Wise Words is our 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 from trials supremo and all-round bike slinger Tom Oehler.
You might not have heard of Tom Oehler but he’s been a multiple trials World and National Champion, as well as holding two World Records, namely the fastest 400m hurdles on a bike and the highest wall climb on a bike. There’s pretty much nothing this guy can’t ride up or down.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
Didn’t know what to write so I asked one of my riding buddies: “His riding style is just incredibly smooth. When biking with Tom, you can always see that it makes him happy. I have never heard him say “this trail was shit, we should not even bother”, he just makes best of it. I can rely on him, whatever happens there is no drama, he keeps being chilled out, but focused. Do you remember that viral video of him riding narrow Mussolini trail above Dolomite cliff? Did he explained there was a milk carton in his rear tyre to fix the puncture?”
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?
My camper van. I use it a lot when I do my workshops or simple trips to just go out and ride or create content. I have all my gear in their for most of the time so it’s just a lot easier to start on trips and whenever I’m in the spot, I can stay there, sleep and wake up nice and early for the best light possible.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I don’t like super colourful branded clothes, I prefer to stay natural so I can blend into the high alpine terrain better. Would that be something? Or I prefer to ride rather then working, preparing and cleaning the bike all the time.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Don’t be a passenger on the bike but rather stay in control and move as much as you can. There is no set position on the bike, it always needs to adapt to the trail and the trail features.
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?
There is a handful all-day rides that really stand out from the rest. That is mostly because these days happened rather then they were completely planned. So one of these rides was with Harald Philipp in Vorarlberg/Austria. We started on a mountain hut on 2700m height, and only wanted to ride one very hard and exposed trail before breakfast. After the descent, we just kept going and ended up in the valley below, not bringing any money or food, but found amazing trails and had a really tough but good day.
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 don’t feel like I wasted much time for anything useless really. My career as a competitive trials rider blended into a career as a demo and media trials guy and that blended into mountain biking now. So I used to travel lots from city to city, crowded places with lots of people, and now doing more and more bike mountain rides and epic adventures.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
Sometimes you get caught up with life, family, business work on the laptop, and then it’s hard to make the step outside to ride. So usually I just have to push myself to get going and something good will happen. But for riding, there’s plenty of good video content that gets me inspired. I love watching Chris Akrigg’s stuff, for example.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
Being outside and exploring, I guess that is what keeps me going right now. Fairly simple really.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
Getting together with as many riders as possible to ride, enjoy and live.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Chris Akkrig and Andreas Tonelli.
You can keep tabs on Tom’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.