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 Vedangi Kulkarni.
Vedangi Kulkarni is a endurance athlete crossing multiple different sports, is part of the expedition management outfit The Adventure Shed, writer, racer and founder of MTB4ALL.
How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?
Enthusiastic, loves a good challenge and enjoys pushing herself. Will go for a hard, techy trail (even though she has to walk down some features every now and again) any day over jumps.
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?
Shoes that actually fit my wide feet, a full face helmet, ticket to ride Megavalanche. Oh, also a power meter.
What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?
I obsessively look at maps and weather forecast apps. Not sure if that’s unusual or just good sense. I always carry two energy bars with me. One for me, and one in case I come across someone who’s bonking on the ride.
What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?
Carry a first aid kit. It’s 100% worth it. Also, don’t try to copy someone else’s riding style or “trendy” phrases that they use.
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?
Megavalanche 2023. I cried at the start line. I was so, so, so nervous. And I had a waterproof jacket on. Sure it was cold at the top but where I was headed in the valley, it was 36 degrees. I stopped during my race run to help someone with a puncture. It didn’t cross my mind to take my waterproof jacket off then and I ended up wearing it the whole way down.
If I was to re-ride that day, I’d take that bloody jacket off at the top. That day, I rode all the scary and sketchy bits that had taken me a while to get my head around. I have never felt quite so brave and strong as I did on my bike that day. I really pushed to the edge of my riding ability. I felt utterly broken when I finally got to the bottom, but I loved the experience.
Pretty sure I was one of the last women down but I couldn’t care less about that. I had just done something utterly ridiculous on a 130mm trail bike. I had only raced once before this (Ard Rock). I felt proud, brave, strong and invincible. Only throwing yourself into the deep end and coming out on the other side can make you feel so alive.
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 for someone else to say yes to something so that I could go ahead and do the thing. I still waste my time on this sometimes. This is literally how dreams remain dreams and never turn into plans.
How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?
Normally I go outside and get some fresh air. Other things that work are cooking something nice, reading a good book, listening to my favourite music, etc. Basically, what really helps is being patient and compassionate with myself and avoiding digital self-sabotage at all costs (purposely using social media in a way that doesn’t serve me).
What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?
Endurance. Regardless of the discipline of cycling.
What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?
My previous answer was Hardline having to be cancelled, but I have now changed it to the Wiggle/CRC/Signa insolvency. I think I’d add the continuing lack of women at Red Bull Rampage to this list too.
On a more personal level, I had to cancel a race that I had organised (MTB4ALL) and it was absolutely heartbreaking to have to do that.
What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?
I’d love to organise a series of MTB events in different regions across the UK focused around progression in mountain biking. But this will have to wait until the last quarter of 2024 as I’ve got a huge expedition planned in the middle of the year (more info coming soon on my website/social media channels).
Who else should we ask these questions to?
Kyle Beattie from Inverness. He’s such a positive and happy human and is so frickin’ quick and stylish on the bike.
You can keep tabs on Vedangi’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.