You’ve heard his voice on the UCI MTB World Cup feeds over on Red Bull TV, but you’d never have expected to see Rob Warner when tuning into the webcast during Åre Bike Festival. Yet, that’s exactly what happened this year as the legendary MTB commentator had been invited to co-host the daily webcast at one of Scandinavia's biggest bike festivals.
With his witty one-liners, great stories and snappy commentary, it’s fair to say that Rob stole the show and made the webcast very entertaining. In between the shows, he also got a chance to experience some of Åre’s best trails, ride under the midnight sun and enjoy the local nightlife.
We caught up with Rob to find out what he thought of his week in Sweden.
- Catch Rob Warner commentating over on Red Bull TV at the last Downhill and XC World Cup round in Snowshoe the 15-19th of September.
Hi Rob! How’s Sweden treating you so far?
It’s been very nice actually. I’ve come here twice before in 1995 for the World Cup and 1999 for the World Championship. I can’t say I recognised much of Åre when I got here, it’s changed a fair bit, but it’s been an amazing experience to be here this week. I went up to the top of the mountain at midnight yesterday, which was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It not getting dark was insane. Insane! I could have stayed up that mountain watching the sun until now.
What's been your highlight of Åre this week?
Honestly, the riding has been really good and watching the events, like the Whip It Good, has been great. But I’ve got to say, to get up to the top of the mountain at midnight - feeling like I was on top of the earth, watching the sun go down - that was just something I will never forget. It was awesome. We watched as the sun went down behind the mountain and then, in front of us, the mountain just put out this massive pyramid shadow that reached all the way to the horizon. And the light, I mean, it was unreal.
Just wow, you have to get up there if you ever have the chance.
What tracks have you tried and have you got any favourites?
I have ridden a few, like the Shimano track with all the jumps. It was really good fun, but I nearly died twice over jumping a few, haha. But then going back to last night again, when I was up the mountain at midnight together with Greg Minnaar*, we rode this sick trail from the top on the way down. I think it was called Easy rider, a blue trail - I love blue trails! It starts off flowy and then gets a little bit more tech towards the end. Bombing down at like 1 am in the morning, it was one of the weirdest and best experiences ever.
I enjoy bike parks and have a lot at home in the UK, but nothing comes close to this experience. We rode down the mountain for like an hour or something. It was awesome.
*Downhill World Cup rider Greg Minnaar also visited the festival and Åre. Read all about what he thought of it here.
What do you think about the festival?
It’s awesome. What’s better than a bike festival? There is a lot going on every day, tons of different events. Everyone is just hanging out and having a good time. I’ve had an amazing time. It’s nice to see so many families here as well with their kids. I’d love to come here with my kids one day.
To be honest, I’d been away for 6 weeks before this, and before coming here I kind of just wanted to go home, but I’m very, very, very glad I came and would always come back if invited. It’s a really nice festival and Åre is stunning.
You and Greg Minnaar rode parts of the 1999 World Championship track. How was that?
Haha, well you know - interesting! Greg and I went up to have a look at what’s left of the Worlds’ track the other day. I couldn’t really remember much of it. The start is so steep, I almost got off a walked haha. But we rode down it in the end and it’s obviously blown out and changed a lot with big rocks everywhere, but it was really interesting to see how steep and gnarly it was. I can’t believe we raced down it over 20 years ago. We also got to watch some footage from the race and both me and Greg were in it. So it’s been a real trip down memory lane!
What’s the weirdest thing about Sweden?
It doesn’t get dark. That is by far the weirdest thing! You know, you guys are used to it, but for me it’s so strange. I guess you have the long dark winters when it’s dark all the time, and then this mad light nights in summer. I mean, I know I’ve said it before, but at top of the mountain yesterday at midnight, the light was just insane, this orange colour. The beauty of it. I will never forget it.