5 Mins With: Ed Oxley

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3958833752_43ff12a31dInterviewed by Nathan Clarke…

Most people plod through life, never really achieving the things they aspire to and working the same job until retirement and then it’s too late to change things and all they have are regrets.

So it is with an envious admiration that we look upon people who do the weird and the wonderful, those who rub shoulders with celebrities and do things we could only dream of!

One such person is Ed Oxley.

Ed has recently started his own mountain bike skills coaching company – Great Rock – and is enjoying a successful first year in business. His lessons are receiving good press and his tutelage is strongly recommended for anyone from absolute novice to seasoned riders who want a sure fired way of improving their biking skills.

“I’ve managed to gain a good reputation quickly” said Ed, “I have plenty of friends and contacts within the industry who have provided me with some invaluable advice and I’ve enjoyed a surprisingly successful first year. After all, when you go skiing you get lessons, mountain biking can be the same”.

However, Ed is not a born and bred mountain biker. In fact, his first experience with a mountain bike came in the early 90’s, at the age of 19.

Plenty of riding from Ed's doorstep to be had.

“I got started in mountain biking when my dad lost his licence for drink driving and he got a bike… he got bored of it and it was nice kit, so I just started going out on it and it was ace” he said.

Ever since then, mountain biking has played a huge role in Ed’s life and while he may be enjoying a successful business within the industry at the moment, this is actually his first mountain bike related job.

Not a man to shirk a new challenge, Ed has turned his hand to almost everything imaginable. His CV boasts unusual careers, including stints as a Didgeridoo teacher and a 13 year career as a masseuse – not your average mountain biker at all – but now he feels he has found his niche.

“It wasn’t until 2008 that I knew what I wanted to do! I was a didgeridoo player doing workshops and I played live, alongside Rolf Harris in the Hebden Bridge picture house“ said Ed. “Finally I’ve found what I want to do at the age of 41, it’s so great and I’m having such a good time with it”.

"Follow me!"
"Follow me!"

The progression from masseuse to mountain bike guide isn’t the most logical in the world, but Ed was determined to try and forge a new career in biking.

“I love riding and I really wanted to work outdoors” he said. This led him to undertake the Scottish Mountain Bike Leader training (SMBLA) to gain some biking qualifications and since then he has continued to follow that trail.

“Through the logged guiding I found lots of people were asking about bike skills so I started to take mini skills sessions with them and I really liked teaching them” he said.

That's the real Great Rock that is. Photo by Benji Haworth.
That's the real Great Rock that is.

Now with his own company, the coming years could prove to be fruitful for Ed and his beard – partly the inspiration behind the Great Rock symbol.

“Great Rock is a local landmark and it looks out across the ‘valley of the righteous’ – which is Calderdale” said Ed. “It looks a bit like a face so I thought if I could get a cartoon version as logo, it would be a good symbol. Chipps from Singletrack suggested combining an Easter Island head with my beard and local rider Jim Leach made the logo up”.

Ed’s beard is well known in local circles and it has now been immortalised in the Company’s logo. “Beards are great, the only problem is I can’t shave it off now because of the logo. They’re good because they keep you warm in the Winter, like merino wear for your face – it does take a few mph off my top speed though”.

Pointing out the lines. Photo by Rob Fisk.
Pointing out the lines. Photo by Rob Fisk.

What’s next for this enterprising man with famous facial hair – “Well for now I want to concentrate on biking” said Ed, but his entrepreneurial side is already in gear. “Next I want to have Great Rock branded beer!”

Ever the opportunist, Ed is the essence of the Only Fools and Horses character Del Boy, and he even quoted his own take on Del Boy’s immortal words – “This time next year – I’ll be a millionaire!”

In early January 2010, the weekend of the 16th and 17th, Ed will be running a weekend of skills sessions with former World Cup Downhill rider and BMX champion Nigel Page at Gisburn forest. Ed’s really looking forward to it and if you would like to attend and learn some new skills, from two extremely talented coaches, you can sign up at www.great-rock.co.uk. But you’ll have to hurry as there are only 12 spaces available.


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