My passion for mountain biking started when I was young, but I wasn’t actually able to get into mountain biking until I was about 19-20 years old due to the fact that a really nice downhill mountain bike starts out at about $2,000. I know a lot of you downhillers out there are like damn, that’s pretty cheap for a nice downhill bike. For someone starting out at that time, it was a lot to come up with.
Growing up I was always into racing dirt bikes, two wheels were apart of who I was and there wasn’t much that would change that. For those of you who know me, you know that I am a very competitive person. Buying my first downhill mountain bike also came with the stipulation that I was obviously planning to race. That is just who I am as a person. I sought to build an amazing mountain bike, literally the bike of my dreams. The Canfield Brothers Jedi, a cool side story about the Canfield Brothers is that they originated from my hometown of Layton, UT. Literally starting out of there parents basement they began building some of the best mountain bikes in America, arguably the World. I just had to have one. The brothers were super inviting and supportive of me when I first started out. Helping me with a local discount and even offering support for races as I would eventually rely on them for some race saving help. (First custom Downhill bike I ever built 2013 Canfield Brothers Jedi)
I had finally got my mountain bike complete and of course, winter was upon us here in Utah. Which meant a must do trip to southern Utah to explore the amazing terrain of Virgin, UT. A mountain bike mecca if you will, hosting the event RedBull Rampage. Which if you are a mountain biker or just anyone who enjoys extreme sports is a must watch event. It includes death-defying obstacles and the excitement of watching the best mountain bikers in the world.
A few months had passed and the Utah Gravity Series was about to kick off with its first race being the Sundance Showdown, at the Sundance Ski Resort in Provo, UT. The Sundance Showdown would be my very first mountain bike race, and the nerves were high, I had been training for months. I was super excited to be able to show what I could do on a bike. It is pretty intimidating being in the start gate and having the operator call your number plate. Giving you the countdown from 5..4..3..2..1..GO! Prior to my run, I was lucky enough to have my mentor, Mike Kelley give me a bit of pre-race advice he said “Pick 3 spots on the course, memorize those 3 spots, start the race at 80%, when you hit the first spot kick it up to 90%, once you come to the second spot kick it up to 100%, your third spot will be the finish line. If you start the race at 100% you will be rushing the whole way down and you will make mistakes because you aren’t thinking straight”. Sure enough the ol’ dog was right. I ended up with 1st place in my first ever race. Beating out people who had been racing for years, people who didn’t know me were yelling “Sandbagger” when I was on the podium because they thought I should’ve been in the semi-pro class. This same thing transpired throughout the season. I ended up winning the Utah State Championships my first year racing.
Skipping forward 2 years, I had 2 state titles under my belt and wanted to bump it up to a national level. I was now riding for a bike shop called LakeTown Bicycles out of West Jordan, UT. Riding with some of the best riders in the country such as Cody Kelley, Mitch Ropelato, James Sandmire, Bryce Helbling, and Joey Foresta.
Nationals was at Angelfire, New Mexico. The track was 3 miles and the times to beat would be low 4 minutes. I knew I would be able to be competitive but I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect because this was nationals.. There would literally be hundreds of riders and all of them were gunning for the same 1st place title. I was able to save up enough money to show up to the race a week in advance and get alot of practice in. I ended up coming in 3rd place for nationals which was pretty exciting considering there were 70+ riders in the Semi-pro class that I was racing in. This also helped with my visibility for sponsorship and I was able to land a sponsorship from Pivot Cycles the following season.
I was featured on Pinkbike with photo of the day and runner-up for photo of the year – Photo shot by Steven Lloyd
Various other photos that were shot while riding for Pivot Cycles, All photos were shot by Stephen Graham