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ON THE DROPS INTERVIEW: Hamish Paine

We haven’t seen much of Hamish over the past two years… mostly due to him being located down under in Wollongong, Australia.

Having worked in a bicycle store since he was 14 after lying about his age to get a start on the wrenches, Hamish now handles media enquiries with us at Hunt, pieces together our weekly Hunt Journal and is the creator of our On The Drops Interviews.

Hamish doesn’t care too much about the numbers; has never owned a cycling computer; couldn’t tell you his maximum wattage output or what FTP stands for and usually measures if a ride was hard or not if he finds it… hard or not.

Hamish sits down and with some questions prepped by Ollie (Product Communications).

Hamish 6

We aren't lying when we say he is from Down Under...

Name: Hamish Paine

Age: 21

Born and Bred: Wollongong, NSW, Australia (Born), Baguette (Bread).

Ice breaker – describe yourself in three words.

I dont know.

First Bike and Favourite bike? 

First Bike: My first bike was wild. Being the grandson of a panel beater, my first rig was my cousins bike resprayed. All five of us had the same bike but got to choose the colour.

Favorite Bike: the one I’m riding at the time. But if it were to come down to it, my first real bike which was a Giant Anthem. That thing was wild also. I worked in a fish and chip shop over summer when I was 13/14 or something. It was horrible and over 45 degrees in the kitchen every day. I made just enough to buy it but I am pretty sure my dad made me work there for two more shifts just so I had enough to pay for spares if anything broke (which it did).

Finish this sentence: 

Climbing on my bike is… poetry in motion.

Hamish 1

You’re an absolute enigma to all of us in the UK office, and to all who know you. But for those who don’t, tell us about your cycling/sporting early days. How did you become the rider you are today?

I have always ridden a bike. When I first started riding I lived on a huge farm (probably one the size of a small county in England) so there wasn’t much else to do apart from ride my bike around the paddocks. I started to get into ‘real’ riding when I moved to the coast. I was really into my surfing so when there wasn’t waves my mates and I were riding our bikes between breaks combing the coastline looking or up in the bush riding our bikes. I just ended up preferring the mountain biking over the surfing.

You pour your heart & soul into the work you do at Hunt, and it’s plain to see. What makes you tick when you’re not working and/or smashing the trails in Wollongong, NSW? Any secret hobbies?

Really into my knitting actually.

To be honest, I have a tight ‘knit’ of mates up in Wollongong when I am not studying down in Canberra at university. They are a bit of a wild bunch so we always doing something or ‘activities’ as we like to call it. This can range from surfing; jumping off things into water to building dirt jumps.

I am also into artsy stuff. I tried doing English Lit at university but got bored because it was so rigid in what/how we had to study so I dropped it and now read a lot in my spare time. 

Hamish 4

The photo spot on Hamish's Local Trails

For those of us without first-hand experience, name three ways in which cycling culture differs in Aus/NZ than in the UK?

First things first – NZ is not Aus so I can’t comment on the Kiwi way of life. That probably involves rugby and sheep. But three differences in cycling culture in the UK is:

  • More organized/community focused. It seems that clubs are a huge part of cycling in the UK whereas I have never been a part of a cycling club and probably never will.
  • No one rides before 7am in the UK where as it is not unusual for weekday bunch ride to start at 5:30am here.
  • In the UK, people ride in the rain.

I really can go on about the small differences such as Australians seem to be allergic to any frame material other than carbon, café culture seems to be stronger down under and tyres wider than 25mm are found only on Mountain bikes but that’s probably my top three and if really depends on who you are riding with...

If you saw a rider, hypothetically, come to a country other than his own, and head out for a gentle mountain bike ride (perhaps with some work colleagues) and then proceed to disappear into the night after being chased by police for skitching on the back of a car on, lets say, Lewes Road. What might you say to him and how would you assess that sort of behaviour?

Don’t know what you’re talking about here mate…

Well let’s start this off with what may or may not have happened. A particular group of ‘work colleges’ and myself were spinning back into Brighton after enjoying a lovely cycle on the mountain bike trails one balmy summer afternoon. As I was merrily riding along, a car with its rear window down appeared in the corner of my eye. There is only one thing you think of when this happens… hold on to the car window frame. Next thing, the boys in blue have their party lights going and I’ve whipped on up a hill and down a one-way lane then hidden in a hell small hedge…

How do I reflect on such behaviour whether it happened or not? It is reckless and dumb and I will never think/do something of the sort again.

Hamish 5

The gravel riding in Canberra is amazing.

After a stunning win in Grinduro Scotland, followed by a 2nd place at Grinduro California, it’s fair to say that you’re an absolute demon on all things gnar. What’s your take on the gravel scene and it’s recent emergence? Where do you think it’s headed?

I am neither anti or pro it but as with anything I have an opinion about it.

To me I see this new gravel bike thing to draw more parallels to things like surfing rather than cycling. It’s fun and everything about it focuses on good times, but there is nothing particularly athletic about it. It sticks it to the serious aspect of cycling and emphasises a 'lifestyle' approach if you like. I see it as no rider is ever going to be considered a ‘gravel specialist’ but more rather someone who rides on gravel and that is where it ends for me. Perhaps it is exactly what cycling needs?

At the same time, I am not sure if bumbling along a bridle path taking pictures of flowers and mushrooms is really the type of riding I am into. But tell me to go down a fire-road littered with rocks and hairpin corners as fast as you can on a drop-bar bike and things quickly change.

Grinduro combines the best of both worlds and the two I have raced have been the greatest weekends away riding I have ever had hands down. It will probably always be on the fringes of cycling but that is probably where it is best to be – happy in its little hipster utopia.

Hamish 2

What Hamish thinks about Gravel

Thoughts on Cyclocross?

Bloody love it. Haven’t done much of it but sure as hell want to do more.

Best cycling memory?

Box Hill, Surrey.

Dream place to ride?

Box Hill, Surrey (on Zwift).

I love asking about crashes and injuries, even more so when I know you and how many stories of that ilk you possess. Please, for the unenlightened reader, run us through any one of your epic injury scenarios…

This is a long list (sorry mum) but the crash which resulted in the dentist spending two hours digging out my front teeth from my upper lip takes the cake. I now have four mostly fake teeth and can bite straight into ice cream if need be. Causing factor: rock to face.

Hamish 3

We think the comment 'hasn't your arm only just healed?' sums it up.

Follow Hamish on Instagram: @hamishpaine