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 none other than Phoebe Sneddon.
Phoebe Sneddon is a self-confessed ‘full time semi-professional leisure athlete’, but she’s also a paediatric emergency medicine doctor, mum and rider of all kinds of bicycles.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
The eternal enthusiast, like a Fiat Panda, handy for most off road conditions, excellent in snow but if it’s really gnarly you’d be better off with someone else.
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?
It wasn’t a purchase but I’ve recently been lent a Specialized Levo SL to play on and having been a bit of a purist I wasn’t sure how much I would embrace riding an ebike, but my god has it made a difference.
I’m a super busy, knackered mum juggling a million things at any one moment so to be able to jump on this bike and smash round my local woods to clear my head, still be back in time for tea and not be totally worn out, has been an absolute revelation.
I think we could all do with embracing a little e-assist in our lives. I’ll definitely be looking to buy an ebike in the future not just for improving my own riding but also for towing and hauling the rest of the family around the trails.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
Hates gloves, loves jorts.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
If the peak has come off your helmet it’s time to go home, aka look after your brain.
Ignore anyone that says there’s no place for jorts in mountain biking.
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?
Any ride spent with my partner Scot in the Lake District. I was fairly new to that kind of riding when we met and he has exceptional levels of patience. He really helped me fall back in love with mountain biking. Slogging up those big hills, carrying the bike, only to sit at the top, take in the view and in my case “bobble” my way back down.
There is just something so utterly nourishing for the soul about that kind of riding in a place as special as the Lakes. I think probably one of my best days out there, sitting on Grizedale Pike, it was unseasonably warm and we were up there in T shirt and shorts just soaking up the view before blasting down for chips and beer.
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?
Worrying about how fit I am. I just ride my bike now, I still race cyclocross, gravel and some MTB but I just ride what I want, when I want rather than worrying about complex training schedules and interval sessions. I’ve wasted a lot of time in the past worrying about power and numbers, now I’m just grateful if I’ve managed to find the time to get out and ride.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
I know that I will always feel better for getting out, if I’m worn out I try to take the pressure off, keep it close to home and just mess about in the woods.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
I love the feeling of clearing my mind, being out in the middle of nowhere, ticking along and taking in the surroundings. I have a fairly stressful job as a paediatric emergency medicine doctor so riding my bike is my down time.
However, the thing that gives me the most joy is watching my daughter enjoy riding her bike. She’s really gained in confidence this year, seeing her whizzing about on the bike, whooping and shouting makes my heart want to explode.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
The over glamourisation of ultradistance riding. I think long distance bike riding is ace but ultradistance racing, as a rider and as doctor stresses me out. The glamourisation of that level of suffering and physical harm doesn’t sit well with me. I think those events could still be just as exciting and competitive with enforced rest/breaks and therefore much less chance of riders losing their lives doing it.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
I wish more brands would champion women of my age, from all ethnic backgrounds. Women in their 30-40s are more often than not busting their arses raising kids, running households, holding down careers. We don’t see them in the world of sport and the outdoors. They are there, I can vouch for that.
We are out here doing stuff, taking our kids out, having our own adventures but often under the radar. The hurdles that need to be overcome to do that for these women are immense. I wish it could be more recognised and celebrated. No one wants to see any more men doing sick whips. We want to see more women with interesting backstories achieving great things. If you can see it you can be it.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Jen Purcell and Vicky Balfour.
You can keep tabs on Phoebe’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.