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Wade Simmons Interview – Part III

Real Talk with Mr. Simmons

Words by Cam McRae.
May 1st, 2013

We’ll wrap up our Wade Simmons retrospective with part 3 of the long sit down I had with Wade just as nsmb.com was emerging from the womb. He’s even got some advice for me and he dishes his yearly income.

So here it is – the final instalment in all it’s unedited, gritty glory. More talk about riding, force vectors, Italy, money, Mexico and life after the Fro. Enjoy as many screens as you like.

In case you missed the first two - Part I and then Part II


NSMB – Have you seen Digger’s newest Rock?

Wade – The 30 footer – yeah I stood on top of it and just checked it out and the funny thing is you can almost see the line right?

Wade Simmons

A youthful looking Wade sitting down with some Cowboy Coffee for another interview with me in 2007 – after recovering from fracturing his femur. Photo ~ Cam McRae

That’s what I look for….if it’s feasible. I could look at something first glance and go no way – like what are they doing right? But you stand there and kind of get a feel for it – if it’s within your abilities. All the trajectories line up for you – all the variables have to be there. I think it might be doable but there’s alot of factors. The transition and angles – alot of angles involved. That’s the good thing about Jørli because he comes from a snowboarding background. He’s the guy that did Shift.

NSMB – So do you think someone will have done it by the time you get back?

Wade – I don’t know. You know, I’m not worried about it. If someone does that’s great. I’m not into the pissing contest – I ride for myself – truly I don’t ride to be the best on the shore say. I ride because I love riding. I’m just out having fun. What might make me a strong rider is that I have the ability to see things – to take my skills and apply them to a certain problem on the trail. That’s why I step above a lot of the riders.

NSMB – Where do you think that comes from?

Wade – I think it’s from alot of different aspects of riding – being in different situations – knowing how to harness the forces. Just like how street riders or vert riders transfer – like transfer to different ramps and guys’ll say “how did you see that line”.

NSMB – That’s the coolest thing when you see something in a video that no one else thought of. Like you on the big log on the circus where there’s the ramp or the platform to launch off and you just roll down the log nail it in between the 2 stunts.

Wade – Which one is that?

NSMB – The big long log after the lobotomizer.

Wade – Oh yeah.

NSMB – And when NSX III was filmed no one else was doing that line – now that’s how all the good riders do it.

Wade – For me that’s natural. Honestly I hate wheelie drops. I try to air, carry momentum into things. It’s the easiest technique but it’s more mental.

NSMB – You need more speed going in and commit to it earlier.

Wade – Your force vector’ s going more straight across than downwards – gravity’s not pulling so hard on you because you’re moving at a higher velocity so you don’t hit the ground with such a vertical force.

NSMB – So where do you think things are going on the shore?

Wade – I’d like to see more gaps and things like that like the Uvula style stuff. Like natural transitions and transfers – a transfer is like popping out of one transition and landing on another one – not like a straight air – picking it up on the left and throwing it down on the right. I’d like to see more ladder bridges but a little more flowing – not so holey and muddy. Cascading. Have you ever ridden Disneyland? That’s the epitome of a nice flowing trail. No – I shouldn’t say that. There are sections in there that are rooty and rocky – but that also has something to do with the terrain around there – lots of granite outcroppings, old second growth forest pine needle covered.

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Wade spends a lot of time in Europe. Here’s a shot by Markus Greber from Alta Rezia in Italy. Can you guess the year?

NSMB – Were you at the premier of Kranked III in Vancouver?

Wade – Yeah.

NSMB – I didn’t see you there. It was such a zoo. Were you at the one in San Francisco?

Wade – Yeah.

NSMB – I heard Robin Williams was the host.

Wade – No. It was rumoured that he might show up and the band was…who were they? A Reggae band

NSMB – And was it a huge scene?

Wade – No no – not like Vancouver. I’d say maybe a quarter of the people that were in Vancouver.

NSMB – Were you surprised at the turnout in Vancouver?

Wade – No, it always goes off here. It’s like the hometown and there’s such a big population here – lot’s of people come out to these things.

NSMB – I would have thought San Fran would be bigger – It’s a massive place.

Wade – Well… technical mountain biking is not so big down there. They don’t get it yet. I mean there’s a handful that do but the bulk of riders don’t do that stuff. Most of the riders in that region are cross country riders.

NSMB – So what would you be doing if you weren’t a rider?

Wade – I don’t know.

NSMB – What would you like to do.

Wade – I want to do lots of stuff- I’m just getting old fast. I don’t want to do this forever. I want to become fluent in a couple of languages. This whole riding thing is slowing down my life for the kind of things I want to do otherwise. Because it’s a good lifestyle I’ve had a taste of the good life – like Europe 4 times in the last year and a half all paid for. You know I’m living a dream life travelling and riding my bike. But I’d like to go to school – like live abroad somewhere – like Italy would be great. On the Mediterranean.

