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!
Chris Porter is taking on this week’s Wise Words. You can’t have spent any time around bikes and not heard of this man.
Outspoken and often controversial, Chris was the man behind Mojo and now Mojo Rising. For decades he’s the man who oversaw Fox Suspension’s distribution in the UK and ran a World Cup race team. Plenty of very fast people have ridden very fast under Chris’ stewardship and on bikes that had all the Chris Porter trademarks on them.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
Hopefully they would describe me as generous, gregarious and great fun to ride bikes with. They’d say he’s not scared to hike with a bike and happy to try to keep up with the fast kids and ride gnarly, steep trails. But…
They might call me an opinionated, slightly overweight 52 year old who whines bit on the climbs if the pace is too hot and is happy to settle to the fun trails fast rather than ride the fresh cut, steep ‘mud ruts’. The truth is probably somewhere between that, but I’m happy that the youngsters still want to ride with me!
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?
A ‘licence to occupy’ for the new place after the F*x/Silverfish stitch up (been told not use the ‘F’ word). Much happier to be working with a few great people in a ‘cooperative’ rather than a ‘corporate’ manner. Free to do what we want and say what we want.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I’m always stopping to change things mid-ride! I can’t finish a ride without changing some aspect of the bike set-up. I normally change suspension constantly, change bar height, roll angle, lever height, tyre pressure, etc… I’ve even been known to take chains off to do back to backs and even done some skin suit testing (a long way from civilisation for everyone else’s sake).
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
That the bike set-up can make you behave correctly on the bike, it might not be you… Just because some amazingly fast pro-rider can win a World Cup on it doesn’t mean it handles well. Beginners and ‘non-pros’ need a better bike than they do ‘cos they could go really fast on a shopper.
Don’t just blame yourself for (for instance) not being comfortable riding with your elbows up. Try rolling bars forward so the bar roll actually encourages it (you’ll need a short stem and a pretty flat bar!).
The bit of advice to ignore is the marketing that says we need 16 different bikes of different wheel sizes, different travels and different handling characteristics to ride in the woods with our mates…
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?
I wouldn’t! People who live in the future are anxious people who live in the past are usually sad. I’ve had some great rides with amazing riders but I wouldn’t want to change any of that.
In the spirit of the interview though… I would have invited Fabien Barel out for a motorcycle ride the day after we had finished testing in Sospel in early 2011. That way he wouldn’t have gone out riding his DH bike and broken his femur in a massive, new rain rut that turned up on a blind landing overnight…
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?
Again, regrets are for people who blame other people for their woes, you can’t regret decisions taken with all the info at hand… That said, ‘trying to convince a big corporate to have a ‘performance’ focus rather than a profit focus’ was a bit of a frustration at points.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
I’m not usually lacking the motivation or inspiration. It’s funds I’m usually lacking to bring the ideas to fruition.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
Corners… I love going from full lean angle one way to full lean angle the other way. I love steep, rutted corners, I love fast open turns, I love flat turns, slightly cambered turns and I tolerate berms too. Just love changing direction on a bicycle, love it.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
Ebikes… Just another distraction from the job of getting the rear derailleur off the rear wheel. Ebikes generally have at least two separate shafts inside the motor unit, enough to have gears inside! But they still have f**king derailleurs hanging off the rear wheel.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
Find a way of making riders immune to bullshit marketing claims. An Ebike ad claiming ‘Ride further, faster, longer’ should read, ‘ride for 2 hours at 250W assistance at a maximum speed of 17mph and good luck with the hike a bike sections’…
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Steve Jones at EMBN (he has a perfectly good motorbike in his garage!)