STEPHEN FENNER HAS A GLINT IN HIS EYE… A GLINT OF MISCHIEF. AND HE’S ALL 5 FEET 8 INCHES OF RIDING MAYHEM! HAVING SAID THAT HE HAS A SUPER MELLOW SIDE AND I’VE BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO SEE THIS WHEN I’VE BEEN AROUND HIM, BUT I’VE SEEN PHOTOS OF NIGHTS OUT IN WHERE HE HAS LED THE UNWARY (OR JUST THE STUPID!) ASTRAY. THIS IS STEPHEN FENNER, AKA FENDOG IN A QUICK FIRE SESSION. LETS GET IN TO IT.
Feature photos curtsy of JP-PhotographyUK
I first met Fenner when I was on the look out for new riders for my team back in the day, since then I have followed his progression from local trail hero, to future star on the rise. Now during this period of isolation I thought it would be a good time to have a chat to Fenner to find out more about him and his goals for the year ahead and shed some light on this rising talent:
Let’s start with who is Stephen ‘FenDog’ Fenner?
Who am i? haha sometimes I wonder that as well. So my name Stephen Fenner or as most people call me ‘Fendog‘, don’t know how that nickname came about but it stuck. I’m a lad from Brighton, love to ride and have a good time! Life’s too short to be weighed down by expectations, enjoy life!
So, easy start, how did you get into riding?
Riding has been a part of my life since I can remember really, from a kid messing about on our estate with my all red Raleigh then BMX’n as a youth, street riding brakeless, the more I think about it, what I was doing brakeless was stupid haha. When I got back from travelling at 23, I used my mate’s hardtail around Friston Forest and fell in love with riding MTB.
Where and when did you get into racing?
Racing, basically I got to a point where I wanted to test my skills and see if I needed to improve on anything, so racing was a great place for that. Little did I know how much fun it would be, picking lines, getting those sick shots from great photographers (‘JP-PhotographyUK check him out’ 😉) and the atmosphere is awesome! 100% give it a go, even if you don’t think you’re good enough you’ll surprise yourself.
What’s been your best result so far?
Best result from racing hmm.. that’s tricky, I got the series win at Southern Enduro on my first years racing, which was pretty dope, but my best result would be podium spot at the old ‘Hooper Hooner’. 2 years solid I was trying to get that spot, then the 3rd year with the DirtRiders Crew, I finally got it! I mean I wouldn’t say the beer before my second run helped me haha because that wouldn’t be the right thing to say hahaha but it might have been the key.
Who are you riding for / supported by this year?
So, this year has started pretty nuts for me. I finally got a bike sponsor! yew! Knolly Bikes, based in BC, if you’ve not heard of them before definitely check them out! I’m now part of the Knolly’s UK Team, keep an eye out for my bike build and bike check videos on my Insta and Youtube. I’m also stoked to be part of the Broken Riders Clothing family for 2020. I’ll also still have the support from Rhythm and Bikes Repair Shop down here in Brighton. If it wasn’t for their skills I wouldn’t have a running bike haha. I’ll still also be riding for Rip’n’Roll Goggles and SouthCoast Suspension and can’t forget the guys down at Boot Bananas! Those dudes keep my shoe’s smelling fresh and dry. If you want to Sponsor me hit me up haha cheeky plug!
Lots of interest then, that’s great. But it’s not just you out there is it. Tell me about the group you created, who are they where did it come from?
Ah man the DirtRiders Crew! What a sick bunch of shredders! It’s come far from when it was created like 4-5 years ago, started out as a few of my mates hitting up local spots and bike parks having a blast on bikes, then more and more people wanted to join which was insane. Started taking photos, making edits and getting more interest. We all enjoy racing so put a DirtRders Race Team together, which got attention from sponsors; you legends! If you follow us, you’ll know we go on annual tours to locations and make sick edits for it and do group rides. The actual 15 riders in the crew stretch from Eastbourne all the way to South Wales! Pretty insane if you think about it, we cover the whole of the South.
