Meet Phil Saxena

You might have heard of Phil Saxena or you might not. What's almost definite is that you've watched

Course builder to the stars
You might have heard of Phil Saxena or you might not. What's almost definite is that you've watched people racing on one of his tracks; Phil you see is the UCI's 4X course builder and when he's not tied up jet-setting around the world, he's busy digging and campaigning for grass-roots UK racing. We caught up with him recently to find out how he came to be a full-time trail builder and what he's been up to this autumn at Cwmcarm...

Phil Saxena


Track builder and boss of Full Contact Racing

What came first building trails, or riding bikes?
Definitely riding. The building side came about out of frustration at the lack of good spots to ride.

Do you like digging as much as riding?
I guess I do. You get a great satisfaction from building stuff which people love to ride.

How long have you been building trails/tracks?
I've been digging trails for about 12 years.

What's your background BMX/MTB - did you go to Uni etc?
MTB first, then a bit of BMX over the last few years. I went to Uni at Leeds and I'm still living there now.

What drew you towards 4X?
Racing my mates around a disused quarry in Leeds. I love DH but it's so much more fun with other people to lean on in the corners.

Is 4x gonna be here in 10 years time or will it go the same way as dual slalom/duel?
If I've got anything to do with it!

Will there be a day when - on a world stage - 4X stops being a sideshow to downhill racing?
Yes. Multi rider racing is the future. DH is awesome but 4X is much more spectator friendly. You can pack a great show into an hour slot and people can see all the action rather than a short section.

Where do you see the future of trail building going?
I'll be trying more flowy stuff with big transfers and hips rather than balls out big jumps. Building trails is a personal thing and everyone has there own style.

What do you think of the whole North Shore thing?
It's cool, but not what I'm into. If you're gonna build it, build it out of dirt.

What's going on at Cwmcarn right now? Is the DH track finished?
We've been building a new DH track for the last 2 months but it isn't finished yet. Opening next March. It's a track with loads of possible routes down to cater for everyone's riding tastes. Roots, rocks, singletrack, small jumps, big jumps, massive jumps etc. There's even a tunnel under a road and two bridge jumps.

What pisses you off about the MTB/trail building scene?
That there aren't nearly enough DH or 4X facilities in the UK.

You're working with the UCI now, how did that come about?
They liked the stuff we built at Fort William and so they offered me the chance to do the Worlds at Lugano. They liked that too so they offered me the whole lot.

Is it a stressful job?
It can get pretty tense trying to get organisers to shell out more cash to build bigger and better tracks. But in general it's a dream job.

Any advice to kids who think a career digging trails sounds cool?
Go for it. It'll take a while to build it into a career but it's a cool job with massive job satisfaction. Beats the hell out of working in an office anyway!

What's on your Christmas list this year?
A Troy Lee Designs custom painted Whacker plate, although I'd settle for TLD spade or wheel barrow.

Visit Phil's website at

This article was published by BikeRadar, the world's leading source of bike reviews, gear reviews, riding advice and route information
  • Discipline: Road, Mountain, Urban, Womens
  • Location: UK, USA, Australia
Back to top