NSMB – Is that your favourite place to visit when you go over there- Italy?

Wade is still tossing it thirteen years later. And the Wade from 2000 would be amazed at what he’s managed to accomplish. Photo ~ Margus Riga

Wade – I like it there – I just like the feel of Italy. I like the lifestyle – I like capuccinos. Sitting back and BS ing – they’re fantastic people all the Italians I’ve met, they’re just so cool. They want to share everything with you and have fun and hang out. It’s so funny, you don’t meet alot of money to live over there. It’s expensive but once you’re established somewhere and your simple needs are met?

My girlfriend she’s an English major but she takes French as well and she wants to do a double in English and French and we’re going to Mexico in September hopefully for 4 months. We’re going to do Spanish school when we’re down there – you get 2 weeks – and there are a few towns near Mexico city that have pretty cheap schools for Spanish and you can take anywhere from a year course to a 2 week course so we’re going to do something like that when we’re down there. There’s so much to experience and I thing what sold me on it was going to Europe – everybody there speaks at least 2 languages and I’d just feel stupid you know. We’re not stupid it’s just a different way of living.

NSMB – There are so many things to learn and experience.

Wade – A lifetime of achievement – I think Spanish will come easily – I converse here and there with my girlfriend in French.

NSMB – So is 4 months going to make things difficult for you – September to December or do you get some time to do your own stuff.

Wade – Hopefully with my salaries I’m going to save up enough -cause you know living is pretty cheap – like travelling for a month I have to pay rent but I have no expenses. From Roach – they help me out with some salary and with Rocky Mountain I’m getting paid and with Deep Cove Bike shop I’m trying to get something out of them. So you know I’m making not a bad living – I’m probably considered to be living below the poverty line but for my simple needs I have everything. I can go away with that and have a couple thousand in the bank to set myself up for when I get back.

NSMB – you won’t have any filming responsibilities during that time?

Wade- Well hopefully I’ll have everything done by then – plus it’s getting into fall and it’s a great time to film September October but I’ve put the bug in the ear already so It’s not like they’re not forewarned.

NSMB – That’s awesome.

Wade – Yeah I want to do it. We just got a volkswagen, an ’87 volkswagen van so we’re going to drive down and camp. My best mountain biking friend, his folks live in La Paz they just moved down there in Baja – Chaz the owner of the Cove bike shop just bought a place in Puerto Vallarta so we’re going to rendezvous with him for a couple of weeks. My folks and my sister and brother in law are going to come down and we’ll have a family do for a couple of weeks.

NSMB – That sounds great – do you have any filming responsibilities when you get back from Europe?

Wade – I don’t really have any responsibilities – I’m on a contract so like basically the way I get paid is for exposure so I can work as hard as I want through the summer and then if I get ample exposure then I won’t feel guilty for going (to Mexico) because I’ve basically done my job and that’s why Rocky pays me because they want me to promote bikes through photos, through movies.

NSMB – Well hopefully you’ll get something out of this once the site gets going.

Wade – Yeah – you know I’m not making alot of money but we’ve got a photo incentive and things like that. With all my deals I make about 23,000 which isn’t bad plus what I make at the Cove (bike shop).

NSMB – How much do you work there?

Wade – through the winter time I’m there maybe 2 or 3 days a week and in the summer I do a day here and a day there.

NSMB – So you’ve got Roach, Rocky – does anyone else sponsor you?

Wade – I’m getting the Cove to sponsor me as well.

NSMB – What about Marzocchi?

Wade – They sponsor the team – through the team we get stuff so we can’t individually ask them.

NSMB – It seems like they’re getting a pretty good deal out of it.

Wade – They are – it’s in the works.

NSMB – Glad to hear it. When I was away in Italy  life was great but I really missed riding the shore which is when I got this idea for a magazine.

Wade – So what’s it going to be like a website magazine sort of thing?

NSMB – Exactly.

Wade – Think about doing things like – I don’t know if I should tell you about this idea you might capitalize on it- you know how they have those digicams… lipstick cameras? You could feature sections of trail on the website like this week do the steep rock face and the long log ride with Wade Simmons you know.

NSMB – That’s an awesome idea.

Wade – You could have a 3 minute video clip to download and they could watch someone ride a particular trail right? “Do the big gap on the Uvula”

NSMB – That’s a great idea. So you don’t want me to steal it? – I didn’t hear a thing.

Wade – You didn’t hear a thing but the taperecorder did. How fast can you steal that idea right – you gotta get one of those pencil cameras that are worth about 5 g’s.

