From a young age Ben Woods was lucky enough to find bike riding and has never looked back. Ben always been active whether it be running, riding or any sport that’s been thrown at him. In those early days running cross country for the school gave him experience, and he discovered the need to explore and find adventure. At the time Ben overlooked these things, but they helped shape him and give him the strength, character and the right mentality to be successful in the endurance challenges he has completed with the Ultra6 team.
In his early teens Ben raced Downhill MTB bikes, Cross country, and got in to BMX Street riding when he was 17. He travelled around the UK and ended up traveling around America riding in places like Austin, Texas. Ben has been lucky enough to have ridden alongside some of the best bike riders in the world and he feels lucky to have seen them with his own eyes. He was never the best BMXer but loved the freedom of travel and adventure. Around the same time Ben started playing drums in several bands. One of the bands got really big and they toured the UK playing sold out shows. During this time He got in to road cycling and started to use cycling as a training tool to help him play drums for longer. Being on stage in heat and playing hard for hours on end was taking its toll on him both physically and mentally, and Ben started looking for new ways to overcome my lack of fitness.
Yet again bike riding came to his aid. This went hand in hand with his working life as he is currently the Workshop Manager at All Terrain Cycles in Saltaire, West Yorkshire. Ben has been a professional bike mechanic and bike fitter for over 15 years, and his job is just as much my hobby as it is his career. When he is not fixing bikes and supporting other cyclists he loves to race road bikes, and over the last four years he has had the odd top ten result. Ben says he has always had other aims, goals and ambitions on the bike and racing is just fun for me.
Over the last five years the pieces of the jigsaw have started to come together with the Ultra6 team. All of these skills and experiences have helped Ben to become the endurance athlete he today. He has set three new World Records with the Ultra6 team and raised thousands for charities close to their hearts. The latest World Record was “Race to Space”, on the mighty Mont Ventoux in France, riding 100,000ft of ascent in 4days 16hrs and 13mins. Riding this epic mountain 19.35 times to get them into the stratosphere was no easy task.
We interviewed Ben to find out more:
What is your secret skill or talent?
My secret talent has to be playing drums. Keeping time and playing music was a massive chapter in my life for most of my 20s. Drumming has taught me how to be calm under pressure and focus on me and what I can do when in front of a crowd. It’s also taught me to go with flow as making music is always unpredictable, especially when playing live. So many things can go wrong so easily, but it’s how you recover from your mistakes that make you a great drummer. I’ve used all these things in recent years with the Ultra6 team when being interviewed or when being put under pressure in a race with people watching. Always focus on you and what you’re doing, as that’s the only thing you can control.
Tell us what makes you tick?
I think cycling makes me tick. It’s something that’s always been a part of me and always will be a part of me. I feel lucky to have been involved in bike riding and the bike trade for so long. Not just as a bike mechanic, but as a bike rider. My bike is an extension of my body and ever since I was a kid it gave me the freedom to explore and escape normal life. Being on a bike has always pushed me to my limits; you can always improve and it’s like a never ending story or journey. There’s always a new road, a new trail, or a new mountain to climb. I’m always searching for that perfect ride or road.
What are you known for?
I’m known for being a bike rider, a drummer, a World Record holder and always being happy. I work hard, I play hard, and I always find time to have fun. I think life and challenges are always about having fun and sometimes when you’re training for the next big event you need to step back and remember why you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it for. Above all, always keep smiling and enjoy life.
What things do you do to stay fit and healthy?
I’ve taken up yoga. It’s something I’ve only recently found, but it keeps me strong and flexible. I love how it pushes me in a different way to running, cycling or drumming. In the last year it’s really opened up a new world for me. It’s helped my mind, my recovery and my performance massively, both on and off the bike. I don’t feel as tight or blocked when on the bike and I really feel it’s one of the best things any endurance athlete can do to aid his or her performance. I also really enjoy the meditation side of yoga. I’m still learning, but it’s really helped me relax and focus on my breathing, even when riding or running hard.
I also love to cook, and nutrition seems to go hand in hand with endurance sports. I’m always learning about my diet and what my body needs to fuel my cycling and running. It’s helped me progress massively over the years, for example when having to drop weight or body fat when preparing for an event. I find cooking fun and I always look forward to eating healthily after pushing my body. If there’s one piece of advice I can give for anyone wanting to go harder, faster or further, it’s to focus on your diet. You can make large gains and improve performance by eating as natural as you possibly can.
If you won the lottery what would you do?
If I won the lottery I would look at starting my own cycling team/club. I would look for people who needed a chance to show their talent on the bike, and coaching to help them achieve their goals and dreams. I would love to set up my own cycling track so you could train and cycle in safety, and a club house for all ages to meet and do cycling related things. I’d set up races and generally have a club feel like that of a football team or rugby club. Generally I would like to give back to the local community and inspire more people to take up cycling and living an active lifestyle.
If you could be a super hero who would you be?
I would be Spider-Man any day. He can pretty much do anything he wants, but still has a normal life when he’s not fighting crime.
Who inspires you and why?
My Dad has always been my biggest inspiration. He’s always motivated me and inspired me to do whatever I want to and to live my dreams. Also my team mates, friends and family have always inspired me. They keep me grounded, focused and always motivate me not to quit whatever I’m attempting. They’re always there to offer me advice and support when I need it, and they’re always there no matter whether I win or lose.
Your most embarrassing moment?
I was playing a show in Leeds in front of hundreds of people with my band BWB and the stage was like being at sea. My drum kit was just moving everywhere. Every time my band mates jumped around my kit would move and change position. Towards the middle of our set my drum stool had shifted and I fell off stage. I was horrified, but at the same I was laughing. I got back up and finished the set. Most people didn’t even notice or thought it was all part of the act. I learnt a lot that day, as sometimes you have no control over what’s going on and you have to adapt and do the best you can in the given situation.