Mike’s Journey, Part Two
In the first part of the interview, we talk about politics, global situation, Covid-19, Tokio 2020 & more. If you haven’t read that yet, make sure to check that out before keep going! Enjoy it.
Well, Mike, coming back to some of the questions I prepared, and we aren’t following. (Both laughing) Honestly, I like the way the interview is going. Talking about life and letting the conversation flowing.
Yes, me to man.
I want to ask you something I believe doesn’t have a clear answer. At least not to me because it’s something really personal. I’m pretty sure there are hundreds of different points of view and if you’ve ridden long enough, you’ve seen how your own point of view changed over the years. What’s BMX? Or at least, what means to you?
BMX, huh? Honestly.... bmx to me is everything! I started racing when I was 11. My dad's friend traded him a bmx and the next day he took me to the race track to see if that was something I'd be into. I remember I was on the track, seeing people riding around and thinking: where was bmx my entire life? And I was just 11, right? I had just found it. That was me! Before that, I played basketball in the winter, baseball in the summer and I liked it. I tried a lot of things as a kid but, I didn't like team sport because it is so competitive. It's just, I don't know... not for me. Then from 11 years old, I started riding all the time for around three and a half years. That was really fun until they told me to stop. Stop playing on the track, jumping, and that stuff. They got too strict because our track director quitted, and we got a new track director but, he was a dick. He was stopping us from having fun. It was getting too serious so we start building trails. I was riding all the time. You know, when I was a kid my mom got cancer and home wasn't a good place to be. There was like eating time, shower time, laundry time, and we were a lot of people living in that house so, I used to spend a lot of time at the trails. I used to skateboard to school because I wanted to get back home quickly to get on my bike. I just wanted to ride the trails and the trails weren't close. It was about 3 miles (ca. 5 km), when you're 13 that's a lot, you know? But I always made the best of it. Then I started to get sponsors when I was 15. I started riding for Bully Bikes, they paid for me to travel and traveling my career kind of took off. For my bmx is not much of a thing, it's a feeling. It runs through my blood dude! It's my happiness, it's who I am, it's a huge part of me.
I feel kind of the same. That’s what we want to share with the Trailrecords interviews. That’s why when you said that you aren’t as involved as you used to be. I told you that doesn’t matter, I want to hear from people like you. People whose blood is full of bmx. Bmx is much more than what you’re doing today but, how bmx influenced your life and the person you’ve become and how much it means to that specific person.
Yes, that's why it was so hard dude. It was a big mountain in my head to get over. The accident happened in 2008 and I'm at the top of my game. Filming for Anthem 2 and stuff.I was in a coma for three weeks but, for me, it felt like the next day. The accident happened in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I wake up and I'm in Salt Lake City, Utah. So, I'm like, WTF? I can't remember anything. I think I'm missing a week. For a little while, people had to fill up the spaces for me. It was really hard to get over not only the fact of not being able to ride the same way but, I felt like I wasn't able to show up to someplace and just ride my bike because I always felt like people were expecting to see something from me because of my riding... I don't know. That's what I thought they wanted to see; you know?
I think it must be really hard to come back after a big injury like the one you had if you’re a really well-known rider. Having all the people at the park starting at you, expecting you to do this or that...
Yes, dude! That's how it was and I couldn't even pop a wheelie. So, it was a really big mountain to climb and I couldn't even climb because I couldn't use my right side. However, I went to the trails anyways and I basically ate shit really hard because I was trying to ride just with one side of my body. That was really stupid on me but, I wanted to be back so bad, you know? It was just too early.
Yes, but I get why you did it. Coming from a hard background I know how important something you’re passionate about it can be. When we are kids, we’re developing our brains. The things that make us happy or stressed, can eventually become traumas or strengths once we are adults. It’s normal as an adult going through hard times, trying to get into a mindset that makes you happy & confident, which helps you clear your mind. That place for people like you and me is bmx. I think it’s quite normal that you had the needed to get back as soon as possible.
Exactly, it's just like that. Not only, was it my relief. It was also the way I supported my family with money. It was all my friends. Every little part of me. It was Everything. All of a sudden it was just gone and on top of all that... I mean, this is a side note of a bigger picture. Something else I had to deal with while going through all that.Robbo and pretty much my whole bmx family. Leaves Fit and started Cult. I was like WTF, I hit my head and I wake up in a parallel world? Everything is different... huh. You know, Chase Hawk, Chase Dehart, Dakota. I put them under my wing and brought up, you know? Because they were all my friends and I care a lot about them so, I put them under my wing and brought them up through the range, so to speak. It was heartbreaking, I woke up and look to the bmx world thinking: WTF just happened?
I guess it was devastating, dealing not only with all your mind and body challenges but, dealing with all those changes within your bmx family. I don’t know what happened between Chris and Robbo but, I’m sure it made everything harder for you.
Yes, it was. I know all the story but I don't want to get into it.
No, don’t get into that. We want to talk about you today. My point was, it can be really hard to find the strength to deal with all that shit while you were already fighting to get your body back to normal.
The hard part was, I didn't have my mind. I wasn't able to think about it clearly. It was just confusing. Do you know? But... hmm... actually... It was... I just... hmmm...
Mike takes a second and clears his throat. He’s getting emotional.
Bmx is everything to me dude and not being able to just judge myself because I've been always my worse critic. Just judging myself against myself even though the injury and hopping on a bike and being like; you can't even do this; you can't even do that. Like it's taking a long time to be okay in my own skin again because I had to re-learn everything. So, it's been a whole experience of accepting myself. Who I was and who I am now. Bmx helped me in so many different ways...