NSMB – Ideally I’d like to partner up with as many people as possible. Partner up with Digger and have a little clip of his and then click on it and buy his video. One of the things I was thinking when I was dreaming up this magazine in my head – I’d pick up a magazine and there would be one North Shore picture and it was like giving a junky an aspirin. It’s not the right thing and one of the things I was thinking was that I could get exposure for guys like you who are supremely talented and undervalued. That’s the way I see it. Like they said in Bike Magazine – “examples of Art and Artists of the highest order”. That’s what I think completely.

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Wade’s unmistakable style hasn’t aged one bit. Another banger from Markus Greber.

Wade – The company has to get their worth out of it – they have to see how they get their value out of North Shore riding. Like maybe people like Nokia – a phone company – they don’t think it’s their market but it is. “my buddy just nosed it I need a helicopter up here!”

NSMB – So far it seems pretty good – one of my partners went to talk to Ingrid (of Roach products) and she was like “sure what do you want?”

Wade- Ingrid’s very open minded.

NSMB – Without the North Shore where would she be? So are you happy with your set up – it sounds like you’re living pretty good.

Wade – I’m happy. I’m living a good life. I feel the pressure of age getting on and responsibility bearing down but this is the time to have fun. But I have the rest of my life to clear that up. When your young and agile and virulent you know the time to do this is now because I’m never going to feel any better mind soul or body – maybe mind but my body’s definitely going to start to get sorer and stiffer.

NSMB – It’s funny though you can compensate. I’m 34 and I’m riding better than I ever have.

Wade – I’m looking forward to being 40 and riding the gnarly stuff.

NSMB – Well there’s Young Peter. (a North Shore local who dropped the Big Stupid a couple of days after his 60th birthday)

Wade – Yeah – that guys crazy with those bar ends. That’s great – he’s out there ripping it up with his son.

NSMB – And then there’s Ian Moult.

Wade – Ian’s so good. 12 years old and he’s schooling Dan off his stuff.

NSMB – He’s not a big kid either – he’s not physically mature for his age.

Wade – But he’s a mature kid when you talk to him – he’s wise – he’s not just stumbling into it, like he’s thinking about it.

NSMB – So who are some riders around who you admire or like to ride with.

Wade-I ride with a lot of different people – the guys at On Top are fun to ride with. I don’t have a core group that I ride with because I’m so spontaneous when I go out it’s just kind of spontaneously all over the place. I enjoy riding with Ken Maude we’re good friends from way back as well so we always have good times together and Johnny Smoke – I’ve ridden alot with Johnny Smoke and we’ve had some excellent times together and I enjoy riding with Richey (Schley) when we get together because you know we’ve got the history of Kamloops and stuff like that.

NSMB – You must have a blast over in Europe.

Wade – Yeah we do. Richie’s so fun to travel with. Alot of people give Richie a hard time because they think he’s kind of stand offish and stuff but you know he’s a pretty good person, he’s funny as hell.

NSMB – And talented in 2 disciplines. You know I have the impression that he makes a really good living.

Wade – But like you say he’s got 2 disciplines.

NSMB – Someone told me that a couple of years ago he made 70 grand just from mountain biking.

Wade – Probably.

NSMB – Does he just go for it more?

Wade – He’s a business man. The difference between he and I is that I’m more – I just enjoy it because I love getting out there – and he’s like that too but he sees it more as a business. Basically this is life and he’s a contractor and and what he does is he rides bikes and skis. And he’s making a living out of it. This will probably never be my living you know like I’m not going to buy a house being a bike rider but I don’t know what I’m going to do I’m probably going to open a business of some kind but I’m not going to be making a living from riding unless someone steps up and says “look Wade we’ll pay you 45 g’s to ride our stuff” I mean that would be nice but it’s not my goal – my goal isn’t to be a household name mountain bike rider. I just like the lifestyle. I love riding and that’s why I do it because of the thrill I get from it. I just love being out there and doing it. Whereas Richie sees it more as a way of getting ahead financially so as a result -he is more cut throat but he sees it more as a business and he works it as a business.

NSMB – He’s a go getter.

Wade – And I’m lazy – If I was on the ball I’d probably easily be making 10 to $15,000 more but I don’t know why – I’m probably stubborn but I’m just not motivated to do it. People say I’m stupid, especially Richie. He’s always ribbing me and smacking my ass saying “Go out there and do it I told this guy about you go talk to him” And I’m not at that level where I see it as a legitimate lifestyle – well no I see it as a legitimate lifestyle but maybe I don’t see it as a legitimate career.

NSMB – So where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Wade – Italy – living on the beach. I have some ideas – I’d like to open up a place like this (the café du soleil on Commercial Drive) somewhere on the shore – something that’s lacking over there with an open kitchen – I’m not going to spill out my whole plan here.

