Reggie Miller Trailblazers

Reggie Miller: 5 Questions for Trailblazing Cyclists

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By Reggie Miller,
NBA Hall of Fame, Olympian, MTB Racer, CTS Contributing Editor

For my last article of the year, I reached out to 4 highly respected cyclists I admire to ask them 5 unique questions. It’s always interesting to know how champions find their inner drive. What motivates them to continually push the envelope and who helped them along the way to reach these heights? Plus, all these cyclists I admire have traveled the globe on a bike, so it’s cool to learn about their favorite locations in terms of riding, and people they have bumped into along the way.

I want to know how you would answer these questions, too! Copy and paste the block of questions below into the comments and share your personal responses.

  1. When and why did you start cycling?
  2. How has cycling changed your life, both physically and mentally?
  3. Most interesting person you have ever met on a ride?
  4. If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would you ride?
  5. If you could ride with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you choose?

 

Reggie Miller Kate Courtney

Kate Courtney

Mountain Bike
2018 World Champion
2019 World Cup Overall Champion
@kateplusfate

1 – When and why did you start cycling?

The first vivid memory I have of riding a mountain bike was when I was 6 or 7 on the back of a tandem with my dad. We used to ride every so often on Mount Tamalpais, and although the rides all blend together in my memory, the feeling of freedom and connection stuck with me. At the time I had no idea mountain biking was even a competitive sport. To me, competitive cycling was defined by the Tour de France, which happened to be all men and all road. In hindsight, I think that was a gift because I was able to fall in love with simply being out on my bike long before it became a competitive aspiration.

Years later, I was introduced to competitive mountain biking through the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League, one of the first leagues for NICA. I had tried many other sports growing up but had never really felt I could be great at something. When I started racing mountain bikes, I not only reconnected with that feeling of freedom from riding when I was kid – but I also found a home for my competitive spirit.

2 – How has cycling changed your life, both physically and mentally?

A few weeks ago, I went on the annual Appetite Seminar ride on Thanksgiving. It is known as the longest running group ride in the world, and I have been on it for coming up on 14 years now. On that ride, I had a moment to reflect on all that cycling has brought into my life.

For starters, the ride was a great reminder that I still absolutely love what I do and am always happiest when riding my bike. The outlet of cycling has greatly benefited my mental and physical health.

Second, I spent that ride with people I love. My dad, husband, and many friends from growing up racing in the NorCal League were along for that ride. It reminded me how much cycling has contributed to my strong relationship with my parents. I have spent so many hours on the bike with my dad, being supported by my mom in training, and with both of my parents traveling the world to compete.

I also met my husband Will as a Freshman on the Branson High School MTB Team. We still spend much of our time together on two wheels and his partnership is one of the greatest gifts of my life. Many of our closest friends to this day are people we met on racing teams or group rides or simply through a shared love of riding a bike. That community is still growing as I constantly connect with new people from around the world who love this sport.

Finally, I had the chance to connect with some young local riders that day. A nine-year-old girl came up to me at the post ride party at the MTB Hall of Fame, holding a pen for an autograph and asked if she could ask me a question. “What is your biggest accomplishment?” she asked. I pointed up to the rainbow stripes on the building that had been put up in 2018 when I won the World Championships. I could see her eyes light up and the wheels turn in her mind as she thought about whether she could maybe do that someday too.

For me, the competitive side of the sport has allowed me to challenge myself and strive for my best, not just in service of my own race results, but in service of that next generation of little girls who I hope fall in love with the sport just like I did. Whether they choose to ride on the weekends with friends or pursue the sport as a profession, cycling can provide an incredible opportunity to learn about yourself through doing hard things and expanding your perceptions of what might be possible. Oh yeah, and it’s a lot of fun.

3 – Most interesting person you have ever met on a ride?

Obviously YOU, Reggie Miller! I love that cycling is a lifelong sport and attracts so many people with different backgrounds – apparently including legendary basketball superstars! There is no way that we would have met if it weren’t for cycling.

4 – If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would you ride?

