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 come to you from Mr. Jim Bland.
In between duties keeping The Union team’s bikes running tip top, Jim Bland can be found riding any given bike at warp speed or tagging some people doing similar things whilst peering through a camera. Jack of all trades, master of… most of them.
Photos by Sven Martin unless stated.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
Small-ish, summertime enthusiast, bit of a nerd, loves tea, quite polite.
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?
Probably a Portes Du Soleil season lift pass. The whole UNION crew were lucky enough to get put up in a BikeMorzine chalet for the bulk of last summer, so the prime location and extensive lift network provided some fun times and useful testing sessions.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I’m really fussy with how my bike is set up. I’m that nerd who obsesses over micro psi adjustments and 2.5mm stem spacers… don’t worry I’m not proud of it either.
Also, it’s pretty funny, but I hate getting unnecessarily muddy. If there’s a random puddle or thick bog I’ll slow down to avoid it.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Maintain and improve the tracks you’ve got rather than just scraping in new ones all the time. I feel that respecting the woods is really crucial to the image of biking as a whole.
This goes out to any young people working in the industry. Ignore anyone asking you when you’re going to ‘get a real job’. There are some amazing opportunities to be had in the world of cycling if you genuinely love it.
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?
So hard to pick one, but probably any day from my trip to Molini with Rad Rides MTB, that place really blew me away.
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 try not to think like that, I’d rather try to learn something from a negative and just move on. It’s all learning.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
British winter usually gets me down, so I try to use that time to pick up some tools and start to fix the trails for spring. I’m by no means the most proactive trail builder but anything is better than nothing. It can seem like effort at the time but the thought of riding prime tracks in killer weather keeps me going.
Shoutout to all the diggers who are slaving away and creating tracks that mean the sport progress and allow everyone to have fun.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
Those spontaneous unplanned days that just develop in to the fun ones. Nothing better than meeting at 9am, having a sick days riding then finishing up at 4am on the dancefloor still wearing your knee pads.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
The closing of Revolution Bike Park.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
More quality print media and full-length riding videos. I’d love to see more riders and companies stacking clips for long-term projects. I think 50to01 have really shown that we’re missing more of this in mountain biking.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Mick Kirkman, Jack Clark and Russ Paver.
You can keep tabs on Jim’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.