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 comes to you from none other than Piers Linney.
Piers is a former Dragon’s Den dragon and lawyer, non-executive director of the British Business Bank amongst many other titles, but currently, and more specific to bikes, he is the co-founder of Atherton Bikes.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
I was at school with my oldest riding buddy, Rod, and he introduced me to mountain biking after 20 years out of the saddle. For my 40th birthday I took all of my riding friends including Grant, then a mountain bike photographer, to Hafjell in Norway for four days of non-stop downhilling (as well as the odd sauna challenge in full-face helmets) and we still have an email group, so I thought I would just ask them:
“He’s known the power of bikes as good-time magnets from the start. Part of a BMX crew in the ‘80s he found himself a lone gun-slinger on a Stumpjumer in the early 2000s ‘till he joined the SE Raggers and they forced him to ditch it for a series of tidier whips. As a techno- magpie, with Piers there’s always something interesting that makes the experience of riding just that little bit different: before there was Strava, he got timing poles so we could time races.” – Rod
“Piers is the only man I know who has squeezed a mountain bike into a Porsche.” – Nick
“Hard man to pin down. When eventually followed downhill he is truly pinned!”, SJ
“The only way you’ll beat him down the mountain is if you’ve both got to ride up it first.” – Alex
“He rides hard – the only rider who I’ve ever known to snap a set of Boxxers… maybe think twice before letting him borrow your bike!” – Edd
“He’s fully-committed with a smile…and those Boxxers had it coming. Saying that, he’s also been known to play it safe, as he is the first man I’ve ever witnessed wearing a full face to a sauna.” – Jono
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?
In the last year, I have struggled to get out on my bike(s) and I haven’t purchased much – given I already have five bikes. A friend of mine has a place in the Southern Alps and while I was visiting him during the Summer I spent an afternoon on an electric full suspension bike that I hired.
Apart from the advantages moving between trails and just getting back up the long steep hill to the bike shop, I experienced a much wider range of people enjoying the trails. I realised just how new technology will introduce many more people to the joys of riding a bike on dirt.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
Nothing unusual. I used to sponsor Tom Dowie, then a 4X racer and he gave me a few lessons. When I first started travelling with my friends to ride XC at Afan of DH at bike parks, I did it on an Evil Sovereign (I recently sent Dave Weagle – its designer and Atherton Bikes partner – a picture of it) and I would hit anything and often it would end badly.
It took me a while to invest in a full suspension bike, a DH bike and bottom armour. Scars, broken bones, quite a bit of lost skin and the need to focus on my businesses mean that I am more risk-averse these days, but I think Dan Atherton may change all of that.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Never say, “just one more run”.
Ignore anyone who says, “never say, just one more run.”
Still confuses the hell out of me.
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?
It would be Day 2 during the Hafjell week when I took my riding friends away on an all expenses trip to celebrate my 40th birthday and hired a lodge next to the chairlift. By the afternoon of Day 2 everyone had got used to the hire bikes and dialled in the main trails.
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 don’t see any riding time as a waste of time and I am new to the industry so you are going to have to ask me that again in a few years.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
I have always been fascinated by how things work and that is why I went into business when I was just thirteen, I could see a problem that needed solving, which was delivered Sunday newspapers. I have ideas every day and what I have to work on is focus. I enjoy working with experts who inspire me and that is how I learn. I am motivated by clear goals, a plan to get there and a capable team that will put in what it takes to succeed.
My career journey is littered with stories of how I achieved something through unwavering determination. Even when faced with something I really didn’t want to do, but could see it was a stepping stone to something I really wanted, I have always been able to keep my eye on the prize and get the job at hand done.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
Hanging out with friends sharing something everyone clearly loves doing.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
I really can’t answer that other than to say me not getting to Coed y Brenin last weekend to ride.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
I want Atherton Bikes to be recognised as a new force in the industry that combines the passion, history, expertise and lifelong dreams of the Atherton siblings with state-of-the-art technology to produce awesome bikes that will eventually be available for all riders.
Who else should we ask these questions to?