Mikayla chats to us en route to the Final World Cup in Val Di Sole!
We caught up with Mikayla as she travels to the final World Cup in Val Di Sole, after incredible scenes at the World Champs in Les Gets. We chatted to her about her home town, riding with a septuagenarian local legend recently and what's next!
You famously didn’t get into mountain biking until you were 18? What encouraged you to start?
I’ve always been into skiing and other sports growing up, so the drive for adrenaline and adventure sports was there but didn’t discover my love for bikes until much later. My brother started riding mountain bikes and that encouraged me to have a go. It didn’t take me long before it became the hobby I wanted to do with all my spare time!
Having such amazing opportunities for adventure on your doorstep must be pretty cool. What's your favourite Lochaber adventure?
The accessibility to outdoor sports in Lochaber is incredible. Climbing, biking, skiing, sailing.. anything! When I worked at Nevis Range as a ski instructor I would sometimes cycle into work, get some ski laps in after work then maybe ride some trails on my way home. I think that is pretty special!
What is your favourite place in Scotland to ride, away from Lochaber?
Ohhh there are so many! At the moment I think I would have to say Aberfeldy on a dry and dusty day, or Pitlochry, there are some incredible trails getting built over at Glassie bike park!
What in your opinion, apart from Scotland, is your favourite place to ride in the world? You have raced in some pretty cool places!
I’ve been very lucky to ride in so many amazing places! I really enjoyed Maribor in Slovenia when I went there. The World Cup track is so much fun, it has a bit of everything. Jumps, bike park, technical sections. There is also some sweet loamy secret tracks off the side which we had loads of fun lapping.
You must meet some incredible people on your travels. Has there been a time when you found yourself pretty starstruck?
Haha yeh, coming into this sport to world level from being a beginner not many years before, it was quite surreal to turn up to my first World Cup in 2019 and be racing with the girls I still look up to now. I’ll always look up to Rachel and Tahnee, they are both incredible athletes from the uk and respect everything they have done in their careers so far.
In a recent ride at Laggan, you rode with Steve Bradley. A bit of a local legend. Pretty awesome to be shredding hard in your 70's!
Steve is definitely such a legend, he has a huge part to play with the trail building at Laggan along with his dig crew. He puts his heart and soul into keeping those trails good and making new ones for everyone to enjoy. Steve used to race the Isle of Man TT so I don’t think I even need to explain that the man lives for adrenaline, and I think if you’re wired that way… you’ll always be!
What do you think could help more folks ride into retirement?
I think the health benefits of staying fit and active is huge, and the more the subject is spoken about the shown, hopefully more people will choose to start cycling or keep on cycling for as long as they want, there is no age limit!
What would you like to see for Fort William and Lochaber in the next 10 years?
Personally I’d love to see more tracks available to ride on downhill bikes available around the area, maybe somewhere you can uplift in the winter, along those lines. There are so many young kids getting into downhill racing from the area so I think this would really help them progress.
How are you feeling about the 2023 Cycling World Championships?
I’m buzzing! I wasn’t into bikes when the world champs came in 2007 so it’s very exciting to be apart of the event this time. Racing Fort William race day for the first time this year was such an incredible experience so it will be even more special to have world champs in my home town!
If you weren’t riding and racing around the world being awesome, what would you be doing?
Ahh this is such a hard one. At the moment I can’t picture myself doing anything different, racing bikes is all I want to do. BUT, if I had to choose and to be realistic (I don’t have very good grades haha) I’d probably go back and study something to do with nutrition and try go into sports nutrition for athletes. I’m also really into designing my own race kit and get so excited when I do it, so maybe I’d try work for a company designing mountain bike clothing.
What’s next for Mikayla?
I’m currently on route to Val Di Sole World Cup, I’m so excited! It’s pretty weird it’s the last World Cup, the season has gone so fast. After that I’ll head back to Fort William and enjoy some downtime with friends and some laps at Nevis Range before they shut for the winter!
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