With a love of speed and excitement, the young downhill racer has faced several challenges due to injuries. We had a chat with Simen Smestad where we sum up 2019 and look forward to a great season in 2020. Solberg & Hansen is a proud partner, and ensures that you never run out of coffee before an important competition or while recovering.
When did you start downhill cycling?
I tried downhill cycling for the first time when I was around 12-13. At that time I was riding motor trials, but later chose downhill because I liked more speed and excitement.
What is your favorite trail? Which competitions do you like best?
My favorite trail is the World Cup trail in Val Di Sole, Italy. It's steeper and more difficult than any other course I've ever ridden, and all courses in Norway are child's play in comparison. There are also insane amounts of people there during World Cup races, which is really cool when you're racing.
I like the World Cup races best. These are the hardest courses and the best riders. The World Cup is the highest level there is in downhill cycling and is very special to ride because you get to sit in the elevator with some of your idols. I haven't been able to ride many World Cup races as a senior yet, due to an injury. But when I was a junior I had some good races in the cup.
What is the highlight from the 2019 season?
My 2019 season was quite amputated due to a shoulder and knee injury, but the highlight has to be the Norwegian Championships in Hafjell. I got 3rd place, which was surprising considering my body wasn't working properly. It's also great fun to race on home soil.
Tell us a bit about last year's challenges with injuries and surgeries?
"In April I was in Slovenia to ride the first World Cup of the year. On the last training ride, I had a fall where I landed right on my shoulder and I noticed right away that something was wrong. There was no World Cup that weekend, so I went home to find out about the injury. When I got home from my trip, I started to have a lot of pain in my knee as well. It took a long time to find out what the two injuries were. No physiotherapists or doctors could figure it out, so I was just told to rest and see if it got better. The summer passed and it didn't get better. I finally had knee surgery in November and shoulder surgery in early January. Both operations were successful, but it will take some time before I'm back on the bike. I was told that my knee could have been career-threatening, but now I know it will be fine, so I'm happy. I'm patient, but I'm really looking forward to being back on the bike, hopefully by the summer.
How have you managed to pass the time while you've been bedridden?
I wonder about that too... But in the beginning I was able to work, so I worked at G-sport in the evenings. I used the days to train what I could. But when you have a sore shoulder and a sore knee, there's not much you can do that feels like exercise. There have been a few coffee cups over the past year, so to speak! When I was bedridden after surgery, it was Netflix and Playstation that saved me, but I get very restless if I don't exercise!
"There have been a few coffee cups in the past year, so to speak!"Simen Smestad
What are your hopes and goals for the 2020 season?
I don't have many performance goals considering I'm coming back from injury, but I have both hopes and goals to ride races for the sake of training. The biggest goal is to get back on the bike and make up for valuable lost time. I'd rather have an extended season this year, so I'll take it as it comes. I'm just looking forward to being able to ride again.
How did your interest in coffee come about? What came first out of cycling and coffee?
Cycling came first from coffee and cycling! When I was younger, I thought it was silly that adults could be so addicted to a black and hot drink, so I had no plans to be like that! I've always thought coffee beans smell incredibly good, but when I tasted coffee for the first time I didn't realize that you could think it was good. Years passed and I remember we were traveling with the national team in Austria. We were tired one morning because we got up very early, so we mixed coffee, milk and chocolate powder to see if we woke up more. It worked! And it tasted pretty good. Eventually I drank the coffee with just milk and finally without anything in it. Now I've become exactly what I wasn't supposed to be; addicted to a black and hot drink. Thanks to Solberg & Hansen, I have attended a coffee course and have become much more aware of how coffee can taste. Coffee is now part of everyday life and is one of the small highlights of the day. Cycling and coffee are like hand in glove, they go well together. Most cyclists love coffee!
"Thanks to Solberg & Hansen, I've been on a coffee course and have become much more aware of how coffee can taste. Coffee is now part of everyday life and is one of the little highlights of the day!"Simen Smestad
What coffee have you had today? What is your favorite coffee?
I have a cup of winter coffee from Colombia in front of me as I write this. My favorite coffee has to be Yellow Honey El Tacho or Red Roney San Antonio from Costa Rica. When I tasted the two types, I didn't really know which type of coffee I liked best, and I don't really know today either, but I remember thinking they were both so insanely good. They both had a great aftertaste that I loved. Red Honey, which is dried with a lot of pulp, has a lot of good flavors and is some of the best coffee I have tasted. I wish it was part of the range all year round!
How do you prefer to brew your coffee?
I prefer to brew with the Aeoropress and my Wilfa grinder, it's how I can explore different brewing methods and taste the difference in the coffee I brew myself. I still feel like a beginner, even after two years with the Aeropress, because there are so many ways to do it. It also feels more special after you've spent some time brewing yourself a cup. At home, we also have a coffee machine that came with the kitchen, which is also often used if I don't have time to brew myself. There have been many bags of Solberg & Hansen coffee at home!
Do you usually bring your own coffee beans and brewing equipment on trips?
Yes!!! I always bring several bags of beans and my brewing equipment on a trip when I drive a car, it's a bit more difficult if I have to fly. I usually drive my car when traveling in Europe, often staying at a campsite to save on costs. There's nothing like sitting in the tent outside the car with a freshly brewed cup of Solberg & Hansen coffee somewhere in Europe!
Follow Simen Smestad's journey on Instagram!
Club: SK Rye