Let’s touch base on your annual weekend event you run, tell us about that.
Yes! DirtJam! Well this turned out way better than any of us expected. So pretty much if we’re not out riding downhill we’re at The Bull Track, sick place! Owned and run by Alvar Coppard. If you’ve not been there yet, check it out, you’ll love it. One day, we’re sitting there around the BBQ watching people hitting the jumps and thought this place wound be an awesome for a bike jam and nowhere does one with camping onsite or anything like a jam in the South East. So, after talks with Alvar we started DirtJam! A 2-day event with comps, prizes, music, food, big bonfire in the evening, even had a random firework show last year haha. Make sure to come this year, if it’s on given the current situation (COVID-19), the DirtRiders Crew would love to ride with you.
So, you’ve mentioned a few tracks so far but where’s your favourite place to ride?
Favourite place to ride? Damn that’s a hard question I’ve ridden some insane places! I’d 100% say all of the Surrey Hill spots for round here. As for UK Bike parks, I’d have to say Black Mountain Cycle Centre; f@*king love that place. Once this Corona is over, I’m gonna be there for the weekend! But my favourite track of all time has to be Pleney Black in Morzine, my cheeks hurt from smiling too much on that track!
Ok so talking favourites, what’s been your favourite race venue/event so far?
Gonna answer this in 2 parts as I’ve got 2 different answers. So, my favourite venue for racing has to be Rheola. That track for racing is something else and I had the pleasure of racing it in the pissing rain haha! But as for events itself I’d have to say the B1KE races/series, the atmosphere is awesome. It’s not super serious just more fun and is great if you want to try out racing for the first time. The guys at B1KE and the guys that run each venue always put on a really good event.
You’re renowned within your circle for getting pretty wild on a bike, what’s been your sketchiest moment so far?
Sketchiest moment haha jeeze that’s a tough one! I can’t pick one but the top 3 have to be falling off a cliff and impaling myself on my bike, nearly breaking my back at the BullTrack, which I nearly won Fail Of The Year on GMBN due to my wookey noise; lost to a girl falling in a puddle haha and then my 50/50 landing on the double after the boner log drop on the pro line at Windhill Bike Park which resulted in a snapped frame.
Brilliant, now who or what inspires and motivates you?
Definitely watching edits like Slice of Pie’s, Tea & Biscuits help keeps me inspires me to ride like a loon but seeing other peoples’ stoke levels and vibing of other riders is what keeps me motivated to ride. Can’t beat a big ride with a crew of you.
What does a day in the life look like for you?
Honestly pretty boring at the moment with the current situation (COVID-19) but I do try to keep occupied and mentally busy. Can’t start the day without a decent coffee and Youtube! Then morning workout, followed by editing, then get out on the bike for an xc or pump track ride, end the day with beers or wine with the girlfriend then repeat everyday till this is over haha.
What’s your biggest weakness?
Oh, that’s easy. Public speaking, man I hate talking to crowds of people. Don’t know what it is but I just freak out. Drunk on the other hand….haha….
What does the future hold for FenDog?
Loads more riding, racing, filming! Going to be doing more enduro’s this year, well hoping to haha. I’ve recently passed my driving test, I know pretty late being 32 haha, so will be doing a lot more travelling to locations to meet up with other riders. Planning on buying a house soon with my girlfriend, Katherine, so pretty stoked on that.
Any last words?
Quoted from one of my favourite MTB films and powered by Chainsaw……Ride Your F#%king Bike. As simple as that, no matter how good or bad you are, just get out and enjoy it, don’t go out to be the best at everything or impress others but do it for yourself. The next thing you know you’ve found the real reason of MTB…….finding that freedom and peace you get from just enjoying being on your bike.
Hope to see you guys on the trails soon… YEW!
(photos above are from Stephen Fenner’s facebook page with his permission)
A big thank you too Stephen Fenner and make sure you go check out his Instagram page and the DirtRiders Team Facebook Page.