I have to say that my favorite place to ride a bike is still in my hometown of Marin County and Mount Tamalpais. There is something so special about returning to the place that you were introduced to the sport and I find it always helps me appreciate how far I have come with this sport.

If you need a more creative answer, though, I would love to go ride in New Zealand because I have never been and it looks pretty darn beautiful!

5 – If you could ride with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you choose?

I’d have to say my Dad – which is great since I get to ride with him pretty often! I feel lucky to have such a strong relationship with him and that we get to spend time together doing something we both love. I also think that your parents shape so much of who you are and learning about your parents helps you appreciate where you came from and understand more about who you are.

Reggie Miller Kyle Strait
Kyle Strait

Freerider
2004 Redbull Rampage Champion
2013 Redbull Rampage Champion
Only rider to compete in every Rampage
@kylestrait

1 – When and why did you start cycling?

I started riding bikes at 3 to just have fun. My first mountain bike race was in 1997 in Big Bear, California. Loved it and pushed to find as many races as I could. I kept making goals for myself and realized at 16 I could make a living riding.

2 – How has cycling changed your life, both physically and mentally?

I’ve been able to travel the world through cycling and make a career out of it. Who knows where I’d be without bikes.

3 – Most interesting person you have ever met on a ride?

Man that’s a tough one. Maybe riding in Whistler. It’s such a destination for riding that people from all walks come to ride. Everyone from extreme sports to actors.

4- If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would you ride?

One of my favorite places is in Northern Idaho, early season.

5 – If you could ride with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you choose?

I would have to pick someone like Steve McQueen. Guy seemed like an ultimate bad dude that was down for anything with a ton of skills at lots of things.

Ceylin Carmen Alvarado
Ceylin Carmen Alvarado

Cyclocross
1x World Champion
2x National Champion
3x European Champion
@ceylinalvarado

1 – When and why did you start cycling?

I started cycling when I was 9 years old. My Dad introduced me to the sport because he was riding his bike himself. I actually kept doing it because of seeing other girls riding.

2 – How has cycling changed your life, both physically and mentally?

It’s had a huge impact. I mean, it’s my job now. Kind of 24/7. I think it made me a stronger person, mentally and physically.

3 – Most interesting person you have ever met on a ride?

I actually don’t know.

4 – If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would you ride?

Everywhere! But more specifically, I would say South Africa.

5 – If you could ride with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you choose?

I would choose Alberto Contador.

Victor Sheldon

Victor Sheldon

Mountain Bike
2022 XC Masters Champion
2022 Endurance Masters Champion
@slasher200

1 – When and why did you start cycling?

I started in 2013. It was about 8 years after my first career as a professional jet ski racer, spanning over 21 years. I needed to find something to compete in, and mountain biking and cyclocross racing fit that void. Once you have the competitive nature, it’s really hard to give it up.

2 – How has cycling changed your life, both physically and mentally?

Great question! I fully embrace the cycling lifestyle. Mentally, it gives me self-satisfaction and physically it gives me confidence. It gives me the adventure I look forward to each week.

3 – Most interesting person you have ever met on a ride?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. The conversation was priceless!

4- If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would you ride?

France or Switzerland.

5 –  If you could ride with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you choose?

I have two. My Dad first (not alive). I choose my Dad, because he never had the opportunity to ride a bike due to challenges from having polio as a kid. Second would be Lance Armstrong. He seems like he would have some fun stories to tell.

And Finally…
It was absolutely fascinating to get a glimpse into the minds of champions with Kate, Kyle, Ceylin, and Victor. I admire each of them, not just for their talents, but also their humbleness to be open and honest. And now, because I am into symmetry in all things, I asked 4 cyclists to answer 5 questions, so I guess I will be the 5th cyclist to answer the 5 questions.

Juli Furtado
Reginald Miller

Wannabe Mountain Bike
2012 Naismith Basketball HOF
2022 NBA 75th Anniversary Team
@reggiemillertnt

1 – When and why did you start cycling?

We all had bikes as kids growing up, but in terms of competitive cycling, it was in 2000 when Tim Commerford, the bassist for the rock group Rage Against The Machine introduced me to mountain biking. At the time I was only going to use it to stay in shape to look good in my suits for TNT.

