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!
Dishing out the Wise Words this week is none other than Rosie Holdsworth.
Rosie Holdsworth is a human of many talents. Few can ride a mess of boulders on a bicycle with such composure whilst working her day job of Natural Flood Management Project Manager, on top of being an ambassador for Hope Technology and Trash Free Trails. If you can’t identify a plant or an animal in the UK, then Rosie will definitely help you with an infectious enthusiasm.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
They’d probably say “She’s basically sound and she’s a dafty, but if she starts talking to you about birds or trees or some shite just smile and nod and move the conversation back on to suspension set up”.
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?
2 things have been absolute game changers.
My new bike came to me just as we went into lockdown and it’s really bammed my riding up several notches. The HB130’s the shortest travel bike I’ve ridden in years and the first 29er I’ve had but it’s so fast downhill and climbs like a rat up a drainpipe, I’m riding much smoother and climbing better than I ever have plus I can almost wheelie now.
The second thing that’s revolutionised my life as a cyclist afflicted every month by a womb is my Mooncup. I won’t go on about it in too much gory detail to spare the delicate male sensibilities, but suffice to say, get one got, regardless of whether or not you’re the proprietor of a uterus, get one for your friends. It’s the single thing that’s made the biggest difference to my enjoyment of bikes (and life generally) since I started riding, I can’t overstate the impact it’s had.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I’m an insufferable nerd when it comes to nature, so I spend lot of time on rides peering at things through binoculars, looking at poo, waiting quietly for creatures to venture closer, poking dead things with sticks and offering unsolicited wildlife facts or bird identification tips for the benefit of anyone with the misfortune of being in the vicinity.
This means I spend a lot of time on rides not actually riding; which in turn means you can be confident that I’ll arrive at least 15 minutes late to any planned rendezvous “cos I was communing with a heckin’ massive Tawny Owl” or some such. I make no apologies; nature is rad as flip and taking time to really notice and appreciate its subtleties will bring a whole new dimension to your riding and make it an even richer experience.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Be nice, say hi. It’s a good mantra for life generally, but it’s so important for us mountain bikers, it’s kind of a nicer way of saying “don’t be a dick”. Cheerfulness always wins and politeness goes a long way. You could argue we shouldn’t have to, but like it or not we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Even the grumbliest ramblers will be forced to concede that you can’t be that terrible a human if you at least attempt to pass the time of day with them.
Ignore STRAVA. Seriously, nobody wins. It’s connected with my last point really, but I honestly believe that STRAVA’s done more harm than good to our sport. You can find new trails through so many other means, you can race your mates and total strangers at races, you can monitor your fitness with your watch. You do not need STRAVA.
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?
Oh boy. So many amazing days, bikes are flippin’ great eh. Riding in Torridon is always excellent and I’ve had a few perfect days riding up there. Probably my favourite ever though would be one of the horribly wet and midgey Torridon days I had when me and a load of my silly pals went on a camper van riding misadventure.
Someone was almost decapitated by a door, someone else had a massive crash and got trapped in a ditch, we all got very wet and cold and then went to the posh hotel and drank too much whisky. Rad bikes, walloping idiots, spectacular scenery, tasty food and mild alcohol poisoning. A day of days.
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?
Front derailleurs/2x chainsets. I’ve finally banished them from my bike collection; rest in hell, you confounded contraptions.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
I generally do OK for motivation, but I also love sleeping. If getting up and out seems like too much, having a dog and a husband who will wee on the carpet or chew the furniture if I don’t take them out for a run is a good incentive to get out there and face the day.
Winter is more of a struggle, but the smug feeling you get when you’re back home and showered and wrapped in tragic knitwear with a cup of tea is great motivation to get out for a boggy suffer fest.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
Probably the excellent people that riding bicycles has introduced me to.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
Lockdown. Having all the events and races everyone was looking forward to cancelled has sucked, and I really feel for the organisers who pour so much passion and effort into events. Also lockdown littering, clean up those trails, yo.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
It would be great if all the folks who have (re)discovered cycling and the great outdoors during lockdown are able to continue with it once we’re back to ‘normal’. I’ve got the feeling through lockdown that we could be on the cusp of a bit of a recreational access revolution.
It would be awesome if we could harness the energy and enthusiasm of all the ‘new’ countryside users and bring about much needed and sustainable change to English access legislation. There’s lots of talk of a green recovery, so hopefully cycling will have a strong role to play in this.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Dom Ferris, Claire Bennett, Ant De Heveningham, they’re all wise owls.