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 come to you from none other than Emily Batty.
If you haven’t heard of Emily Batty, then it’s highly likely that you’ve been living under a rock for quite some time. Just over a decade with Trek saw her rack up multiple national titles, World Cup podiums and those elusive World Championship medals, as well as being at the sharp end at the Olympics.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
I think my riding buddies would describe me as pretty easy going and fun to be around. When I’m on my mountain bike on a group ride, I like to push it and challenge myself, and I’m game to try anything as long as it’s within my skillset or close to 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?
Fall/winter riding clothing and a wash kit. Having a reliable winter setup like insulated shoes, booties, gloves, jackets, and thermal tights make all the difference. It extends the days riding outside with friends and family, and if you have a good wash kit to clean your bike after each ride, it makes the next day easy to get back on the bike and go again.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I’m not sure it’s unusual, but I brake with my middle finger. When I was young, I couldn’t reach the levers with my index finger, so I had no other option but to use my middle finger. It’s something that has stuck. Over time, I’ve learned to use my index finger for braking as well, so I guess you could say I’m pretty adaptable.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Ride a variety of terrain. Make dedicated time to work on specific skills. Hire a good skills coach who can help you build your confidence while also meeting new people. Join a club or a group of friends that keep it fun and engaging. Mountain Biking is fun, but it’s even more fun family, and friends can join.
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 mean, I want to say the 2016 Rio Olympics, but I feel like I rode the perfect race. All I needed was two more seconds, and I would have won the bronze medal. It sucks to be that close to winning a medal, but I’m also really proud of 4th and how clean of a race I rode, so I’m not sure there was anything I could have done better or changed.
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?
Being around people that don’t necessarily add value to my environment or bring me happiness. Life is short, and if there are people in your life who get you down or don’t add value or make you feel like you’re not good enough and not contributing in any way, you know it’s time for a change you need to move on.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
Glance at my goals and remind myself what I’m working towards. If that doesn’t work, ride with friends and family. I think it’s cliche to expect yourself to wake up motivated and hungry every day of the week. Motivation is an emotion. It comes and goes and is impacted by your environment. It’s ok to have days where you are uninspired or not motivated.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
It is getting outside regularly and the lifestyle that comes along with the pursuit of performance. I’m so lucky to ride a bike. I get to see and explore the world in ways that I could have never imagined. The sport of cycling has the best people too. Humble, happy, driven, easy-going, just cool people in general.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
Getting sick after all the stage racing and travel I did in January and February. I’m sure I had COVID. I have never been that sick in my entire life, and it took me nearly a month and a half to recover and begin riding again. I want to erase COVID in general, and I think it’s wearing on many people and the world.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
I would love to grow the Emily Batty Project to a point where it’s a global development pathway for entry-level cyclists and kids to have structure and a community to be part of where they can grow, develop, and make friends online and in-person.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
My husband, Adam Morka, who is launching Canyon MTB Racing in 2021 and has been by my side, helping me with everything throughout my entire career. We are the dream team and have many more goals in the sport.
Keep tabs on Emily’s adventures on her 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.