2 – How has cycling changed your life, both physically and mentally?

Well physically when I played basketball, my playing weight was anywhere from 187 to 195. For basketball I needed a bit more meat on my bones to absorb those cross screens from a 300+ pound Shaquille O’Neal and others. Now that I ride bikes predominantly, I weigh between 178-185, so physically my body has changed. Mentally, the bike will eventually take you to some dark places, especially the longer you ride. I actually love to see how challenging it is to mentally navigate those dark skies.

3 – Most interesting person you have ever met on a ride?

I would have to say the GOAT of mountain biking: Juli Furtado. I met Juli before bumping into her on a dirt trail, I got her two tickets to a Warriors game so she could bring her son. Fast forward a year later or so, I was out on a trail called the Millennium Loop near my house in Calabasas, California. I was going uphill and I saw this unbelievably gifted woman shredding the downhill heading towards me. When we got close enough to make eye contact, she screamed out, “Reggie Miller, I love you!” I was smiling from ear to ear, but also shaking at the same time because I was on the same dirt as ROYALTY. We talked for a bit on the trail and then went our own ways. Best day.

4 – If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would you ride?

This is easy for me: Italy. I would bring my road and mountain bike to make it an adventure. Plus, I know once I’m done riding, I will fill my belly with best authentic pasta and wine!

5 – If you could ride with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you choose?

This is another no brainer for me: my Mom (not alive). Just to hear her voice and laugh. She always made me feel safe and confident. My Mom had the best ghost stories, later I found out she would make most of them up on the fly just to hook us kids to coming back, and I was always the first in line wanting more.

 


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Comments 4

  1. 1. When and why did you start cycling?
    Like everyone else my age, I rode bikes as a kid. My friend Dana and I would cruise through La Habra Heights,challenging ourselves to climb the hills on our Schwinn 10-speeds. I was a distance runner in high school and college, but the pounding eventually put a toll on my knees. I had to find an alternate form of exercise. So in 2013 I really got back “into cycling” when I bought a Trek Madone. I couldn’t believe that I was actually spending $2,000 on a bike!

    2. How has cycling changed your life, both physically and mentally?
    I’m always thinking about riding. Whenever I drive up a new road I think how cool it would be to ride it. Physically, cycling helps keep me strong. Mentally too. I can’t figure out why but there’s something in the DNA of a cyclist that says “thou shalt climb!”

    3. Most interesting person you have ever met on a ride?
    I was mountain biking with some friends on dirt Mulholland one day. It was a hot October afternoon and we see this guy stumble around a yellow gate at the top of Sullivan Ridge. He was fully dressed (long sleeves, long pants) and panting heavily. I offered him a spare bottle of water. He said “that’s OK, I gotta 12-pack of Heinecken in my pack.” It was Conan O’Brien.

    4. If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would you ride?
    European Alps. I’m looking forward to riding some of the classic climbs of the TDF.

    5. If you could ride with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you choose?
    Major Taylor. He was so far ahead of his time! I’d love to hear how he managed to keep his head while surrounded by racism and bigotry. He was the Jackie Robinson of his era!

  2. Reggie is a class act, every time I spend time with Reggie I’m always blow away how down to earth he is. He’s a very kind soul. Thanks for everything you do.

  3. When and why did you start cycling? 1990

    How has cycling changed your life, both physically and mentally? I’m 71 and in the best physical and mental state ever. In 2010 I contracted MRSA and with it came High BP and T2D. I was off the bike for several years because my recovery was so slow, but when I got back into it I stabilized the BP, lost the weight, and turned back the T2D. All my numbers are good to excellent except that I am on BP meds because of Systolic Hypertension (the BP is high when not on the bike). My physician cannot believe how I look and my condition. Cycling led me to a healthier lifestyle, nutrition, etc.

    Most interesting person you have ever met on a ride? Can’t think of anyone.

    If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would you ride? Tuscany or Spain.

    If you could ride with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you choose? Sean Kelly.

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