Wise Words | Ella Conolly.

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 is coming at you this week from none other than Ella Conolly.

Former World Cup cross country pinner, Ella Conolly successfully made the jump to enduro and took the 2018 Enduro World Series U21 title at the first time of asking. Fast forward to Madeira 2019 and she’d bag herself her first Elite podium. Happiest when riding bikes or eating cake. Wise beyond her years.

Photo by Sven Martin.

How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?

Probably smiley, enthusiastic and excited, that seems to be the impression most people have of me. Maybe throw determined and calculated in there too…

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?

Shoes. Buying new riding kicks transformed my riding experience. The difference not only in comfort, but how different shoes feel through the pedals and the control that gives you is definitely something I’d overlooked before.

What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?

Getting lost. I have the worst sense of direction in the world. Sometimes it’s actually pretty useful as I find myself accidentally discovering new places.

I also love riding in the rain. The muddier the better, until it’s clean up time.

Photo by Boris Beyer.

What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?

Advice – Ride with people that inspire you to improve. Follow faster riders, observe their line choice, body position etc. It’s a great way to learn.

Ignore – Anyone that tells something has to be done in a very particular way. There’s not always a right and wrong in this sport, everyone can have their individual approach. Find what works for you.

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?

Madeira EWS. Everything clicked and I found that elusive flat out, riding on the edge while still in control feeling that I’d been trying to achieve during a race for ages. It’s not even all about the podium, I loved everything about the place and the trails.

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I dropped my chain out of my chain guide on one of the stages but honestly, I wouldn’t change that- it taught me to keep a level head under race pressure (and to start races with my bike in tiptop condition). The only thing I’d change would be being able to pee quicker in antidoping.

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?

XC. Wish I’d discovered enduro even sooner. But there’s lessons to be learned in everything so is anything a waste of time?

Seriously though, riding a poorly set up bike. I spent all of last season making big changes to my suspension during EWS practice which was a huge distraction. This year I had the opportunity to do some preseason tuning with Rockshox at their camp in Peille and I’ve never felt so comfortable on my bike.

Photo by Sven Martin.

How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?

Go explore somewhere new. Whether it be a different country and culture or trails I haven’t ridden before. Surrounding myself with the right people also helps massively.

If I’m lacking motivation for training, reminding myself how lucky I am to have this as a career and how it felt to stand on the EWS podium usually does the trick.

What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?

That buzz. I guess its adrenaline really. Craving some of that at the moment.

Photo by Sven Martin.

What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?

Okay there’s one obvious answer here. Coronavirus. But from history, not just the cycling world. Can we go racing and all ride together again now please?

What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?

I’ve seen a load of new people out on bikes in the UK since the start of the pandemic, using it as their daily exercise. I’d like to help inspire them to continue riding bikes once it’s all over.

Who else should we ask these questions to?

Gowaan Gals. Guaranteed entertainment.

Keep tabs on Ella’s adventures on his Instagram feed here.

You can catch all our previous Wise Words interviews with the likes of Sven Martin, Manon Carpenter, Ric McLaughlin and plenty more here.