THE MIKE MILLER INTERVIEW
The scene in Tadley and Basingstoke is sprouting more talented riders all the time. The styles vary from pegs, no pegs, big bars, little bars, gyros, brakes or no brakes, but we all stick together and keep the scene strong. Whether it’s early morning rides to the local park or late night sessions there are always people out. Mike’s been part of this scene for a long time and I’ve watched him transform from being the little eager-beaver at the local park / trails to a well travelled BMXer with his own signature frame. With the transition being fast it has not effected him in the slightest. I’ve known Mike for quite some time now and even though he wears tight jeans and has a ‘fashionable’ style he is the most creative and individual person I know. He puts a lot of passion into everything that he does, whether it’s from digging trails, drawing pictures or creating robots out of Strongbow boxes. When Mike’s about there is no excuse for missing a party, “A party is a party – we might as well do it properly” I assume it’s his carefree attitude that got him where he is today because he never plans anything out and just goes with the flow, but it always works out and he ends up having a good time. The pictures in this interview will show how Mike rides, but to see how dialled he is on a daily basis is something else.
Here is Mike Miller…
(The following conversation between Mr and Mrs Miller, Hank, Bean Can, Steve Bancroft and Mike took place sat around the Miller Family dining table after a session at the local skatepark)
RIDE: Usual ones to start?
MIKE: My name’s Mike Miller, I’m 18 years old from Tadley.
Why did you decide to get good at riding a bike?
I didn’t really decide, just rode my bike.
You just rode your bike?
Yep, that’s all.
Dad: It’s really because he was crap at football.
Yeah, I was rubbish at football.
Dad: His legs went everywhere, he runs like an egg whisk. He could beat an egg, but that’s it (laughs). Tadley is a small country town in Hampshire, How come it has such a tight and progressive riding scene?
No idea, I guess we just help each other out with the way we ride.
Would you say it’s competitive?
Not at all, it’s completely the opposite; everyone’s real chilled and gets on real good. We just push each other and people get better I guess.
You’ve made quite a name for yourself as a contest rider. You obviously enjoy contests, what is it about them that you like?
I just like riding all the different set-ups really, just riding things that you don’t normally get to ride. Most skateparks usually have such a stock set-up, but contest courses always come up with something new. I ride the contest ‘cause I’m there and just see how I do.
Do you plan your run every time you drop in? Are you like a chess player: thinking ten moves ahead?
Nah, not at all. Usually I’ll have like the first or last thing planned and I just see what happens in between.
And you said you don’t get nervous at all at competitions; you’re not phased by it?
Not at all. I used to when I was much younger, I’m pretty much used to it now.
What have been your best contest results to date?
In 2005 I went to the Worlds in Prague and the Masters in Germany and I got first place in Am street and spine at both events. Four first places in two weeks: that was pretty nuts.
And after that you decided to ride in Pro right?
Yeah, kinda had to.
Otherwise you get shouted at?
Hank: They haven’t had a Worlds since, so technically you’re still double World Champion in Master Class (laughs)?
I’ll take that (laughs)
(Click for larger version)
OK, apart from riding your bikes what do you guys do for a good time in Tadley?
Sometimes we go to parties! (laughs) or we have one here. We just get loose.
Mum: A lot loose! Every day! At mummy and daddy’s house!
Yeah, we’re here every day, in this room, at this table.
Mum: Just look at the state of the table.
Yeah, we get in a bit of a mess most days. (laughs)
Mum: Well, you do other stuff sometimes. Like you guys draw, play Sega and a lot of Guitar Hero.
Dad: Only when the weather’s bad.
OK, so on a normal day, when the weather’s bad, how many people are round the Miller house?
I dunno, 12? Maybe more. It gets pretty hectic.
You have a signature frame coming on on Proper Bikes. Do you want to plug it at all?
Mum: He would do if it had a name.
Yeah, it’s done, but it doesn’t have a name yet.
OK, well let’s make one up. What is your signature frame on Proper called?
Nah, I can’t. It’s like the hardest decision in the world for me. It a simple frame and pretty llight at 4.4lbs. I’m really pleased with how it’s come out.
How did you end up riding for Proper?
I just went and rode at [Carlo’s] ramps one day and he saw me ride and I guess he was a bit psyched, he gave me some wheels and stuff then one day he just asked me to ride for them, I was pretty psyched and it sounded pretty good.
Is it true that you’re gonna build a massive jump box in your garden with any royalty money from your signature frame?
Yeah, well not just a jump box: like a spine mini with a jumpbox on the side.
Mum: He’s stolen half my garden!
Dad: That’s what we bought the place for: the garden.
I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing, but you do have a reputation of being a bit of a jump box warrior (laughs). Well, not just a box warrior, but a reputation for going high. What is it about going high that you like, I’ll probably word that a bit different when I transcribe this. (laughs)
Hank: He is high when he goes high…
I guess I just like going fast. I started riding trails, so jumping’s what I’ve always been into, I just like the feeling of going high.
