Wise Words is our new interview series talking to some of mountain biking’s most switched on people.
We’ll ask our short list of questions to a heap of influential, inspiring and outspoken people that we feel are driving the direction of mountain biking today. Some will make you think, some will make you laugh, some will be plain dumb, some will inspire you to better yourself and your riding. We hope!
This week’s Wise Words is the mastermind behind British steel phenomenon, Cotic Bikes, Mr. Cy Turner.
Cy Turner is the man who’s created a brand that bleeds Sheffield and sweats British in it’s own unique way. Cotic have shown their longevity through keeping a lineage, being true to their values and getting involved in a very active local scene. It’s no mean feat keeping a legion of fans for over a decade, and it’s mostly thanks to Cy’s work.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
Not really sure. Geeky? Least likely to do a jump? Measured?
What thing or things have you bought in the last year that had the biggest effect on your life as a mountain biker / cyclist / person that works in the bike industry?
Prototypes made in the UK. It’s massively helped me develop the new Longshot geometry quickly which helped me as a person in the industry. The new bikes are a big step from the previous version, so that’s helped my life as a mountain biker.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I’m not sure I have anything that unusual. I guess I’m always thinking about how the bike is performing. I can’t switch that bit of my brain off, so although I don’t constantly fiddle with my bike I’m constantly considering how it’s working.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Advice every rider should hear? You need a coaching session. I still have rider coaching from A Line Coaching, and everyone I know who has done it has benefited. Related to this, if you’re booking a coaching session, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been riding or how good you think you are, book onto the Basics/Fundamentals/Whatever-the-entry-level-course-is-called. I guarantee you’ll learn something and you won’t be doing something as well as you could be. Get the building blocks right and you’ll progress massively.
What should they ignore? You need “insert-bicycle-product-here” to enjoy riding your bike. Said product might make riding easier, more fun, faster, whatever, but you don’t need it to simply enjoy mountain biking and being in the countryside. What you need for that is a functional mountain bike, a helmet, vaguely appropriate clothes and a willingness to get sweaty.
I also think the advice all mountain bikers need to hear and listen to is this:
Think a lot more about the damage you’re doing to a trail depending on it’s condition. There are a lot of trails near me that are really sensitive to being very wet as they are peat based, they get absolutely fucked by people riding them through the winter ‘BECAUSE BIKE RIDE’.
So many riders ride places they don’t know or understand by following GPS maps or Strava without a thought for what a mess they are making. I know if you have travelled a long way and have a certain ride planned it’s hard to change things or shorten it when you have invested a lot in finding and getting excited about route. I get that. But think about what you’re riding on, and how you’re riding it.
And I’m not just talking about cheeky trails (footpaths) either, I’m talking about perfectly legal places we are allowed to ride which get absolutely buggered by even low volumes of traffic at inappropriate times. I know it’s hard during a winter as long as we’ve just had to stay off everything, but around here we have a reasonable number of rocky trails which we try and stay on.
We have a saying within Ride Sheffield: Save It For Summer. The trails are running mint at the moment, which is awesome, but a lot are also showing the scars of stupid, thoughtless people riding without care in places they really shouldn’t when it’s sopping wet. Apart from anything, what on earth are you getting out of slogging across wet, boggy trails? It’s crap to ride them in those conditions anyway.
In a lot of places, mountain biking has been around long enough that we’re not seen as the enemy anymore and we are part of the countryside user groups. The argument for whether we’re allowed, or should be allowed, on bridleways and byways has been won. Now we need to change our mindset to whether we should be riding those trails to which we have access in the prevailing conditions.
If you could go back and re-ride one day from your life so far, where/what/when/who would it be? Would you change anything?
To be honest, last weekend at the Boltby Bash was pretty hard to beat. Golden weather, amazing trails, great riding buddies. I’d change the guy nailing himself on Stage 2 and the confusion that ensued with what stages to run, but apart from that it was pretty much the perfect riding weekend.
What have you wasted the most time on in your life as a rider or bike industry career that you wished you’d given up years ago?
Cynicism/grumpy old biker syndrome.
When the industry started changing a lot of the standards and wheel sizes a few years ago I would get just as “why are we bothering with this” as I’m sure a lot of riders get. The problem with that when you own a bike company is:
a) you’re potentially limiting how you can improve your products
b) you turn up at Eurobike 2013 and go ‘oh, so 27.5” wheels kills 26” then?’ without having a 27.5” bike in the plan at all and it nearly sinks your business. These days if something new comes along, I’m open to it. Get a sample, ride it, see for myself. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the ‘oh it’s just marketing bullshit’, but you know I’ve been doing this for 15 years now and I haven’t met a single person like that in the industry yet. Everyone’s just trying to make better bikes. And you know what, my bikes are better because of it.
In 2013 I was riding a 26” wheel Rocket and 3x drivetrain ‘because it worked’. Now I ride a 29” wheel RocketMAX with Boost everything, an amazingly reliable 1x drivetrain, remote dropper post, proper tubeless tyres and amazing light, wide rim wheels.
You know what? It’s all way better than that bike in 2013. Way better. Just because it’s new doesn’t make it bad or necessarily better, and if it is better, you don’t have to buy it now, but it’s cool knowing your next bike/fork/wheel/tyre will be better than the one you have now, right? Plus this approach to life makes for much less stress. Don’t worry, be happy.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
Don’t push it. It comes in waves, and you’ll ride again. It’s supposed to be fun, remember? This winter was horrendous, and in the end I just stopped biking unless I absolutely felt like it. No one died, I didn’t lose all my fitness ever, and now the weather is nice I’m getting out loads and loving it again.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
A really well-railed corner. There was one at Boltby at the weekend that I just hooked up and I remember thinking ‘this must be what it feels like to be a good rider’.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
All the e-bike hate. Seriously, do you not have enough stress in your life that you have to manufacture some on the internet? Just like anything, there are upsides and downsides, but I see them as a potential game changer. Not for MTB, they’re just toys to play in the dirt, but as potential car replacement for mass commuting. Game changer.
Matt Wragg hit the nail on the head with his editorial over on the large pink website the other week (0pens in new tab).
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
Open access for MTB. Access laws at the moment are at best not fit for purpose and at worst, deeply stupid.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Keith Bontrager, John Horscroft (Ride Sheffield).