"Gladiator." "A Presence." These are the two terms used by Jordie Lunn's older brother, Craig, when asked about Jordie's persona. There's really not a more appropriate description for the 33-year old Victoria, British Columbia, athlete known equally as well for his prowess on a mountain bike as his imposing image.
Lunn is a sight to behold. Tattoos cover his neck, one eyelid and the majority of his body. Half of his head is shaved, and the other half is a shock of bleached-blonde hair. He also happens to be built like brick house. At 5 feet 11 inches and 195 pounds, Lunn is pure muscle, but that's where the intimidation ends. As soon as he opens his mouth he's reminiscent of pit bull puppy. All muscle and smiles.
Simply put, Lunn is a seriously happy guy. There is no façade to cover up a dark side. His smile is infectious and his laugh radiates around the room. He has a charisma that is as entertaining as is his unique fashion sense. "He's really positive. He's just enjoys having fun, and he makes me want to live my life that way," says Lunn's girlfriend Caitlin Larsen.
Ask Lunn about his childhood and he'll fill the time telling you stories about the shenanigans he got into with his brothers. He credits their penchant for riding bikes to the balance they acquired by riding Snoopy-branded scooter/skateboards when they were little kids. "They were wicked," he says with a laugh. Jarrett was the first one interested in biking and got a BMX for his 7th birthday. "I wanted one straight away after he got one," says Lunn. "We'd stack firewood at the end of our driveway and see how high we could make the piles and still clear them."
The three boys all eventually got into mountain biking via cross-country racing. Their talents were all unique. Jarrett was the naturally gifted of the three. Craig had the courage to try huge things without much hesitation and Jordie was the one who practiced and worked harder than the others to hone his talents. "Jarrett probably flipped a dirt jump three years before I ever did," he says.
In spite of all three learning to ride together, Jordie was the one who stuck it out and began racing. His parents rented a trailer and took him to BC Cups and Canada Cups. He began winning nationally and joined the World Cup DH circuit, and eventually qualified for Worlds with the Santa Cruz team. Coming in 11th to winner Steve Peat at the 2003 Mont-Saint-Anne race stands as one of his crowing achievements on a bike. He was only 2.5 seconds off the win.
Most guys who have been in the business for a long time witnessed the transition from racing to freeride. Sponsors started putting heavy pressure on their riders to broaden their abilities to learn tricks and compete in slopestyle events, but Lunn wasn't interested in change. "I didn't start learning tricks until I was 21. I was always focused on racing," he says. "We didn't have foam pits or air bags. We had to just try to find soft dirt to practice in."
Eventually, he parted ways with his race team and switched his focus to freeride as racing was too challenging to pursue without being a part of a factory team.
The move was a challenging one for Lunn. "I didn't have it in my head that I was ready for slopestyle," he says. "There were a bunch of years when I lost focus and just wasn't in it at all." He fell into a bit of a rut, got out of shape and hit a low point. In need of a financial boost, he moved to Alberta to work in the oil fields to make some extra money. In an odd twist, it was that move that jump-started his love for fitness.
"There wasn't much to do besides work so I just decided, 'Ok, I'm gonna go to the gym every day and get back in shape." Lunn's daily fitness is a huge part of his life. With a small, but efficient home gym setup he now dedicates time daily to calisthenics and cardio training. You have no chance against him in an arm wrestling contest.
With his improved health and strength, the move to freeride brought out Lunn's serious work ethic, and challenged him physically and emotionally. "I love the mental aspect of freeride," he says. "It gets you out of your comfort zone and I think that's what motivates me." While he's no longer competing in contests, he does attend as many of the Fest Series stops as he can. The lack of structured contest atmosphere and the group of riders involved play perfectly into Lunn's character. It's about enjoying company and pushing oneself—two things that are crucially important to his happiness.
Those who don't know Lunn may fall victim to judging him on his appearance. With hundreds of hours worth of tattoos inked on his body coupled with his size, it's easy to find him really intimidating, or as his brother says, "a presence." But his image is merely that: an image.
Perhaps it's worth taking a cue from the kids he coaches at Summer Gravity Camps. "Those kids love him. You may not outwardly see that coming when you look at him, but he's just a really easy guy to get along with," says Craig. His affability has undoubtedly helped with his longevity in the sport, but make no mistake, he has no plans to quit any time soon. "I definitely have goals over the next few years riding-wise," he says. "My goals life-wise? Just be happy." We could all take a page out of Lunn's book. "People that are too up tight just need to sit back, and relax. Life is too short."