Allan Cooke on big whips, announcing the Specialized Dual Slalom in Innsbruck, the Levo Turbo, and the new Sea to Sky community hub

For Crankworx fans, Allan Cooke may bring to mind visions of iconic whips over Crabapple Hits in Whistler. The notoriety is well earned: AC is the only male competitor to ever win the event twice in back-to-back years. But beyond his big whips, Allan’s roots in the bike world run deep, from a long stint in BMX, to Crankworx DH races, to his current off-the-bike gig with Specialized. We caught up with him to chat bikes, whips, and where it’s all taking him in 2021. Photo credit: Paris Gore

Crankworx: Last time we chatted to you was in 2018 at the Whip-Off World Champs – your second in a row. That’s a long time since then! What have you been up to since then?

Allan Cooke: Oh man it has been busy for sure since 2018, it’s been all bikes pretty much so no complaining here. Tons of Marketing, Athlete Management, Product Development and PR within the bike industry, a lot of time riding trying to go faster, further and have more fun too.

CWX: You’ve since made the move to Specialized – what prompted the move? What does your day-to-day look like now?

AC: Yeah actually made the move “back” to Specialized, I rode for them back in my BMX days from 97’-09’ so it felt a bit like coming home. Making a change like that always has a ton of pieces to it, none more important than the other so I wont go into too much detail. What I will say is it wasn’t an easy change personally but now that I’m here at Specialized it’s obvious I am in the right place now. Day-to-day is always busy, I would say it usually consists of about 6-10 hours of computer work and meetings each day. I do manage to ride 2-4 hours in there a few days a week, sometimes it is getting up with the sun and getting the first-light laps, and other days its chasing the light down pedaling back to my truck in the dark. Maybe not every day but every week there is plenty of time for riding, enough to keep a smile on my face at least.

CWX: How do you balance a desk job with riding and racing?

AC: As mentioned, it’s a lot of early morning and later in the day sessions, that usually translates into a lot of spur of the moment solo rides. Its tough to make plans with work and family, when I see a window for riding I just run out the door and take it. COVID has been very good for the balancing act that is work and play, for sure more laps this year than ever before.

CWX: How’s it been adjusting to a new job, and the new life challenges that 2020 brought us? How’ve you kept yourself afloat?

AC: Luckily I was at Specialized for six months before the world went on lockdown so I had the lay of the land and knew who did what, it also helps that everyone here at the brand are just bike riders too so the adjustment was like seeing an old friend, it didn’t take long. Travel restrictions and not being able to get people together has made things quite different in the Marketing/PR world for sure but one I have embraced. It has been fun to figure out new ways to do things, break some molds and freshen stuff up.  Although if I never have to cancel or postpone an event ever again I would be cool with that. I have stayed afloat the same this year as any other, just made sure to get time on the bike.  It’s just taken more this year and I ain’t mad at that.

CWX: Heading deeper into 2021 there are some positive changes coming down the line. We’re stoked to hear you’ll be announcing alongside Cam and the crew in the Specialized Dual Slalom Innsbruck. Will you be on site in Innsbruck or announcing remotely from your home? Are you excited to watch some racing and shoot the sh*t with the rest of the crew?!

AC: I will be doing everything I can to be there on the ground in Innsbruck, you never can be sure these days but that is the plan. I am stoked to get into the booth with Cam, our careers had similar timing with mine in BMX and his in MTB. Cam is always someone I have looked up to as an athlete, person and commentator so yeah I am stoked to get to know him a bit more and have the best seat in the house for the Slalom events. Getting back to where my bike family is will be awesome, there are so many faces I am looking forward to seeing once back across boarders.

CWX: If you end up on site…how keen are you to hit the whip jump in Innsbruck?! It’s a stunner…

AC: Man you have no idea, I was there a couple years back just to ride that jump. I was between EWS events managing a Team and had a small window, I was literally in the country for 35hrs and It was just to ride that jump. It ended up raining on the day the event was scheduled, I had to leave for another event and the contest went down a couple days later, it was torcher, ha.

CWX: Would you race anything else at Crankworx Innsbruck?

AC: I usually race the DH races when I come to Crankworx, the Open style events are so rad because fans like me get to ride with and see how they would match up to the racers we idolize.  If I do make it to Innsbruck I will for sure be lining up for the DH Race.”

CWX: What about the rest of 2021 for you? Do you think we’ll see you at Crankworx Rotorua in November?

AC: These days what is for sure but if I am allowed to be there I will be, hopefully things will be more open and traveling restrictions lightened up to the point I can be there. I have been to Rotorua Crankworx a few other times and its always one of the best rips of the year, I think it will also be cool to experience the country in a different season.  Also Rotorua have one of the best DH tracks ever and that Whip Off under the lights is something special.

CWX: In other Specialized news, the new Turbo Levo just dropped last week. What’s got you stoked about this bike?

AC: Oh man, that new bike is quite the piece of machinery. I don’t really know how they did it but they removed all the reasons not to ride an eMTB while improving on all the reasons why to ride one, it is for sure a different experience than riding a traditional trail bike but one that is pure fun.My favorite thing about the new Levo is how it eats up any excuse not to ride: its too cold, too hot, I’m too tired, its my rest day, not enough time today, you’re too fast for me, it cancels all those out and gets the wind in your face and out in the forest no matter what.

CWX: Word on the street (in the Sea to Sky) is that Specialized is opening a new demo center in Squamish… Can you tell us a bit about this?

AC: Yeah I believe construction is underway for an early Summer Grand Opening. It will be an Experience Center where riders can come test out our bikes, no matter the type of riding they are looking to do or their skill level. There will be bikes representing all the categories that Specialized play in, and it’ll be a spot where someone can come find out what kind of rider they are or to test out their next purchase to be sure it is the bike they want. Ultimately the “Experience Center” will be a Hub for the local riding community as much as it is for the tourists passing through. We’ll host Dig Days, Movie Premiers, Group Rides for all skill levels and much much more.  I think many would agree that the Sea to Sky is the beating heart of MTB Trail Culture – its hard not to find a reason to have the brand in the area. I’m looking forward to having that location as a recourse for us to keep our fingers on the pulse of the sport…and tons more trips to Squamish when possible. Ha.

Check out the launch for the new Specialized Turbo Levo, and stay tuned for details on the Specialized Dual Slalom Innsbruck coming up from Crankworx’s first stop in Austria, June 16-20, 2021.