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 none other than Katie Lozancich.
You’ll no doubt have seen Katie Lozancich’s work from Red Bull Formation and Rampage, alongside a heap of words and photos for big mountain bike brands and magazines. A former ski instructor too, she’s tagged a cover shot of the 2023 Backcountry Photo Annual and is a pretty handy artist too.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
My riding friends have lovingly given me the nickname “Spud/Spirit Spud.” Its origin is a convoluted story, but I think I earned it by always having a positive attitude despite the type-2 fun debauchery we put ourselves through. Also, the word “Spud” conjures up nothing goofiness, and I’ve always been someone who’s never taken herself too seriously.
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?
Getting my Juliana Roubion made a huge impact on my life, because it was the first bike I owned that actually fit me properly. My previous bikes didn’t fit me quite right and I didn’t know better because I was a newer cyclist, so it didn’t inspire much confidence and held my progression back significantly. It was eye-opening to ride the Roubion initially because, it quickly instilled so much confidence in me.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I am not a fan of having folks ride behind me. I’m very content to be the caboose, and I love watching other folks’ lines. That’s not to say I won’t ride in the front, but I just like chilling in the back.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Advice to hear: Ride your ride and have fun. Show up where you’re at, and don’t give a shit about your skill level. I spent too much time at the start of my MTB journey concerned with my riding level and worried that I wasn’t fast enough. In hindsight, my friends were always excited that I showed up to ride. I think we place too much pressure on ourselves, and that ruins the fun of it all.
Advice to ignore: Just go faster, and you’ll be fine on that jump or that rock garden. Speed is important for progression, but it’s not the fix to everything. Learning proper riding techniques for hitting jumps and technical terrain allows you to ratchet up the speed. You need that foundation rather than just flying into features and hoping for the best.
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’d re-ride a day in which my closest friends Max and Lily came to visit my boyfriend and me on the East Coast. It was our second year living in Western Massachusetts, and before my move east, I had lived in the Jackson, WY area for 6-ish years and built an incredible community. They were our first friends from WY who visited it, and it meant a lot that they spent so much time riding all our favorite trails and appreciating what our new home had to offer. Lily and I have had a similar journey with mountain biking, and it was fun to ride all of this challenging terrain with such confidence and cheer each other on. I was smiling the whole weekend.
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?
Waiting to be good enough. I’ve found that it’s worth showing up, even if I can only ride 50% of the trail. Maybe next time, it will be 75% and then 85%. All that progression builds, and it starts by showing up and trying.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
When I feel sluggish or out of it, I like to remind myself that “I never regret riding once I’m there.” Biking is my detox and escape, so even if it’s a 30-minute cruisy lap in the woods, it still goes a long way. On the days I’m not feeling it, I make the experience less about the ride and being present in the surroundings. My favorite local trails are in an extraordinary forest, so I’ll use that time on my bike to appreciate the trees or soak in the view. It’s like a meditation with a super fun descent.
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
Bikes are a tool for creating connections, sometimes instantly. I’m always amazed by the vibrant friendships I’ve made from cycling. For example, last winter, I was traveling and working in New Zealand, and I briefly connected with a Swiss rider. We only chatted a bit, but stayed in touch, and she ended up doing a road trip through the U.S. She came and visited me in Massachusetts, and we rode at my local park. We had a blast, and we talked about how I needed to visit her in Europe.
Sometimes in these scenarios, I mentally step back, pause, and think, “holy crap, this person is a complete stranger to me. Yet mountain biking has made that irrelevant.” I think it’s so cool that we can use cycling to let down our guards and interact with new people, especially in this highly polarized and tense world; it’s refreshing to find commonality through our sports.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
The fact that no female athletes were invited to Red Bull Rampage or Red Bull Joyride. I said it. I was a skier before I was a mountain biker, and it has always felt strange to me the absence of women at these pinnacle cycling events. Especially now when the athletes are progressing so exponentially and the talent pool is growing. It’s a step backward for 2023 and continues to limit our sport.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
I want to see more equity in the world of cycling. Piggybacking my previous thought, the talent pool is there. We just need to create a structure and system where women can have the same opportunities as their male colleagues. More girls than ever are getting into the sport; we need to create a path for them to chase their dreams and thrive as professional cyclists and those opportunities shouldn’t solely exist in the world of racing.
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Katie Holden, founder of Red Bull Formation, Freeride athlete, and the nicest person you’ll ever meet.
You can keep tabs on Katie’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.