a new discipline in Portugal, and to begin with, I just had to learn on my own. However, help from my brother and my father kept me motivated, which in turn helped me to improve my riding. Some time later the "Jorge Ferreira Trials School" opened, which I went to for a year, after which I benefited from advice and help from Hugo Conceiçao, an old Elite rider, which really helped me to improve.

How did you feel when you were crowned 2008 champion?

The feeling is hard to explain, it was the result of enormous effort and commitment. I felt fulfilled, and as though I had gained a whole new lot of responsibilities. Big thanks to my parents, and to my brother who, despite being my biggest adversary, is my biggest supporter.

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Your brother is your biggest rival, how do you manage that situation?

It comes naturally. As well as being my rival, it’s him that gives me support and advice, and I acknowledge that. we always train together, we get on really well and don’t think twice about offering support when the other needs it.

You recently made the switch to 26". How’s that going?

The switch from 20" to 26" was a carefully thought out decision between my brother and I, we wanted to try something different. It’s going really well so far. I received the Hyroxx II in December and put in a lot of hours over the winter, so I’m completly used to the bike now.

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From your experience, what are the advantages and disadvatanges of each wheel size?

A lot of people have been asking me that lately! There are pros and cons with each. At the moment, 26" seems to be enjoying the most success, but I 20" will regain a bit of interest in the future.

For me, the advantages of 26" are: it’s easier to gain speed on rough or sloping ground and taps are easier. However, the increased weight over a 20", the slighlty more difficult handling and sidehops are disadvantages. The disadvantages of a 26" are the advantages of a 20" and vice versa.

What do you think of your Hydroxx?

For the last several years, Koxx have been the innovative pioneers of trials and the Hydroxx is the product of the state-of-the-art technology that they have perfected. It’s a very strong frame that still manages to be light. The geometry’s fantastic, I felt right at home on the bike from the start, I’m very happy with it.

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What do you think about biketrials in Portugal?

As I said earlier, its a relatively recent discipline that deserves more popularity. For that reason we need to create a solid structure capable of welcoming, training and keeping riders interested in the sport through trials schools and the like. I say that because I think that it’s a sport that requires a lot of motivation and commitment from the start. If there is no structure in place to support beginners and experienced riders, people can become demotivated and abandon the sport.

As far as competitions are concerned, there have been some changes. Over the last three years there have been some indoor comps, as well as natural comps, which has been good to see. This year the rules have also changed, which I think will attract more riders and more spectators. Another plus point, there’s now a competition at Coimbra, which will help to decentralise the championship.

Joao, you had a trials school, but not any more. Do you ever think of re-opening the Portuguese Trials School?

That school was open for a couple of years, but my brother and I just didn’t have the time to keep it going. However, 2009 will be a year of new projects, who knows whether the school will re-open or not?

What are your goals for 2009?

Competition gets stiffer every year, I hope I can still do big things. I’ll give my all to take the title again.

What would you say to any younger riders out there?

Practice is fundamental to improvement, and will keep you fit and healthy - so keep practising!

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