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 the inimitable Jo Shwe.
If you haven’t had the honour of being swept away in the whirlwind of positivity that is Jo Shwe, then pray that one day you do, and before you know it, the sun will be setting and you’ll have done something wonderful without even noticing. Such is the power of the Jo.
By day Jo is a teacher at a Pupil Referral Unit in Wakefield, by night, a Trash Free Trails A-Teamer and creator of the #TrashMob. She’s also chairlady for the Yorkshire Trail Collective and a Cotic Bikes ambassador. A good egg.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
So my girl tribe say I’m enthusiastic, and passionate. The other half says I’m dangerously enthusiastic which I guess is a ‘safe’ way to say, ‘she has no idea what she’s doing but will always give it a go anyways, and either if it ends in a crash and tears or fists bumps, smiles and tears. It will end in tears…
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?
Absolutely my Cotic Jeht. It has given me a greater confidence with my riding and supported me tackling those more technical elements of mountain biking that I have longed to improve upon. It is such a beaut of a bike that makes me look like a super sender.
Also I just recently bought this really cool calendar that will be an aid to remind me of the beauty that can be found when out on your bike if you are just willing to explore that bit further. It will be my inspiration as I tackle 2022.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
Falling off my bike when it’s stationary is a strange habit, however I think the fact that I rarely look like I’m enjoying myself when riding is the most unusual. I always look so serious with a Resting Bitch Face. Not often is there a picture of me looking like I really love riding my bike whilst I’m on it, I am usually always smiling, laughing and joking about, and generally just happy to be alive, so it’s full on unusual to see me moody.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Mountain biking is for everyone; regardless if you’re slow, fast, a super sender or wheels on the ground kinda human, it’s for you… if you’re young, old, black or brown, gay, straight, trans or queer it’s for you…if you’re needing aids to ride, be this bike adaptations or an ebike it is for you…do not allow anyone who doesn’t ride your way make you feel shit… only you can do you, and mountain biking is for you…
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?
Well I kinda of did this one back in August.
I re-rode the trail at Antur Stiniog that I had my biggest crash on. I still can’t remember what happened on the day, but I ended up in Bangor hospital for a week with a broken wrist, concussion and a lacerated liver. This time round was with much gained knowledge and riding experience, which enabled to ride the track again and complete the trail that nearly killed me.
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 wasted a lot of time worrying about being judged and always being the one at the back. I wish I had given up this feeling long ago, however it’s better late then never to believe in your abilities and enjoy the ride for yourself.
Also my 40th Birthday in the Alps… riding from Les Gets to Chatel and then riding the Vink Line was just perfect loved it so much, gave me a whole new passion and lust for riding my bike.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
I watch ride videos, speak to ride friends, plan a ride so I have to go out and get Gavin to literally push me out the door…
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
Connection with my students and young people through delivering the TrashMob academy.
Connection with all the extremely wonderful people I have met and now call friends.
Connection with people striving to ensure mountain bikers of colour are represented and recognised.
Connection with nature and our wild spaces reigniting my love for the outdoors everytime I get on my bike.
Connection with Gavin whilst we ride out, just us and our wheels.
And most importantly, Connection to myself and the feeling of well-being when out on my bike.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
Not sure on this one…🤷🏽♀️
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
Greater representation for all those that are currently underrepresented because of their gender, race, colour, economic disadvantage, sexuality, ability, lack of privilege and demographic.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Rich Baybutt because he never responds…, Manawar Bashah and Frit Tam.
You can keep tabs on Jo’s racing exploits 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.