While wandering around Eurobike last year I found myself being introduced to Sam Pilgrim, YouTube personality and former Freeride Mountain Biking (FMB) World Champion. As you do if you’re a bike journo meeting someone (fairly?) famous, I sat him down for a quick interview. It was all going OK, until he said ‘I don’t ride with girls, I never would they’re too slow’.
Frankly, I was too shocked to think of any other questions. I wanted to stick him on a gravel bike right there and then, and rip his legs off on a long and hilly route. What the what?
Getting back from Eurobike, I wondered what on earth to do with the interview. In fairness to Sam (I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here), there are no women’s categories on the FMB World Tour, so perhaps in his little niche of the sport there weren’t many opportunities to ride with women. The absence of women’s categories isn’t necessarily his fault (though it would be great to see male athletes calling for opportunities for female ones). Maybe he just needed to see a different corner of the world? I didn’t want to make him look like a jerk. Hmm. What to do? What to do?
And then, I wondered. He said he could teach me to do a backflip, if I could ride a roll in. He also said it’s a mind over matter thing: you have to want to do it, to jump, or do tricks. If there’s one thing that’s going to make me want to do something, it’s being told I can’t. He’d never ride with girls? Really? What if I could do the roll in…could he teach me a back flip? If I could learn to back flip, maybe Sam would reconsider his ‘no girls’ stance.
Hmm…maybe I should see what I can do?
In this interview I call myself a ‘wheels on the ground’ rider. I categorically state that I can’t jump. I’ve never been in a foam pit, never done a roll in at a skate park, and I don’t do tricks.
Looking back, that seems a long time ago. A different me entirely. Now?
Now I can jump.
Now, I have spent hours throwing myself into a foam pit. I can roll down a roll in.
Now, I own a BMX and I’m a member of my local indoor skatepark.
Now, I can clear a table top (and I’m not talking about the one my kids have just finished eating off).
Goddammit, I can even do a few teeny tricks.
I wanted it, and I’ve done it. Better still, I love it.
So Sam, if you’re reading this, how about you teach me that back flip? I would offer to take you out on that gravel ride, but, I don’t know…do you think you’d manage?
A Note From Hannah:
This article originally appeared with the video interview, however it is clear that it could be taken out of context of the article, which was never my intention, and I’m sorry if anyone was upset by it – that’s not who I am. We had a fun chat, and following the interview Sam was impressed to see the riding skills of female friends we showed him on Instagram. The point of the article was to highlight how Sam’s comments had spurred me into acquiring some new skills, and to light heartedly suggest that maybe I could take him up on his suggestion that he could teach me to backflip in a day – not to have a go at Sam.