Speed, beauty and determination are some of the first words that come to mind when describing 18-year-old BMX racer Mikayln Shaw. Add a heavy dose of true-grit toughness and top-tier talent and you’ve got one of the top competitors in the 17-20 Elite Women's Division. I had the pleasure of catching up with Mikalyn—who is a member of USA BMX and rides for Doublecross Bikes—this fall as she approached the closing races of her last amateur season. Read on as the Bailey, Colorado native reflects on fast tracks and riding with a broken wrist, and dreams big about her future in BMX as she turns pro.
Interview + Photos by Preston Hoffman
StokeLab: What got you started racing in the first place?
Mikalyn: My older brothers were actually into biking. We went to a track one year for one of their birthdays, and I tried riding one of their bikes. It was a lot of fun, and I had just quit dancing, so…that’s when BMX just kind of took over (laughs). I needed something with a little more adrenaline.
What’s going through your head when you're at the starting gate? I try to keep a clear mind and not think about the race, and just go out and do my thing.
What makes for a great track? Any track that’s super fast. In Kentucky there’s a place called Derby City—it’s downhill so it’s really fast which makes it a blast. Nashville has a really fun track that’s downhill, too. If the track is fast, it gives me more confidence to do well, knowing that I can give it all I have. Some tracks just flow better all-around, and are a little smoother, but either way you just have to make the most of it.
How do you adjust to different tracks when you travel so much? I visualize when I need to jump this, or manual that, and which is going to be the fastest line. At Nationals you only get maybe 4-5 laps for practice, so you really have to know the track.
You broke your wrist at the Las Vegas Nationals. How did the injury impact your season? Well, I was in a cast for like six weeks overall. But the race after that I raced in my cast anyway (laughs). It kinda sucked, but at least I was racing. I told myself, ‘I have to race, it’s in Colorado.’ I couldn’t exactly ride how I wanted to—but it was still fun. To me, it [the injury] just motivates me more and makes me want to come back even stronger. There are definitely some downfalls and hard days of course, but I just focus on not letting that bring me down.
What’s coming up next? Well I’m turning pro next year, so that’ll be a huge change. You don’t get to race as many Nationals because there are only Pro Series races, and females only race in the Elite Pro Series, where as the guys race in two different classes like A Pro and AA Pro.
Who do you look up to for motivation? My favorite rider is probably Caroline Buchanan, she rides for DK.
Is there one goal that you would ultimately like to achieve in BMX? I would like to shoot for the 2020 Olympics, which would be pretty awesome. It’s something that I have always dreamed of, so it helps me keep motivated.
Colorado for life, or are you open to living somewhere else? I would like to live [in a place] where it’s a bit warmer, so I could ride all year long, but Colorado is pretty solid (laughs)….