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!
Wise Words this week comes to you from a man who has probably tested every piece of riding kit ever, Mr. Guy Kesteven.
If you’ve read a UK cycling magazine in the last two decades and passed an eye over some test kit, then there’s a high chance that Guy was the one testing it. Guy now runs his own Youtube channel testing the current raft of kit on the market.
Photos by Russell Burton.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
I just threw this question up on the WhatsApp for our Thursday Night Fight Club group and I reckon the most accurate answer was “a cross between Keith Flint and Nora Batty”. Thanks Jonty.
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?
I tend to just ride test kit all the time so rarely buy anything but I did get a really good tub of udder cream from the local farm shop a few months back which is great for when my feet and hands start splitting in winter.
Then there’s the ’Scottish gimbal’ idea I stole off Andy from the McTrail Rider website when we hooked up with US YouTuber BKXC for the Fort Bill edit. Basically it’s a Go Pro just stuck on the bottom of a full face chinguard to give a gimbal style perspective and stability but without all the arsing around of an often pissy, seizure-prone robot on your chest. Andy has quite a fancy set up with a mic inside his helmet but I’ve modified/dumbed it down to a ‘Yorkshire gimbal’ which is literally a GP zip tied onto the chin with a bit of old Patagonia fleece jacket (thrift store find obviously) laggy banded over the top as a noice reducing merkin.
In terms of stuff I’ve tested, SRAM’s new AXS wireless gear and dropper post control system is potentially a genuine game changer in terms of simplifying bike set up, boosting on trail performance and cleaning up aesthetics. The price is next level too though…
Don’t get the minty udder cream though, that stuff is brutal.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I can blather on about the technical intricacies, character traits and pros and cons of a bike/component into a GoPro while still riding as fast and hard as I can with my mouth shut.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Heed: It’s not really advice but don’t leave your bottles/cans/gels/wrappers/other shit lying around at trailheads or anywhere else you stop.
Ignore: You need a certain piece of kit or clothing to be a proper rider. Yeah, I know ironic for someone who’s done what I’ve done for as long as I have but some of my best rides have been on the cheapest bikes and kit.
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’d go back to the last day of Interbike Dirt Demo in Las Vegas in 2003. It had been a typically awesome session of back to back, dawn to dusk bike thrashing right up until I over sent a Tomac Eli out of a compression ditch. I forgot the brakes were reversed, high sided and bailed over the bars.
That’s not out of the ordinary for me to be honest but the bit I’d change is that I straight legged a berm when I landed and broke the lower bearing surface (tibial plateau is the posh word) of my right knee in half and slid half my shin a centimetre or so down my leg. The nice man at the fire truck didn’t think I’d broken it though and I could still sort of stand up on the remaining half of my knee so I believed them.
Plus the stories I’d heard about casualty in the Las Vegas hospitals from Gracia scared the shit out of me so we nicked a wheelchair from a casino and I did the rest of the show in a haze of Advil and static shocks off everything I touched.
To be honest the anecdotes from that trip are almost worth the two months in an ankle to hip cast, but I miss not being able to run with my daughters and it’ll probably come back and haunt when I’m older.
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?
I waste an infuriating amount of ride time working out the perfect outfit to wear and then not being able to find it.
From a purely mercenary point of view I should have stopped doing all the extra unpaid work sorting shit out and going beyond the call of duty for the magazines ages ago too, but on the other hand I’m really proud that I always did the best job I could until I wasn’t even close to making minimum wage on a time/£ ratio.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
Listen to “Hate you” by Frank Carter on repeat while driving to Stainburn to ride myself into a shaking, heart hammering, adrenaline raped pulp.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
Absolutely beasting myself along flat out pedally, technical singletrack, preferably while racing/dropping mates.
Racing Ard Rock with my daughter Freya on our Nicolai tandem is right up there too though.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
Ryan Bullimore’s fatal crash at Pontypool. I didn’t know him personally but he was clearly the kind of kid who deserved a long and happy life.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
Full unrestricted mountain bike trail access across the whole world.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Adrian Carter from Pace as I always love to hear what he’s thinking, Cal Jelley from Evil because, well just because Cal and Steve Bate because he’s a proper inspiration.