Mikey Keith won gold in the juniors at the 2010 Xterra World Champs. He’s since slipped slightly off the radar. I caught up with him on his recent summer holiday from Mars Hill College in North Carolina to tell us what’s up.
On school never having been so cool
I’m studying athletic training, which is basically the American version of sports science and biokinetics put together. I got here through the cycling team and my coach Hugh Moran. I emailed him my résumé and he said he had a spot for me and could offer a scholarship based on my cycling skills. He then put me in touch with admissions and it was plain sailing from there. Of course, I was really happy with that; I thought getting a scholarship to ride my bike would be a bit tougher.
On the racing standard
I’ve raced both Xterra and collegiate mountainbiking over here. My opinion is that the courses in South Africa are tougher (from what I’ve done anyway), but the level of competition here is definitely higher. I just watched the Knysna Xterra, however, and we have some seriously fast guys racing. One thing that struck me immediately was how much bigger the fields are in South Africa. The Americans can’t compete with us on numbers or enthusiasm.
On the training facilities
The facilities are pretty good for us, and getting better all the time as we get more recognition from the school. We just finished our second year ranked number one in the country in Division II, and we have a second National Champion title to our name (road in 2011 and cyclocross in 2011/2012 season). Good results mean more of a budget, so the better we do, the better we are looked after. It seems pretty fair to me.
On Xterra World Champs
I really wish I could race at Maui again this year, but due to my shoulder injury (read more about it here), I have had to miss my Xterra season here in the States this year and I’ll probably miss another season next year. My dad and I decided to rather play it safe and let my shoulder heal entirely before I head back onto the circuit.
I’m absolutely itching to get back, so I’ll make up for the initial lack of recent race experience (when I do get back) with bucket loads of enthusiasm.
On singlespeeder dad William
My dad and I built me up a SS for my 21st birthday. I spent my entire holiday at home riding it, nothing else.
On the US of A
Beside the friends I’ve made here, I’ll miss the fact that America is just so massive and vastly different. I love road tripping here and exploring. I’ll miss that and Asheville here in North Carolina. It’s such a hipster city, where everyone is super laidback and rides bikes. It’s also known as The Beer City, due to the sheer amount of awesome microbreweries here… Nothing wrong with that!
Check out Mikey’s blog