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 this week comes to you from Mr. Jamie Gardiner.
Jamie Gardiner half of the sibling team that brought you Mudhugger, that evolved from a rider need and a bit of ingenuity into the brand it is today. Think of a big old front mudguard and you’ll likely hear it called a Mudhugger regardless of brand.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
If beer is involved, you’ll probably get him to do it…
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?
Didn’t exactly buy it, but YouTube yoga videos. I’ve been using an old Ryan Giggs DVD for the past couple of years and whilst it’s a great core strength and flexibility workout there’s only so much Giggsy charisma you can put up with…
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
Don’t think it‘s unusual but if I’m going to try something new, usually at our local DH area, I have to wear my lucky socks. Trouble is, every so often I have to find my next pair of lucky socks after the toes go through or the washing machine eats them.
Strangely enough, the next pair of lucky socks are the ones I’m wearing when I try something new and bigger at the local DH area… if it goes well of course.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Good coaching is worth every penny. We’ve been lucky enough to spend time with many great coaches over the years, including Jedi, Katy Kurd, Matt Simmonds, all the way back to our first coaching session with Ian Warby in 2005. Just wish I could retain more than 10% of the information a week later.
Ignore anyone who says road biking can be fun. I’ll stop there before I upset my roadie buddies anymore. But they are wrong…
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?
In January 2014, we headed to Vancouver to set up our USA and Canadian distributors. After a successful couple of days down in Portland, Oregon, we headed back north to see Ken Maude and Rick Loader, Mudhugger fans and owners of Lynn Valley Bikes, which just so happens to sit about 1 mile from the bottom of the trails on Mt Fromme, home to many a classic Northshore trail. We’d taken our own bikes on the flight so were keen to get out onto the trails after the distribution discussions were done.
Sadly Ken couldn’t get out, but Rick and his wife Wendy met us at the bottom of the hill and we had a good hour or so climb to get to know each other a bit better. We were stoked that they’d managed to make the time to act as guides, as frankly, we’d been really struggling on the steep rocky terrain the Northshore is famous for, our standard let’s just do this as fast as we can, didn’t work here.
We were already starting to lose the light as we dropped into the top of Seventh Secret, as the guys had been delayed by babysitter problems, but the day was clear and sunny, so no big problem, we’d easily get the most out of the short January day.
The trails, as you’d expect, were amazing. Following Rick and copying his lines and janky hops around the corners really made the trails flow so much better. Trail led down into another trail, then another and another. I can’t remember the names of them but there was some pretty high Northshore (with shingles on the dh bits, we were stoked on that!) that we’d never have tried had we been on our own.
Ever had one of those really intense rides that seem to take forever, but when you check your watch only 45 minutes have passed? Well this was one of those… It’s all a bit of a blur, however, you can check out the POV video of some of it on our Mudhugger Youtube channel (filmed with potato camera I’m afraid, so don’t expect 4K)
It was practically dark by the time we hit the lower green trails to finish the ride off, and only then did Wendy let slip that Rick is technically blind (no driver licence allowed) and yet, how he manages to ride those trails with such awesome style is beyond me! Suffice to say it was high fives all around when we got back to the trailhead.
That night there followed the usual Gards Brothers beer fuelled celebrations, with a slap up meal at the local Danish restaurant we’d found just around the corner from our hotel.
5 pints of some local micro brewery ale before dinner followed by another 3 for dessert made for an eventful next morning as we headed back up Mt Fromme to tackle another Black trail on our own… however, that is another story altogether.
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?
Trying to build the lightest bike possible. It took me years to realise it was a complete waste of use of time. Still can’t quite believe the day I fitted some Maxxis Ardent Race (I think) and must’ve crashed on nearly every corner at a dusty Cannock Chase, all because they were 100g lighter or something… That said I do mostly ride my ebike now, so…
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
Luckily, that’s not normally a problem for me. However, we have an ancient climbing saying, ‘Some days you do, some days you brew (drink tea)’ so I don’t stress too much about it and just go with the flow.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
Of course hitting some steep tech corners is always top of the list when it comes to trail choice, and who doesn’t love the occasional jumpy flow trail? But what I really love about cycling (particularly down the hill bits) is that it’s all relative. What feels slow for some, feels fast to me and what feels slow to me feels fast to others. Of course at the bottom of the trail we’re all wearing the same grin, whether it’s riding buddies or my kids, everyone gets the buzz.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
Bike theft, trail vandalism and sabotage. About 400,000 bikes are stolen in the UK each year, that’s’ not too far off 1 per minute. I think I had 3 bikes stolen when I was a student in Bristol back in the early 90’s. In the end I just bought a beat up old racer to get around on and gave up MTB until I finished my studies.
I’m guessing most people won’t have any insurance and give up cycling as they can’t afford another bike.
Also trail vandalism really burns me up, when you consider all the hours of work put in by the diggers and volunteers. Don’t even get me started on trail sabotage…
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
I’d love to see more female riders out on the trails (or even on the roads if they must) and taking more leading roles in the bike industry. If my Instagram following is anything to go by, there’s still a long way to go on this score, 91% male vs 9% female. I can have 2 right? If I could wave a magic wand I’d get the Right to Roam act passed for England and Wales and start to plan some mega day long epics.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Isla Rowntree (maker of awesome kids and adult bikes), Jess Stone (first ever Pro Mudhugger ambassador), Rachel Wight (pinner and maker of a mean cup of coffee) or Sarah Fenton Tippie (daily inspiration for me and other parents).
Keep tabs on Jamie’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.