Launching yourself off a ramp, rotating 360 degrees in midair—not once, not twice, but three times—is something few humans have ever accomplished. If you’re going to try it, it’s probably good to be named Spinner.
As in Mike Spinner. Arguably the best name in BMX, Mike went from being a little-known rider to practically changing the sport overnight with his ridiculous rotations and arsenal of innovative tricks. We caught up with Spinner at the ASA Action Sports Tour in Cincinnati to learn how he got started in BMX and how he pulls off his unique moves.
STACK: You’ve been riding since you were 14. What inspired you to try to ride professionally?
Mike Spinner: My mom passed away when I was 16 from smoking cigarettes, and that made my life just crazy. [She] was the closest person in my life, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. My dad had his own way to deal with it, and then I had my really good friends. All I would do, from [when I was] 16 to 17, I rode my bike six to seven hours a day for two years straight. I made it one time to Camp Woodward, which is in Pennsylvania. I used to ride these little ramps all the time; [then] after a week I got to ride these huge ramps, and I literally started doing tricks no one else could do. I was just having a good time riding with the best people in the world, and that’s what kind of made me who I am now.
STACK: What’s your mindset when you’re in a competition?
MS: I’m actually really relaxed. Why get hyped up? This is what I do every day. I do these tricks every single day at the warehouse that we train at. I ride at Dave Mirra’s warehouse. I ride for his company, Mirraco Bike Co. I do my hardest tricks every day. When I’m doing those tricks [in a competition], it’s still scary, [but] . . . I’m just really relaxed. When I watch it on video, I’m like, “Man, it’s going so fast.” When I’m riding, everything is like slow motion. You know when you fall down or something, and you’re like, “Oh, here it comes.” It’s just like that.
STACK: How do you come up with new tricks?
MS: I practice tricks insanely. I’m very critical on myself. We have the foam pits, the resi’s [ramps with padding underneath], and the real ramps. I am the first person to do a 1080. There are steps in everything. If I can see it in my mind, it’s possible. I do it in the foam over and over. I’ve done a bunch of tricks, but the 1080—no one’s ever done that revolution three times on a bicycle. I just thought about it for months and months. Then I’m like, “All right, I’m going to try it in the foam pit.” The 1080 was the hardest trick ever, but at the same time really easy because it’s all motion, its not muscle. It’s all technique. It took me about a year to do it in the foam pit. A week later I had a competition in New Zealand. Went for it, pulled it and was the first person ever to do a 1080.
STACK: After contest or practice sessions, do you ever look at the mistakes you made and try to fix them?
MS: Oh, sure. After a contest especially. If I’m working on a new trick, my friend, Austin Coleman, he and I will videotape each other. When you watch yourself, you get to see it even better. I love watching myself after a contest to perfect myself. I’m real critical after a contest. When I see it, I’m like, “Man, I could have done this better.” If you think you’re the best, you are not going to go any higher. But if you are always going to criticize yourself in anything you do, you are going to get better.