In the world of mountain biking, Martin Söderström is synonymous with style, taking known tricks and adding a distinctive personal stamp. So much so, you will always recognize him, even when he’s inverted off a gigantic kicker in the middle of a competition.
Style like a royal seal.
But what it takes to get there and how hard it is to achieve is often difficult to comprehend.
Dig a bit deeper, and one thing stands out clearly: a constant evolution.
That practice makes perfect is well understood, but it needs to be optimized, and where innovations in bikes, suspension or protection, such as Mips, or dual-density liners, play a critical role.
Most pioneers start young, and it has been much the same story for Martin, who started hanging out with friends on bikes in Uppsala, North of Stockolm, when he was 11. When others stopped, Martin just kept going, progressing day after day, and it was then that POC and Martin joined forces.
We have been lucky to progress together ever since.
A relationship built on the foundations of progress has led to some significant changes in how we see protection, like two young idealists who just wanted to challenge the conventional way of doing things.
The well-known wisdom that doing something for 10.000 hours will lead to perfect responses, where the mind and body no longer have to think about what it needs to do; it will do it all instinctively.
It’s like creating a new sense, and when Martin’s effortless style is displayed, it oozes a simplicity that could only come from hours of dedication.
But a less considered aspect of those 10.000 hours is the perfect days, where each new trick or competition run lands like a cat on four feet.
And there are the bad days; where practising a new idea or perfecting a trick is not quite tuned in.
Those are the days when injuries appear, some of which can be managed simply with some rest and ice, but others can involve your brain, which is far more complex and essential.
It’s the reason why Martin was one of the first riders to wear a POC helmet that featured a Mips brain protection system. Although common today, Martin’s Mips helmet from over a decade ago was about pioneering change in a different way, especially by recognizing that linear and non-linear falls needed to be treated differently.
Like creating a new trick, or adding a signature style, being able to inspire and influence a whole new generation of rider is one of Martin’s driving forces today.
“Biking is such a great activity. Even if you don’t want to compete, it’s the perfect way to spend time with friends or make new ones. The possibilities are almost endless and sharing my experiences with the younger generation of riders is an absolute pleasure and inspires me.
I have been fortunate to work, almost grow up with POC. I may not have appreciated protection as a teenager, certainly not in the same way I do now, but to have been able to ride in innovations, like the first-ever helmets to use Mips, has benefited my career. And it’s something I want all riders to be able to experience. ”Martin Söderström
Recognizing that riding the perfect trail, or dialling in the competition run, can only come from non-stop riding and perfection, it seems evident that the goal should always be to protect riders in any setting.
Martin may not be the young idealist anymore, but he is still the idealist, and riding bikes seems to be as much fun as ever.
Like a natural constant, you may not know it’s him, but you will always recognize him, high in the air.