NSMB – I won’t steal anymore ideas from you.

Wade – I’ve got a couple of people who are interested – I have the knowledge to do a bike shop thing but I’m not into that – I’ve been in bike shops for a long time – I don’t want to make a living by opening a bike shop but I am sure I could make it fly, the knowledge and skills, but that’s not my thing. I thought about touring or doing, like I took a couple of coaching courses last Spring so I could teach biking, teach kids. I’ve got alot of people asking me “Hey Wade you gonna do seminars” so that’s always an option. I don’t want to be chasing for contracts – some people like that but I don’t like that.

wade_margus2013_2

Does this look like a man thinking about retirement? Wade doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. Photo ~ Margus Riga

NSMB – When I see you in a video it doesn’t seem like you should have to. It really seems like – and everybody says the same thing – it really seems like you are head and shoulders above everybody else. You ride one line and it’s clear.

Wade – It’s just convincing the money holders of that.

NSMB – Maybe the guys who hold the purse strings don’t see it, don’t have the same knowledge.

Wade – But as I said earlier I think it’s coming around – I may have missed the boat on it but I’m hoping I don’t.

NSMB – I don’t think so. If you look at the North Shore in the time we were away in Italy it has gone crazy. Just look at the number of cars on Fromme.

Wade – That’s a huge problem. Or you go to Seymour on a – well it’s the whole car shuttle thing – the full suspension technology – ‘I can’t ride my bike up cause it’s too damn heavy gotta drive my car up ‘.

NSMB – What do you think about that? Do you shuttle all the time?

Wade – I’ve got to admit I definitely shuttle up more than I ride up but no I enjoy riding up. Sometimes I feel guilty and then I’ll go for a ride myself, punish myself up the old buck and then go do corkscrew and the Boogieman just to sweat it out.

I remember once it was this kid’s birthday and basically his folks asked me to go riding with him for his birthday and I said sure you know and they paid me a little bit of money for it – you know whatever but I rode up to meet them so I hammered up there and it blew them away you know – It was raining and I ride up and they were like “holy smokes”. I was a little fatigued though to tell you the truth.

NSMB – Well then – this is awesome I’ve got lot’s of stuff and you’ve probably got lots to do and get your ass to bed. Is the opera about over?

Wade – No they get out probably about 11ish about 3 hours. I left my helmet up in the woods today and Ken Maude went up and found it – I’ve got another one but my girlfriends like ” you can’t wear that cracked helmet!”

NSMB – It seems to me that – like why isn’t Giro paying you money.

Wade – I get helmets for free – but I should be getting paid by them – Richie gets paid by them. I just haven’t talked to them about it yet you know. Like Richie works it as a business. He’s always phoning them talking to them letting them know what’s going on right. And they’re like “what’s Wade and Brett up to I never hear from those guys” and I don’t think they want to hear from me – like I feel like I’m a nuisance asking for stuff.

Waiter – Are you guys staying for the poetry slam.

NSMB – No I think we’re going to take off.

Wade – I gotta take off – I’m heading to Europe tomorrow so I gotta go pack.

Waiter – What do you do?

Wade – I’m going bike riding over there for a month. My bike’s already packed. It sounds like fun – I didn’t know this (poetry slam) was going on – we were just sitting here conversing.

Waiter – Well next month we’ll be having it every Monday. Usually it’s just the first and third Monday.

Wade – It sounds like alot of fun – a good laugh probably.

That’s all folks!
The next day Wade got on a plane and headed for Germany.

  • SubPlop

    the guy accomplished something he didn’t even set out to..

    “” my goal isn’t to be a household name mountain bike rider. “”

    Well, you flucked that up. I’d buy a rocky mountain, weird as it sounds, just cause of reading these interviews and seeing what type of rider Rocky Mountain supports. He’s the Godfather, one of them I guess. Funny part when talking ’bout Roach, where would that Lady be without the shore? things that make you go hmm…

  • Carrot Top

    “Wade – Your force vector’ s going more straight across than downwards – gravity’s not pulling so hard on you because you’re moving at a higher velocity so you don’t hit the ground with such a vertical force.”

    How’d you do in high school Physics?

  • Smoke

    One of the few things I miss about living on the Shore is riding with that madman. Ah well… that’s the tradeoff for having thousands of km of virgin singletrack at yer door I guess.

  • nzstormer

    Wade, sounds like you need a business manager. You just show up for the riding, filming, speaking etc and let them take care of the phones calls, scheduling, sponsorship deal making etc. They will take around 20% of whatever extra they make you, but it’s coming out of the extra, so it’s all bonus money.