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 the man behind Scrub Wheels, Mr Andrew Carman.
After a solid stint with Scott UK, Andrew Carman decided to pull the plug on the 9-5 and start his own wheel brand, Scrub Wheels, operating as a one man brand who handles sales, marketing, shipping and everything else, while hand-building his wheels to order.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
Man… That guy can sweat.
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?
A foam roller. I’ve never been someone who stretches much. Sure, I’d do an occasional 15 minutes of YouTube yoga but nothing on a regular basis. This year I’m trying to do more structured training to help get me in shape over the winter months and a big part of it is stretching and rolling. I’m only a few weeks in and already I can feel the benefits.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I’m a bit of a numbers nerd. I definitely get carried away with tyre pressures, shock pressures and settings. I’m a relentless fiddler. I wish I could be that rider who can jump on any bike and no matter how its set up just gets on with it, but I’m not. Everything has to be just right.
I also love a quiet bike. The lengths I’ll go to, to find that small rattle or knocking are sometimes quite ridiculous.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Do what makes you happy but don’t be afraid to explore beyond your normal horizons. The term mountain biking covers such a vast spectrum of riding styles. You don’t know what you may be missing out on.
What to ignore? It’s not necessarily “advice” but I’d definitely try to ignore any social media that make you feel bad about yourself or your riding. It’s far too easy to fall for the trick that makes you think that everybody is riding more and faster and harder and going bigger than you, and that can easily diminish your own enjoyment.
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?
It must be nearly 10 years ago when my wife and I went on a road trip in the US. We spent a few days in Moab and highlight has to be the Whole Enchilada trail. Starting at 3200 metres above sea level you climb a further 200m up to the Burro Pass. 27 miles later you are on the edge of the Colorado River having descended 2370 vertical metres, first through high alpine forest, then Aspen trees, then shrub land and finally to rocky desert. The variety of terrain and scenery that you ride through is unreal – it’s unlike anything we’d ridden before or since. Next time I’d definitely take more water though – it gets pretty warm in the desert – who knew??
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 wish I’d taken the leap sooner. I’d been working behind a desk with an idea for a brand for a while but there never seemed to be a right time to pull the plug but thankfully everything came together at the right time and it worked out really well. Being your own boss is equally exhilarating and terrifying.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
It’s easy to get bogged down and lose sight of how far you’ve come. I find a solo ride with some long climbs is a great way to straighten out my thinking. Writing lists help too, starting with the goal and working backwards through each step often makes the way forward really obvious
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
It’s that feeling of getting it just right. It doesn’t have to be particularly fast or stylish (thankfully). Just finding some rhythm and flow down something rough, maintaining momentum through some techy rocks and roots, that’ll do it for me.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
The massive increase in litter on the trails.
I think it’s great that so many people are getting out into the country side these days but it seems that this also brings a general lack of respect for our wild places and perhaps each other. I’m sure it’s a tiny minority of people that cause it and not necessarily solely down to mountain bikers but we can all do our bit to make sure we look after the places we ride.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
Some certainty in an uncertain world would be nice. The certainty that events will go ahead and that we will all be able to make plans and look forward to travelling and riding and racing.
From the perspective of a small business it is currently very difficult to predict much beyond 31st December 2020. Once we know what the arrangements will be, it will make life much easier. No doubt we will make it work whatever the outcome.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Andy Ward, former World cup mechanic, currently doing cool things with his Viris eyewear brand.
Keep tabs on Scrub Wheels on their 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.