We caught up with the owner and director of ZEP Techniques, guru Paul Howard, for a q & a session on all things mountain biking, Whistler, and the evolution of the bike industry.
Because it’s just SO much fun and it takes you back to simple pleasures; being outside, having fun and not thinking about all the other stuff in your life that stresses you out. Every time you ride a bike, it’s like being a kid again, and that feeling is priceless.
It’s the best place in the world to ride a bike and to live. I travel a lot teaching biking and training instructors all over the world and no matter how awesome the places are that I go to, I always miss home. It’s where we (my family and friends) are meant to be.
Most Epic Biking Moment so far:
- Riding with my best mate in North Carolina when we ran a mountain bike school down there.
- Riding with Richie Schley during my first summer in Whistler.
- A 3.5 hour descent in the Swiss Alps with no glasses (I fell at the top and broke them!), cantilever brakes and pouring rain – the feeling when we got safely to the valley bottom was indescribable.
- First time I rode in the Chilcotin.
What Are Your Favourite Bike Trails in Whistler and Why?
Certain sections of Comfortably Numb, Pure Vida, High Society, parts of Lost Lake (that place is underrated), Ride Don’t Slide, Khybers, No Joke, Fantastic, Ninja Cougar-to-Karate Monkey-to-Lower A-line-to middle GLC drop – anything that flows and allows you to be creative on the bike.
What’s Specifically Epic about Riding in Whistler?
We take it for granted here I think sometimes, but simply being able to ride out of your house to the trails or the bike park, is amazing. So many people can’t do that. Plus, there’s just so much terrain. WORCA and all the local trail builders are amazing at what they do, we are super lucky to have such a dialed group of people in this town who both love to ride and to build. We all owe them a lot. I’ve done a lot of trail building in the past, and I know just how much work it is!
How Do You Keep up With the Evolving and Growing Bike Industry?
It gets tougher every year. Luckily, I have some of the best friends and colleagues to ride with. They are always pushing me on my board in the winter and my bike in the summer. The level of riding here is so much higher than most other places, so it’s important to keep the skills sharp. It’s hard though, teaching as much as I do and not being able to get hurt makes for some cautious, slower tendencies, so I have to remind myself every now and then to “turn off”, and just let it run. When I have the time I try and do the local races… in this town, that’s always a good piece of humble pie to get you motivated. That and keeping fit and healthy – good food, rest and some down time (though there’s not much of that these days!)
Who Do You Look up to in the Industry Both Locally and Internationally?
There are just so many nice people in this sport. It sounds cheesy I know, but it’s true from where I’m sitting. Candace Shadley is an amazing person, everything she has done with the Dirt Series and women’s mountain biking is incredible, and she’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Claire Buchar is another one – super talented, hard working and sweeter than a cronut. Darren and Kelli at Endless Biking – we’ve been working with them on a BIG project (details coming soon), and they’ve become good friends. They are super pro and dialed – I wish more operators delivered the quality of lessons those guys do.
What’s Rocking the Bike Scene This Summer?
We’re working on a new size wheel… the 26.75. It’s gonna be huge.
What Would You Say to Someone Just Starting out Biking?
Have fun and be patient. Small steps = easier, safer learning.
What Would You Say to Someone at the Top of Their Game?
Paul Howard: ZEP Techniques
Originally from the UK, Paul Howard began his mountain biking teaching in Australia in 1998. As a skilled and respected instructor, and developer of multiple MTB programs, he has pioneered his experience and knowledge into the industry’s most highly regarded MTB instructor certification courses, the Professional Mountain Bike Instructor (PMBI) Program. Paul still loves to ride, coach and race (when time permits!) and is always keen to help anyone better their riding.
Photo Credits: Tim Hailwood Photography