Wise Words is our new interview series talking to some of mountain biking’s most switched on people.
Wise Words is where 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 come to you from one Julia Montague.
Julia is communications manager for the Crankworx World Tour and the World Ski and Snowboard Festival which means she needs to know three sports inside out, and the nuances of all of the disciplines within them and be able to tell the world about them. No small feat. Also a very stoked and a very fast human on a bicycle.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
My friend Ollie told me last year that I was “the most naturally stoked person” he knew. That means more to me than someone telling me I’m a “sick shredder,” or something reflecting my abilities. Because at the end of the day I think the person winning is the one having the most fun.
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 replaced all my helmets. Riding is one of my greatest passions, but I also happen to love my brain. A lot. Do you ever stop to think about everything your brain does for you?! I am so privileged to have the job that I have, and it’s all brain.
So I throw money at whatever might give me the best chance of keeping it intact and doing it’s thing. I did the same in skiing and, lo and behold, had a pretty spectacular bail this past season and gave my head a good jingle. I’m back at full(ish) capacity, and pretty grateful my new helmet cracked, instead of my head.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
Lots of people seem to have little mantras and sayings that keep them going. In my spin class I hear a lot of “shut up legs” (I Googled this and see it’s attributed to road cyclist Jens Voigt). I’m a bit of a hippie and take a different approach. I tell my legs I love them.
I have conversations with different body parts, telling them how grateful I am they are strong enough to do what they do for me. For me, it’s all about practising positive reinforcement on the trails.
There is basically a constant running commentary in my head (and out loud if I’m riding solo) congratulating myself on little wins, and telling myself “you’ll get it next time” if I’m struggling on a techy climb, or opt to take a chicken line on the down. For me, mountain biking is not about conquering fears or discomfort, it’s about learning to live in harmony with them.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
I just know what works for me. Be friendly. Smile. Have fun. I’ve met some amazing people just by being open out in the world chatting in the lift line or on the trails. You never know what that interaction might spark.
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?
Whistler Bike Park closing day 2017. This was the end of my first season living in Whistler and riding park all summer. We amassed the best crew and dressed up in whatever costumes we could find. I wore my vintage one piece ski suit, a surprisingly solid choice for chilly fall riding. It had rained in the week prior and the trails were mint. The stoke levels were very, very high. That was a moment in time I’ll remember forever.
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?
Wishing I was somewhere else in my ability/job/life other than where I’m at. Start where you are today. Enjoy the process of getting better. In all things, I believe the goal is to learn and grow. It’s not about reaching a certain milestone, distinction or finish line. Keeping this top of mind is easier said than done.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
Take it easy. Switch gears. Chill. I’m human and try to make space for my humanness when it crops up. I tend to complicate things sometimes. Honestly, sometimes all my struggle is is tiredness. So… get some sleep. Drink some water. Try again tomorrow.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
The flow state is the most amazing feeling I’ve experienced. When you’re charging on a trail, instinct is running full gas and your body does exactly what you’ve taught it to do, and your brain is 100% (OK, maybe 98%) focused on the section of trail in front of you…not that work email that peeved you earlier, or the to-do list waiting for you at home. That feeling is sublime. I’ve never experienced it as pure or lasting as I have in mountain biking.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
Honestly, nothing. No need to regret the past or try to shut the door on it. Everything is an opportunity for growth and evolution. (Did I mention I’m a bit of a hippie?!)
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
I want to tell more rad stories to more people. I have the privilege of getting to witness, record, write and share a lot of mountain bike history. Looking back over the past six years since I’ve been in the middle of this circus, I’ve noticed a shift. More people are watching what we’re doing. So with that in mind I want to dig deeper and think broader. Find more ways to tell our story to the non-cycling world.
Last year we did a video series focused on the women of Crankworx, and this reached more people than anything like it we’ve done. It was picked up and became a part of a greater overall narrative about women at this point in history. I feel like the world understands mountain biking – our community and what we’re all about – a little better after that. So what story are we going to tell them next? When I figure this out I’ll let you know.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
My boss, Darren Kinnaird, one of the most stoked people in the bike industry (in my humble, and stoked, opinion).
Or the very badass and lovely Kate Ball, who manages all the media squids for the Enduro World Series.