These days, it sadly seems that it's pretty difficult to find a racer prolifically winning who is a nice person. Someone whom, you know, you'd want to grab a beer with and it's not just absolutely nauseating listening to him or her belt off a long list of accomplishments. Even harder still is finding one with a sense of humor. Yet every once in a while, along comes someone who is well... different. Perhaps someone with a not so aerodynamic beard yet the ability to accrue an alarming number of miles in a fleeting yet punishing time period, and then still make fun of himself once the mess is over. Still curious whom this might be?
Brett Bellchambers rides constantly. He's integrated it completely into his life - riding to work, from work, possibly even around work and work isn't even the bike industry - he's not shamed into it, his passion is real. From close encounters of the animal kind dotting the globe to patching tubes while waiting for laundry to finish up, Brett is a real person. Somebody real you can relate to who has his favorite dad's ride sporting the best single track in the bush. This is the same guy who was just crowned 24 hour Solo Single Speed World Champion yet he still gets frustrated commuting home on his bike dodging the oblivious ambivalence of other cyclists and cars. How many world champs are real people? Well, this one sure is. There is hit you over the head truth and genius simplicity to his responses - humor that comes with a level of honesty and peace with oneself that you just can't find in others.
Enjoy Brett's captivating responses and pics. WTB proudly salutes Brett's accomplishments and revels in his tales. Now, onto the show...
Name: Brett ‘Jeebus’ Bellchambers
Home Shop and City: Mal Adjusted (RIP) and On The Rivet. Canberra ‘The Bush Capital’ Australia.
Favorite WTB or Freedom product:
Recently I’ve been lucky enough to sit on a Volt Saddle and use the Nine Line tyres. The Volt saddle is a Cinderella saddle for me, not to hard and not too soft, perfect for long hours of sitting down and pedaling. For a tyre that looks tiny in a 2.0 the Nine Line sure does offer a lot of confidence in dry hard pack, and that’s all I get to ride around here!
Or, favorite WTB or Freedom related memory (please elaborate):
I bought my first Mountain Bike in 1991 for my 18th birthday. I have great memories of those early days of riding around on WTB saddles and buying WTB tyres with amazing dinosaur’s names. It seems so long ago yet the memories are still so clear. It’s still incredible how many great friends you make riding bikes, MTBs in particular. Maybe the pure act of adventurous rides, getting lost and not knowing your limits bonds people in different ways.
My favorite ride of all time? Well, me and my mate did a bit of bike touring one year in a few different countries. For one month, we free camped next to a river in Winter Park, Colorado, USA and rode those amazing trails all day, every day, I’ve never been so consistently dirty in my whole life. But the best day was when we hired a tandem and rode up and over the Tippery Creek run at around 10,000 feet. It was an 18/16’’ tandem and I was the stoker, as we both agreed it wasn’t safe to have me on the front. Now I’m almost 6’5” so you can imagine how funny that pairing looked. That ride still brings a smile to my face for all different reasons; one of them was me twisting the stoker bars so hard that I could move the seat post and saddle under my mate who was trying to steer at the time.
My favorite local ride is with the Inner North Dads Ride out to Jerrabomberra. It’s 1 hour out the on the road, 2hrs of awesome natural bush single track and then 1 hour home on the road to the family.
Background, how’d you get into riding, what kept you going with it?
I’ve ridden motorbikes off-road with my Dad since I was 4 years old, then as kids we rode BMXs on the single-track near home, then at 18 years I bought my first MTB. I’ve always ridden to school and work. It’s a great way to get ready for work and it’s a great way to forget work and get ready for home. I’ve always had a great group of people to ride with during the week and on weekends no matter where I’ve lived, but as with everything in life it takes effort and time for these things to happen, so sometimes you just have to enjoy riding on your own. I had a few years where I got a bit serious with road racing and burnt myself out. I realized that I just don’t have the “something” that it takes to do cycling as a Pro, but I do love riding my bike and hurting a lot, I just don’t want to do it for a ‘job’.
Tube or Tubeless, why?
