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 to you from none other than Damien Oton.
Damien Oton is part of that exclusive club of riders who raced the Enduro World Series at its inception a decade ago, took multiple race wins and has walked away from the Megavalanche as the fastest man from Pic Blanc to the finish line.
Now a bike shop owner and a man integral in the development of the latest raft of the latest Orbea mountain bikes.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
I think like a crazy person. Especially as someone who is passionate and loves what they do. Well I think.
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 bike shop. I invested all my money in this store and today I am proud to be able to sell the Orbea brand. Entrepreneurship is something new for me, it’s very similar to sport. Lots of stress and challenge, but now I’m a rider, I’m also part of the development with OOLAB and I sell the bikes. The circle is complete, right?
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I ride with the brake levers flat, probably due to my past as a moto biker.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Basic suspension tuning. In French we call it SAG. There are too many people who don’t do it. For me this is essential for a bike to function correctly.
What they shouldn’t know is how scared I am every year at the start of the Megaavalanche. 115kmh with a bike on the snow is scary.
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?
I have experienced a lot of great things thanks to cycling with World Cup victories, trips etc. But if I had to remember just one it was the birth of my daughter Joy. It was an incredible and unforgettable moment. I won’t change anything.
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?
The injuries. It’s always very hard in an athlete’s career. The world is crumbling in front of you. The hardest was when I broke my back , it took me a long time to recover, especially psychologically.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
I’m going for a ride alone. Nothing better.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
Blind racing. It’s so much fun.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
Hard question but it will be all the cyclists who are killed on our roads by drivers, there are still too many.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
More people on bikes. It’s so good to see people on bikes. So big cities have to adapt and we have to do everything so that people get a taste for it.
And of course more enthusiasm for mountain bike races and the media much more interested in them.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
You can keep tabs on Damien’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.