Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December's Featured Rider: Katie Hayes

Katie Hayes hit the Freeride Foundation radar with a promo video she released earlier this summer. I met her at the Slope Sistair event in Grand Junction, CO in August. The first thing I saw her do was tabletop a firepit gap jump at The Ranch, with the smooth style and confidence we don't see often enough from women freeriders. She went on to prove that she has the skill and the eye to put together a tough, but flowing slopestyle run that included drops, jumps, and wall-rides. Katie not only puts together sweet runs on her bike, but she literally builds the trails she trains on. The girl is young and smart, and we can't wait to see her progress over the next few years.--FF

Name: Katie Hayes
Home: Whitefish, Montana
Age: 22
Favorite type of riding: Fast with lots of airtime. Though I do enjoy going out and kicking my own ass riding tech, rooty stuff!
Why you ride: It is a great way to challenge myself, escape, or just have fun.
Sponsors: Twenty6 Products, Hammer Nutrition
Website: Vimeo videos

I grew up riding and racing cross country. Even then I was more stoked on flying down hills, dropping three feet off of the neighbor’s deck, and trying to launch myself off plywood ramps in the backyard. I’m positive my dad was too nervous to buy me a downhill bike. My fondest memory (and probably the one that solidified dad's decision) resulted in me clothes-lining myself on the side mirror of his truck, getting a fat lip, and losing a tooth. As I entered high school, my interests changed, and my parents decided I needed to prioritize my activities. Soccer became a year-round obligation, I had qualified for the Junior Olympics in Jackson Hole, WY for ski racing, and I decided not to get another mountain bike.

Then I started dating a boy that loves to ride. Three years ago, I got tired of shuttling him for rides and decided I needed a downhill bike. It was a huge skill and confidence booster having someone much more experienced to follow around and learn from. I started helping him build and maintain our local freeride trails. I quickly realized that building the features I would ride makes riding them much more comfortable.

Building is awesome, because it allows me to be creative and express myself artistically on the trail. It sometimes amazes me what we can do with dirt and logs. A couple months ago we had the chance to show the Ride Guide crew the two trails we have put the most work into this summer. It is a huge compliment to hear someone, that travels all over Canada and the US say, “Those were two of the most fun trails I have ridden!” You can watch the episode (#162) in January.

I love that riding provides me with a reason to travel! We started the summer off with a trip to Utah, riding in Moab and near Green River. Whistler became my second home for a week every month and I feel like riding there for so many days in a row improved my skills immensely. After closing weekend there, the trails felt more like my home trails than the ones actually at home. At the end of August I competed in Slope Sistair III. It was great meeting and getting to ride with such a fun and experienced group of girls.

Why do I ride? For many reasons, but mainly because it is fun! I love going out for a day, whether it be to ride or to build, and coming back to the car feeling happy and fulfilled. I enjoy feeling challenged and then succeeding. I have learned that with success also comes failure and of course cuts, bruises, and broken bones. To succeed in this sport you definitely have to decide if you're going to be the one that gets knocked down, gets back up and tries again, or just gives up. I want to help the women’s side of the sport grow and see more girls take an interest in our sport.

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