Tom Pro is a man responsible for the success of Whistler Mountain Bike Park in British Columbia. He managed the park from 2001 to 2007. His ability to visualize trails and trail features that are both progressive and safe have earned him international respect. His son Alex was raised in the mountains and quickly became a mountain biking and skiing star. He successfully took part in the most difficult competitions like the Red Bull Rampage and others. We spoke with Tom about their relationship.
Can you remember the first time you took Alex on the trail? Was he a prodigy child since the beginning or did he have to learn like the others?
Alex was always pretty good, but I would not call him exceptional. He was into riding a bit more than some of his friends at a young age.
Did you always ride together or was Alex a member of some mountain bike gang in Whistler?
We rode together a bit, but he mostly rode with his “gang”.
Can you tell me if Whistler is a great place for learning to ride your bike? And why was it better for Alex in Whistler than on other places in the North America?
Whistler is a great place to learn how to ride because of the quality and variety of trails, but you will only be as good as your desire. Many good riders come from regions where there are no bike parks at all, just good environment and attitude.
A short documentary about Alex and Tom.
Did you have to push him to the competitions or was he motivated by himself? Can you remember the first time when he started in a race? And the first success?
I didn’t push Alex. He was part of a local race team and he was really fast, and became the Canadian Junior Champion in 2007 or 2008.
We were talking about racing. But a big part of mountain biking is riding on trails. Have you experienced a bike trip to the backcountry together? How was it?
When Alex was 7 we did a trip to Czech Republic together and he was whining about having to ride up. I explained to him that whining gets you nowhere and since then he is one of the hardest working guys I know. He never complains.
Who is better rider, you or him?
I am! Actually, not even close. I can’t keep up and don’t even want to ride where he rides. Not good for my health.
Do you remember if it was scary for you to see your son on the start of really difficult races like Red Bull Rampage? Did you encourage him to take part or dissuade from it?
I always encouraged Alex. Yes, it was not easy to watch him ride the Rampage at first, but after a few laps I realized that he had the skills and he would be OK.
Fathers don’t just give advice to their sons. It works also in reverse. Is there something you’ve learned from Alex?
Alex has a very impulsive personality and one might think that not a lot of thought goes into his actions, but he does calculate his every move. His decisions depend on the trust of his abilities. I see that in him and in turn I try to trust my abilities in my work when designing trails. In riding my abilities are limited, so at my age I try not to push too much beyond the limit.
What is your favourite place for riding and what is Alex’s?
Mine and Alex’s favourite place to ride is Whistler. His choice of trails is much different from mine though.
Photos: 6x COMMENCAL / Sam Decout; 1x Redbull.com