Abq-Live drops the training wheels and takes a ride with Heart + Soul Racing Team to find out more about spring activities on two wheels.
For people who don’t know much about the sport, what would you tell them to get them to watch or start riding? Downhill mountain biking (or just mountain biking in general) is one of those sports that can be for just about anyone. Whether you’re just looking to relax by the river or scare the pants off yourself, there’s something for everyone when it comes to mountain biking.
What got you into downhill riding? I started riding bicycles and dirt bikes at a young age. My friends and I always enjoyed building sketchy ramps and seeing who could go the farthest. It was inevitable that I found downhill biking. I’m just a 6’3” child at heart.
What keeps you in shape to keep up with the sport? Along with a good diet, the best way to keep in shape is to honestly just ride your damn bike every day. I’ve yet to find a more fun or more exhausting workout than riding my bike around the foothills, BMX track or Bike Park for a few hours.
Who, in your opinion, is the best downhill rider out there? The best downhill rider isn’t always the guy standing on the podium every weekend. It’s the guy (or girl) who handles the ups and downs of racing. It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you handle the result that makes you awesome.
What size bike did you start on? Like everyone, my first bike was your standard “training wheel special” from the local sporting goods store. My first downhill bike, however, was a Jamis Dakar BAM 2.0 that my mom had bought me from Fat Tire Cycles in Albuquerque, NM. We broke and welded that bike every which way until that bike was just done for. I’ll remember that piece of crap until the day I die. I loved that bike!
How old were you when you started racing and what motivated you? I started racing mountain bikes around the age of 18 or so. Sometime during my high school career I gave up the BMX bike for a 26” dirt jumper and my love for the sport began. My first ever “downhill” race was a Super D event in Colorado that some of the older guys dragged me along to. I’ll forever be grateful and stoked that I had such an awesome group of mentors that got me into the sport and were there for me step-by-step.
What do you ride now? My current downhill bike is a Transition Bike Company TR500. My dirt jump/4X bike is a Deity Components Cryptkeeper. I’m still running 26” wheels on my downhill bikes, despite the fact that most people have hopped on the 27.5” bandwagon as of late.
What riders got you stoked and influenced you the most? My friends and teammates get me stoked to ride every time. Whether we’re pinning race laps or sending huge booters, the people I ride with are always there to support and motivate each other to do our absolute best.
Describe the feeling you get mid-air? The feeling of being mid-air is unlike any other. It is what many of us live for. It’s what brings a lot of us back to the bike time and time again. It can be the most relaxing yet exciting, surreal yet vibrant, and terrifying yet awesome experience you will have. The quest to get more and more airtime is never ending. It’s more addicting than heroin.
How much do you ride a day? That all depends on life. Work and everything else going on in your life seem to have this negative effect on the amount of saddle time you get but always know that the time will come to ride. Whether I’m able to ride every single day in a month or only a few times, I love each ride more than the last and look forward to it each and every time.
What’s the number 1 rule of downhill riding? The number 1 rule of downhill mountain biking is to know how to push your limits. So many people get broken by trying to go too fast, too soon. Knowing how to safely push your limits, while still progressing is a formula that many (including myself) struggle with figuring out.
What has been your proudest moment? My proudest moments in downhill would have to be helping get others into the sport. I love downhill with my entire being and if I can get just one other person to love the sport as much as I do, I’d call that a success. I won national champs for my age group one time too, that was pretty cool.
What do you do in your down time when you’re not practicing? I love anything outside. During the summer, my activities are mostly bicycle-oriented but during the winter I love to snowboard. Having an equally exciting yet different sport is important, not only for cross-training but also to keep things fresh and fun all year long.
Your worst wreck? I’ve had a few bad crashes in my day but most recently was an incident involving a full moon, an icy ski hill, and a broken full-face helmet. Need I say more?
3 songs that you would find in your riding playlist? I listen to a lot of upbeat and fun music when I ride. Slayer is awesome, but sometimes that stuff gets me “too” pumped up and I can’t concentrate. Music that keeps things fun and exciting yet still relaxing is the key for me. The right music can often make the difference.
Favorite place to ride? I’ve had the opportunity to ride my bike all over the world, but one of the strangest places I’ve ever ridden was in Seattle, WA. There’s a bike park built under the freeway to keep it out of the rain. It is definitely an interesting spot to ride. My favorite place on Earth to ride my mountain bike would be up at Angel Fire Bike Park. I’ve been riding and helping up there since I can remember and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Any pre-competition rituals? Before a race, I’ll usually just listen to some music and try not to get too nervous. I’ve been racing for a long time, but the nerves are inevitable. It’s all about who handles those nerves the best.
Is it true you never forget how to ride a bike? I forget how to ride a bike the second I realize I’m crashing.
What is your favorite type of riding? The fast kind.
Describe the feeling you get mid-air. “Oh Shit.”
What has been your proudest moment? Becoming part of the Heart+Soul crew.
3 songs that you would find in your riding playlist? Phantogram—Black Out Days, Yeah Yeah Yeahs—Runaway, Feist—How Come You Never Go There
Any pre-competition rituals? Just a slight panic attack on the chair lift.
What’s the number 1 rule of BMX? Keep the rubber on the ground.
Your worst wreck? National state champs 2014, knocked myself out, and had an AC separation, but it’s all good.
Best place to eat after a competition? Slice parlor!
What is your favorite type of riding? I love dirt jumping. Nothing beats flying through the air!
For people who don’t know much about the sport, what would you tell them to intrigue them to watch or start riding? This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many aspects that personally attract me to the sport. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a rush, it’s exciting, intense, and the feeling I get when I’m about to drop for a race run is something I have a hard time putting into words.
Is it true you never forget to ride a bike? Very true… may have to shake off the rust if it has been a while, but I can ride a bike better than I can walk haha.
What riders got you stoked and influenced you the most? My friends and teammates get me pumped about it for sure, we all see each other on a regular basis and there is always talk about the last race, the next race, etc. It’s rad.
Favorite place to ride? Anywhere! but Angel Fire is definitely up there.
What do you do in your down time when you’re not practicing? I’ll either be training, hanging out with my dog, having a beer with the guys, or just doing anything outside. I always try to stay active!
Photography by Kori Kobayashi