That’s a beautiful answer! You have inspired lots of people with your ridding, even today. I have a couple of friends in their early 20s watching your videos before going to ride. Not many riders can say that young riders prefer to watch 12, 13, 14 or even 15-year-old videos to get inspired to ride rather than new ones. You have also inspired lots of people recovering from a tremendous injury. Injuries are a huge part of this sport and a lot of riders quitted after a big crash. How important is to have a good role model, huh? As I said earlier, I remember going through bad times when I broke my back, I used to look at you and said to me; You’ll get over this shit. If he could overcome something much worse you can do this!
That's huge for me. It means more than the things I've done on a bike because it helps people thought life, it gives them something to hold onto. Being good on a bike it's big, you know? But, it's kinda small in the grand scheme of things if you know what I'm saying? It's big been on a bike and having people looking at you and all that but, when it comes down to helping people to overcome their personal challenges, to have something to hold onto, to help them through life. That's more important. That means a lot more to me.
I see your point. It’s a deeper impact on someone’s life. Something that reaches more than just the bmx life of that individual.
What do you think about the IG generation? I have the feeling that lots of riders and I mean riders in general not only pro-riders have the need of showing something. Getting the clip/picture of the day has become something huge for many. Lots of them get injured and the first thing they do is posting on social media, even before answering their friend’s messages... it’s becoming something toxic from my point of view. Kinda living to show on social media.I’ve heard something that I believe can be behind that need to post everything. (A capitalistic lie from my point of view)“If you love something, you have to find the way to make money out of it”.For me that’s bullshit. I believe you have to enjoy life overall and enjoy yourself with the people that are close to you. If you suck at painting, you sing out of tone or you’re terrible playing piano but you love it, do it! Enjoy it and forget about others. Maybe wait until your neighbors aren’t home in the case of the piano (both laughing)The point is, Social media can be a really good tool and bring people together if used correctly but, also can be really toxic used incorrectly. Life is more about having fun than making money.
Yes, I agree. I mean It's about feeding your soul and having a good time, to me is about putting a smile on my face. I haven't always thought this way but my path has led me here. So, that's where I am now. When I was younger, I was really competitive against myself, it was all about winning because I was upset with myself. Since the racing days, you know? If I didn't win, I would tell myself that I sucked. That wasn't because I needed to win but because I had really low self-esteem. I kinda had to rebuild that self-esteem and it's been really hard because I'm 37. When I am at my son's soccer game and I hear all these men my age, talking about all the things they've done and I feel like; dude you haven't done shit.
That’s exactly what I meant. That’s a big problem with this society, we are taught to be super competitive, to show only our highlights, to fight against each other, to be better than somebody else instead of teaching us to be confident, to have good self-esteem, to be emphatic. It’s always a competition and social media is making that even bigger. You see someone else's post or you heard them talking about this or that and you don’t realize those are their highlights. So, all of a sudden you feel like you haven’t done shit because as individuals we tend to be critic with ourselves. Then somebody sees your highlights and now they believe they haven’t done shit. (Both laughing) In the end, we are all feeling the same, and we should share a bit more about that.
Yes man, I like that point of view.
When I was younger, I was so obsessed with being perfect that I remember when broke my back, I was 21. I've never been really good at ridding but, before my accident I was starting to have sponsors and even got paid some trips to contest and so on. I was so picky and so competitive that I never really wanted to show anything unless I thought It was good. That's why now I barely have photos or videos of that time, I was always deleting everything after a week or so because I felt I could do it better. Then one day I'm lying on a hospital bed, my back was broken and I was thinking; WTF! what if you're not able to ride anymore? you've nothing to remember the bmx times. Almost no pictures nor videos. That's when I started to think more about enjoying and sharing in general. Not only highlights. Since I'm back on my bike I posted lots of pictures even when they are shit so, if anything happens, I've loads of pictures to remember the good times.
Exactly man, I really understand what you're saying! I was really, really, really picky with everything I did, what I showed. I did a lot but I was really meticulous in what I was creating. It was like art, you know?
After I crash... Dude, I barely tell people this, I was 25 when I crashed and that year before the dewtour I told my wife I'm washed up, I sucked and it took the accident for me to realize how talented I was, like everything I did and how blessed I was. I am!
Sometimes I think: dude, why does it always take something bad to happen to realize how fortunate we were?
From my personal experience, it's kinda life is trying to teach you a lesson and if you Either learn it or not. When didn't learn it the lesson will come harder and harder until you see it. I get your point, I had situations in my life where I didn't learn the lesson and when the lesson came back harder, I was like; why? why couldn't I see this earlier?
Exactly dude. I've learned a lot. It's over a decade since the accident, on May 5th It'll be 11 years since the accident. I have learned a lot in that time! Jeez, more than anything I had learned before. Just about life, I gained so much wisdom because now I use my brain for what it's actually for instead of breezing through life. Do you know what I mean?
I do, I do. That's why I wanted to do our first interview with you. I think we are in a period when bmx is bigger than ever before and there's a lot of people saying that bmx is dying, bmx is dead.
I think is just changing.
It is changing but is not dead. It's bigger than ever before, transgender people are riding, women are ridding and pushing the scene a lot.
The culture is growing a lot!
Back in the day, it used to be just Nina and...
That's it for now... See you next week for part three!