BMX Champ Surprises in Downhill MTB Race

Mike Day's Top 10 finish in a demanding downhill MTB race proves that crossover is possible.
© Tim Korbmacher/Red Bull Content Pool
By Scott Hart

Go on board with Mike Day in the POV video above as he races down the abnormally jagged and steep terrain of the famed Bootleg Canyon outside of Las Vegas.

Rolling down this mountain is like dropping in on a giant triangle-shaped cheese grater -- vertically-sheer with razor-sharp rocks throughout. Few mountains on the planet can match Bootleg's level of gnarl.

Simply riding down the course is burly, but the ability to manage a sixth place finish amongst the pros at the 2014 Nevada State Championships is amazing and only proves Mike's two-wheeled ability transcends BMX…

(Watch the video below to see Mikey's precision on a BMX bike; stick around for the manual at 00:51)

© Justin Kosman/Red Bull Content Pool

We caught up with Mikey after the race to get his take on the mountain bike scene.

Red Bull Bike: Sixth place at Bootleg is a legit result. How many times have you been there or even ridden downhill?

Mike Day: I went to Bootleg for the first time last year. Two days before the race, I got a new GT Fury. I put it together, went out there and raced -- I was in way over my head! And then I pretty much spent the rest of the year on my BMX bike…

Over the past couple months, I have been riding my downhill bike more. I sort of feel like I have to redeem myself for feeling so out of place last year... [pause] that place is fucking gnarly.

I’m getting fast and loose -- and it just feels fun.

Other than the obvious terrain differences of smooth BMX tracks versus rugged DH courses, what has been your biggest learning so far?

I think the biggest thing for me is the fitness. I’m “BMX fit,” but not “mountain bike fit” -- after one minute down the hill, I’m pretty gassed. Racing for three to four minutes? I’ve never done that before in my life.

I find that I get so tired toward the bottom of a DH course that I’ll make mistakes and lose momentum because I’m exhausted, not because I can’t ride the bike that good. It’s getting better now, though, because I’ve addressed it and added more endurance training into my routine.

What other MTB events have your planned for 2014?

I’ll probably do a few national-level races like Sea Otter and the Kamikaze Games. I’m still figuring out my calendar.

To be honest with you, I’m having so much fun on this new bike that I want to hit up as many as I can that fit into my schedule.

That new bike -- the GT Fury -- was introduced last year and immediately won World Cups and then Rampage, tell us more about yours.

First off, it’s a size Large and feels like the first mountain bike that actually fits me. I’ve felt way more comfortable to let off the brake and get a little loose being on a bike that fits me. That’s been really helpful.

It’s sort of refreshing to ride. I’m so familiar and dialed on a 20-inch bike; I’m calculated and know if I change my tire size or make the slightest change in gearing, I can feel it. 

On this bike, it’s kind of refreshing not knowing where it’s going and just kinda let the bike mob -- if that makes sense? I mean, I don’t really know why the rear wheel is dancing around but I’m getting fast and loose -- and it just feels fun.

For more action, follow Mike Day and Red Bull Bike on Twitter.

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