Wise Words | Anna Riddell.

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 Anna Riddell.

Anna Riddell wears many hats, being a mum, founder of RideOut guiding and coaching, Endura ambassador and co-founder of the women’s cycle festival Limitlass, having also put a serious shift in getting Scotland’s North East some much needed attention from the outdoor community.

Photos by Dan Milner.

How would your closest riding buddies describe you to someone who has never met you?

I asked one of them and he said these lovely words: 

Anna is “an enthusiastic, effervescent and energetic encourager who brings joy to every ride”. 

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?

My Garmin Fenix watch as it tracks my heart rate variability. I’m not the best at resting, so I have found this incredibly useful. It basically tells me I need to slow down before I think I do. Once my HRV starts dropping, I ease off even if I feel fine. It’s been a game-changer in regards to sustaining my energy.

What unusual habits do you have as a bike rider?

Apparently, I have a few… Forgetting a water bottle or grabbing the nearest one, even if it’s a kids Disney one, rating crashes as good or bad, an obsession with sunlight and heart shaped rocks, forgetting where one’s bike/bag/coat is at the end of a stop.

What piece of advice do you think every mountain bike rider should hear? And what piece should they ignore?

To let go of the outcome and instead focus on feeling good in the moment. Celebrate where you are at.

Ignore your unhelpful self talk, we are our own biggest critics.

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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?

Last September, I guided a group around the Torridon classic route. It’s a big, tough day in the mountains and a goal of mine to guide in that environment. So I put it out there and got clients booked in. It ended up being a dream-like day in Scotland: sunny, no wind, no midges, and the group were incredible. Coming into the final section of the infamous Annat descent, I let the group go ahead, knowing we were dropping down into the finishing point, and I hung back.

I had a proper wee moment watching everyone ride down the trail, the light dropping, and open views of the sea and mountains. Happy tears were rolling down my face, and I felt so proud of what I had achieved in biking to get to this point. It was a solid moment of disbelief and self-belief all rolling into one. Last year was such a tough year for me, so I felt very happy at this moment. Torridon will always be special to me. It’s magical.

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?

My biking career as a coach/guide didn’t start until my thirties, and I don’t feel like I’ve wasted time. Ten years in, I feel I have accomplished so much more than I could have ever dreamed of. Coaching, guiding, founding RideOut and co-founding Limitlass, racing, having adventures and meeting incredible people along the way. I’m loving every single minute of it. This year, I am also going to be guiding for H+I,  which is really exciting. 

How do you motivate yourself when you’re struggling or lacking inspiration?

My friends, clients and kids motivate me. If that fails, a bit of Instagram scrolling can give me a wee boost. There are so many incredible people out there doing remarkable things.

What single and specific thing about riding bicycles do you gain the most happiness from?

Sharing what I have learned with others and witnessing the joy and excitement they experience from their achievements brings me great satisfaction. Moreover, I simply adore the pure sensation of riding in the forest, awakening all my senses. It’s the best.

What single thing would you like to erase from cycling history from the last year?

The recent job losses. Highly skilled and experienced individuals have lost their jobs, potentially leading them to exit the sector altogether. It’s a massive loss for the industry.

What single thing would you like to make happen in the cycling world in the next year?

In the next year, I would like to see and continue to support more women to start guiding and coaching and play my part in building up a respected and valued industry of female coaches and guides. 

Who else should we ask these questions to?

Claire Bennett.

You can keep tabs on Anna’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.