When I made the switch to 29er wheels 4 years ago, I also made the switch to tubeless, before then I was a big fan of small wheels and tubes – so you knew it was going to be a confronting year for me. However, 2010 turned out to be one of my best years on a bike. The 29er just made sense for my height and the type of riding I do and tubeless let me get by on some of those silly little mistakes that you make when the rim hits the tyre and with a tube would have made the dreaded ‘snake bite’ marks. I don’t miss patching tubes every weekend down at the laundry mat waiting for my washing to finish either. It hasn’t all been plain sailing with tubeless though, some rims work better than others and some tyres seal better than others. I have been happy that I can seal the Frequency i19 and i23 WTB rims with a track pump. One of my best early days tubeless fails involved putting in 50 psi into a tyre that was leaking slowly through the side walls. I thought I’d put a few more psi in and then leave it to see if that made a difference. At around 65psi the tyre blew off the rim and turned itself inside out, the explosion was that loud that friends of mine who were walking down the street at the time called in around the back to see what ‘that massive explosion was’, expecting to see the shed demolished.
3 most important things to bring with you on a ride?
I have three lucky (superstitious) things that I bring on EVERY ride.
1) Lucky multi-tool – it’s now missing parts and has spare parts held to it with rubber bands, but it has to come on ride and races and I’ve had it for years.
2) Lucky pump – gas pumps are great, but nothing beats a big barrel pump when it all goes wrong.
3) Lucky Stubbie Holder – a neoprene beer cooler that holds a 29er tube, stick patches, tyres leavers and a 29er gas pump, all wedged into a beer cooler, so you only have to reach for one thing and it’s always all together.
Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride?
I commute to work both ways every day, needless to say I see a lot of crazy things from car drivers and fellow bike riders a like. I tend to ride by the ‘no harm, no foul’ mentality, otherwise you’d just be angry on the bike all the time, and I ride a bike to escape those feelings. I find if I don’t open my mouth when I’m commuting that I forget about things quicker. Although last week I copped abuse from a fellow cyclist for drafting off him on the way home on a Friday, into the wind when I was tired.
The things I tend to remember from rides are animals. Rattle Snakes on Mount Tam in Marin, Black Bears in Yosemite and a family of Moose in Oslo Norway. But my favorites are Wombats (google them). Once I chased a wombat at about 30kph on a downhill single-track, he was moving OK for a small hairy mammal and drifting the back legs on the corners. Another time a black wombat pulled into the middle of the MTB bunch on the way home from a night ride, hilarious, I’ve never seen a bunch of people on bikes move so quickly.
Brett Bellchambers meets his match, course side. Beware the Wombat.
Most important lesson to teach the groms?
Watch, listen and learn from the old blokes, they’ve learnt to be smooth and conserve energy (‘cause they don’t have it in abundance anymore) and they have all these tricks that they’ve learnt over the time. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but to try to learn from the answers that you get. Ride because you love to ride, not because you have to. It should be a life time love affair with your best friend. Your bike will always be there, happy to go for a ride, no whatever else may be happening in your life. Always pack a pump and a tube for a ride, don’t rely on others. Don’t worry about taking too much food, bonking is good fun and it’s cheap, it’s good to learn that you can ride 20kms home with no food and on full bonk, good experience for future events as well. Every day is a good day on a bike, it might not seem that way at the time, but if you survive it will be hilarious afterwards.
Left my wallet in… (fill it in):
I’ve never lost my wallet, but my wife has a not so good story to tell about miss-placing my wallet one time. BUT I do tend to lose my wedding ring in really weird places and then find it again! I once lost it XC skiing on a frozen lake, I’d taken a digger as I always do on skis, I took my gloves off and brushed all the snow off my clothes and then flicked my hands to get the snow off them and watched in horror as my ring flew off into the distance and landed in the snow. I stared at that spot in the snow with all my might and walked straight there and found it. Another time I lost it at water theme park, I’d gone down some huge water slide and then a bit later realized that I’d lost my ring, we walked back to the end of the slide and there it was sitting in the water where you got out of the slide, phew. The last time I lost it was in my gloves riding to work. Over winter the commute to work can be around the -5C. One day my hands must have been really cold and ring slipped off into the glove. Later on I realized I’d lost my ring and couldn’t find it anywhere until I rode home and pulled my gloves on and found it wedged in the end.
Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog?
I’ve ridden pedal bikes for 36 of my 40 years and ridden and raced MTBs for 22 of those. Currently I feel very fortunate to be able to represent two MTB brands that have been around since and before I started MTBing, WTB and Race Face. I love that these two brands have survived and are still going strong today.