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 Kate Weatherly.
Kate is two times New Zealand National Downhill Champion in 2018 and 2019, and was struggling to break the top 10 at the UCI Downhill World Cup. Everything has started to come together for Kate in 2019 though, after missing Maribor, she’d bag a sixth in Fort William and backed that up with a third in Leogang.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
Probably something along the lines of a bit serious.
I hope they’d describe me as fun and friendly and I try my best to be involved and interesting in everyone, but I know that anyone close to me knows that if I’m training, I’m training, and that can often involve possibly an excessive degree of focus.
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?
That’s a hard one…
Working with a proper mountain bike coach has made a massive difference to my riding and has made a huge difference to my training, although I’ve been training in some form almost my whole riding career having a coach to give that training proper direction has made a huge difference to my ability to hold a high intensity on longer tracks (like Fort William and Andorra).
Also finally buying a good riding jacket, I hate riding in the rain and a good jacket makes life about one hundred times better.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I’m not sure if it counts as a habit but I dislike gloves with a passion, if I can avoid riding with them (temperature above 0 degrees Celsius and not in the pouring rain, or because of silly race rules) I will avoid them like the plague, as a result I am very picky about the grips I run.
Other than that I hate stopping mid run or spending too long at the top of a trail. Many of the people I ride with love to chat at the top of a trail or stop for breaks but if I can avoid it I’d rather rider straight in with minimal break, I hate riding cold and as a result I will always warm up before a ride and getting cold before a descent is just about me least favourite thing.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
I think everyone in mountain biking has opinions that they often feel the need to share and that’s fine but I think when we ride we need to remember that in the end mountain biking is about fun and it doesn’t matter how you get that fun, whether it means riding a 26 inch bike, an e-bike or plus sized tyres. Mountain bikers are some of the most opinionated people I’ve ever met, and I think its key to remember that when people share they’re opinions, they’re just that; opinions.
People should probably ignore every new trend being pushed on them by the industry, progress is important and often new products are better but in the end anyone can have fun on just about any bike and focusing on having fun and doing your best as a rider is the most important thing, and like I said before just focusing on you is what’s important, marginal gains are important but really, having fun is far more important than the 8.7% stiffness increase from the newest hub standard.
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?
An easy answer could be the first day of practice of Crankworx Rotorua 2015 when I hit a jump I really didn’t have the skill for and broke my femur and wrist. However, that was a great learning experience and as much time I lost on the bike and pain I went through I wouldn’t want to give up the lessons I learnt from that experience.
There have been many races I’d wished I hadn’t crashed or I’d pushed harder but again its all learning, I think if I was going to go back and re-do a day of riding it would be the race day of Crankworx Rotorua this year, the conditions were amazing and I achieved an amazing result, however, for me it was the sense of achievement clearing the jump I broke my femur on 4 years ago and hitting another massive jump on that track and just being able to relive those feelings would be incredible.
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 think worrying about the opinions of others, everyone always telling me what tyres to run, how much pressure I should have, and of course advice is important, but I spent too much time trying to make everyone happy and honestly, I think I should have focused on myself and my own riding more, especially not worrying about what other people think.
Also making excuses for bad race results, we all do it, but its far more productive to work out what went wrong and work to improve on that rather than using it as an excuse without taking steps to fix it.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
I’m a very lucky person as its very rare I struggle to feel motivated to ride/training, for me watching one of my favourite mountain bike videos is always helpful, especially winning runs from various iconic World Cups (Loic Bruni’s world champs run in Andorra, Aaron Gwin’s wet run in Mont Sainte Anne, that kind of thing), and another thing is I am pretty much the biggest nerd when it comes to recording ride data and analysing my riding.
If I don’t feel like training I enjoy going back and looking at all the worked I’ve done up until this point, and its good to remember that sometimes a lack of motivation is okay and its better to take a day off and do something else I enjoy, and sometimes I just have to push through because I know that no matter the weather I’ll enjoy myself when I’m on the bike.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
The feeling of nailing a technical section of track going super quick is basically the reason I ride bikes. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing jumps and having fun with mates and doing a crazy steep, technical trail but what always gets me going is riding fast, whether it’s a flow track or a technical downhill if I can do it fast that’s what I love.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
There have been a lot of injuries in women’s riding lately (Tahnee’s shoulder, Myriam’s Foot, Monika’s concussion and now ankle and even Cecile Ravanel’s neck injury) it really sucks when people are injured and aren’t able to race and I think if I could I’d erase all their injuries but if I had to pick one it would be Tahnee’s crash at Fort Bill, crashing that hard on your first run is super hard and I wish she wouldn’t have had to go through that.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
I’d love to get more women inspired to ride and involved with riding, back home in New Zealand I’m involved with a women’s riding group called the Mud Maidens and they have been doing leaps and bounds for women’s riding in Rotorua but I’d like to do what ever I can to help boost the amount of women riding, whether that’s in downhill or just riding in general.
I hope that by doing my best I can inspire people but I also want to be more involved with women’s events and the riding community as a whole.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
These questions are really thought-provoking an interesting and I’d love to hear answers from someone like Yoann Barelli or Cedric Gracia.