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 at you from Alice Clews-Smith.
Alice Clews-Smith is Ortlieb Brand Development Manager over at Lyon Cycle Equipment during the day, and by night, and other times of day, a rider, racer and co-founder of the Steezy Collective.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
I thought it’d be best to go direct to the source. Here are a few little quotes from my go-to riding pals. ‘So full of stoke like, all the time’, ‘Always up for a wild adventure’, and ‘As a riding buddy laughter is guaranteed.’
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 decent waterproof jacket, especially since my big move back up North.
Other than that, investing in some decent discipline-specific kit. I recently had a discussion with a colleague about cycling vs the likes of skiing. People are willing to splash out thousands of pounds on technical gear for skiing, yet we don’t do the same with cycling. And why not, we’ll spend the money on the bike and components. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my comfort on the bike recently and wouldn’t look back.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I rarely go on a ride without Welsh Cakes. Despite them being the claggiest snack.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
You’ll never regret a ride, no matter how hard it is to get on the bike.
Ignore people who say “no pain, no gain.”
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?
This is a big question. The best day I have had on the bike was during the Lakeland 200. I wouldn’t change a thing about that whole trip but there was one day that will stick with me.
As we crested the last hill of the day the sunset was unreal. We all lined up on the top and the photo became the cover photo of the trip. Standing there with some of the Steezy crew, having travelled so far was something special.
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?
Chasing numbers. I am very competitive, too much for my own good sometimes. It often meant that I missed out on riding with people, racing or signing up for events, just because I feared being slow. When I took the pressure off and learnt to totally surrender to my bike and the adventure it provided, I found a whole new level of freedom and fun.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
A flick through some old photos or my cycling playlist usually does the trick. Although, the other day I listened to Seasons and the hunger to ride was real.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
When I plan a trip or ride, I never know what the trail might hold. All I know is that each pedal stroke will leave the chaos of the world further behind. Every trail is different for every person that rides it, and every season can further change the trail’s very nature irrevocably. One day you can be fighting through a mud bath and the next you could be flicking up dust and floating over roots.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
Not specifically cycling, but I think the ruling regarding wild camping on Dartmoor could really jeopardise adventure sports in general. With so little of the UK being accessible and an even smaller proportion being accessible by bike, we’re going to see a rise in bikepacking and MTB happening abroad. This is disheartening as we have such a beautiful countryside to explore and share, leaving it to the few seems a shame.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
I want to see more women in the industry. I spend a lot of time riding with an awesome collective (check out Steezy Collective here) run by my partner. It fills my heart to see such a diverse group of cool people on bikes just having a great time, but I recently realized this isn’t reflected in the industry. This needs to change.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Founder and Director of Steezy Collective, Kitty Dennis. Heard on the grapevine she’s a bit of a legend in the cycling scene.
You can keep tabs on Alice’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.