You go significantly higher than most other riders. Do you think you could try and explain a little bit about how you do it? Like how do you go high on your bike?
Just crank fast and pump hard I guess.
Well, everyone can pedal, so say we’re all going into a box the same speed, what do you do that make you go four foot higher than other people? Erm, no idea. If I could explain it I’d tell everyone, but I have no idea.
Do you pull up particularly hard or something? Come on, the kids want an answer for this one.
It’s just practise. Going fast, riding lots of different transitions. It’s all judgement I guess, just learning how fast you need to go and how much you need to pump and pull up. That’s a tough one.
I think you should call some stuff out, Mike. You have a few events coming up like NASS, Ze Masters and Rebel Jam. You’re obviously going to enter all of those, so call one out. Like, how are you going to place at NASS next weekend?
(laughs) Probably first.
Are you going to qualify for the finals at the Masters?
Dunno, just gotta see what the course it like, see what’s going on.
If you had a good run and thought you’d qualify easily, but the judges thought different, would your Mum have to hold you back from attacking the judges? (laughs)
I don’t really care where I place. I’m more concerned with how I rode, like, if I rode as good as I could, and I felt I rode better than some people who qualified, I’d be a bit pissed, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world and I only go for the after-parties anyway. (laughs)
If there’s a big party on the Saturday night and the finals are on Sunday. Will you hold back on the sauce?
Not at all. I’d probably drink more as I’d be psyched to make the finals.
Dad: How long does it take to put your make-up on in the morning? (laughs) How long does it take you to get ready?
Not that long.
Dad: Four hours the other day! This is no joke, he’ll spend three hours doing his hair then put a hat on then spend another two hours making sure it’s poking out from under the hat right. His Mum cuts his hair and he has a pair of hair straighteners and he takes four hours getting ready to go to the skatepark.
You’re exaggerating now.
Mum: You know we’re not Mike. (laughs)
Does being good at riding your bike get you girls?
Mum: The whole of France Myspace him all the time.
It’s weird. (embarrassed laugh) I don’t really like it.
Mum: How many girls have wanted to take you home?
Mum: Quite a few. There’s a Mike Miller fan club on Myspace.
(The conversation wanders into random stories of girls at contests for five minutes before being brought to an abrupt halt by his Dad.)
Dad: So anyway Mike: How long does it take to do your make-up in the morning.
Ahw… jogg-on Dad.
Bean Can: How did you learn 180s?
(laughs, then in an embarrassed tone) We built a leaf pit.
We spent three days digging a four-foot deep hole, filled it with leaves and built a one-foot high transition. Then I learnt 180s into it.
How long ago was that?
Six years ago, I was three feet tall with a 21 inch DK 6 Pack with a 16 inch back end. It was bizarre.
Seems to have worked though.
I guess so.
These days there is a whole load of people riding quite slowly with four pegs and a very technical style. This type of riding is the polar opposite of yours, what do you make of it?
It’s amazing to watch. I love watching tech street riders, I’m not any good at that sort of stuff, so I’m even more amazed by it, it’s so good, people like Edwin are just ridiculously good. I love watching those guys ride, especially the new school street riders like Eddie Cleveland, Chase DeHart, Dakota Roche and people like that. I really respect the way they ride.
Hank: When are you going to learn to drive so I don’t have to give you lifts everywhere?
Mum: When he gets some contact lenses.
Dad: He’s too blind to drive.
Mum: Mike’s so blind he can’t see the girls on the other side of the bar.
Dad: He has to ask these lot (TTL) “Is that girl fit over there?” He can just see an outline with blond hair or something.
Yeah, I’m pretty blind. I don’t think I’d be allowed to drive.
Hank: How are your parents towards your riding? They’re so into it!
All right, let’s start wrapping this up. Anything anyone wants to add.
Dad: He’s fussy.
Hank: He’s good at drawing and designing.
Mum: He’s amazing at Photoshop.
Dad: He’s fussy. (laughs)
Bean Can: When was the last time you had credit on your phone?
I nearly bought some the other day, but I guess I haven’t had credit for over two years now.
Bean Can: You gotta mention Strongbow. There’s a rumour going round that you’re the Strongbow Master – how do you think your Dad feels about that?
Dad: I don’t think he is!
Bean Can: (About Mike’s Dad) He hasn’t had a drink of water in over 30 years. (laughs)
OK, let’s finish up. Any plans Mike? For riding or otherwise?
Basically just travel as much as I can. Try to get to as many places I can, meet new people on the way and have fun. I just want to travel around riding my bike and see how long I can go with out having to work.
Yeah of course. My parents, Carlo Griggs. Hank, Bean Can, Adam, Rob, Luke, Scotty Doom, Robin and the rest of the TTL. Andy Ziess, DJ, Bart De Jong, Chris Woodage, anyone who’s given me a lift or a place to crash, Mark Webb, Ben Wallace, my Granddad for giving me money, Dan Mageree, Surridge for being the man, Jamie Cameron, all the Proper Team, Ali G, Napoleon Dynamite and Tetley tea bags.