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!
Photos by Irmo Keizer/Shimano 2019.
Wise Words this week comes to you from Ben Hillsdon.
Ben is likely most industry folk’s main contact with Shimano if you live within the realms of Europe, so certainly has his work cut out for him keeping people informed of the Japanese giant’s newest wares. Before becoming Press Officer for Shimano, Ben performed a very similar task for Raleigh here in the UK.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
I asked a riding friend this question. He said “a c*$t who likes to think he has friends.”
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 bought myself a PRO dropper post and wow, what a difference it’s made to my confidence and my ability to position my body around the bike. Wish I’d bought one years ago.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
Being distinctly average at most disciplines. Road racing, TT, gravel, CX, Track, XC, Enduro, tried them all, enjoy them all, but not with any great ability.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Be the gorilla. That is, get into the ‘attack stance‘ when riding.
Ignore pretty much everything you would do on a road bike apart from turning the cranks.
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 joined Shimano just before the launch of the Deore XT M8000 series in 2015. I have a distinct memory of the stillness of the mountains as my cable car winched its way up the hillside in the shadow of Mont Blanc. The biggest day of descending I’d ever done followed by beers around a camp fire, I felt completely beat up but absolutely elated.
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?
Buying to a budget. I’ve learned there’s a reason why the good stuff costs more.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
I remember that for two years my riding has been hampered by an irregular heart beat. Now that appears to be fixed so every ride feels like a step forward. I keep a ride log and matching or improving on time in the saddle from the month before is motivation enough.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
The sights that create long-lasting memories, a deer in the forest or the sun coming through the trees early morning in the Netherlands, a cliff top view in Massa Marittima, mid-ride beer stops at Santa Coloma de Farners, or post-ride swimming in a lake at Lenzerheide. Photos don’t do these things justice…
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
Anyone who crashed so bad it ended their season.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
Recognition of trail builders. Modern day heroes.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Dave Spielmann, H+I Adventures.