What people might already know is that Mike Guth rides his ass off and is going to do something that makes you take notice. That’s what got my attention. After Mike took home the ring at the Philly Street Series I started following him on Instagram. Then after the first stop of the Uncovered Contest Series, I mentioned to BK it would be sick to have him on a GT. Then I mentioned it to the crew and they gave their approval. After a couple of phone calls and a few hours of great conversation later… he was on.
Mike is full of love and respect and he radiates positivity. The way he rides fits in perfect with the crew. They all get fired up when the talk of them all being at a session happens. With all of that, I thought we had made the right decision. Then after the second Uncovered stop where we saw Mike gap the entire park to pegs, I knew we had made the right decision. We are beyond excited to have Mike as a part of the crew. —Ben Ward, GT BMX
Photos by Justin Benthien
Do you want to talk about growing up around the legendary ECD crew and how they influenced you?
Yeah, absolutely. I grew up in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, a small town just north of Bethlehem. I basically started out when I was a young kid just riding my bike around my neighborhood. There were a group of kids a few years older than me that had trails across town at that time, and I was just starting to ride so I would ride across town and watch these kids blast these jumps wondering how the fuck do they do that—I couldn't even bunnyhop at the time. Eventually I really wanted to learn how to jump and I'll never forget the first time I hit one of those jumps. I asked the one kid there Nick Vandine what to do and he said basically just pedal like hell and hang on. So I did and I ended up over shooting the landing by like three feet and smashed my forehead on my handlebars, but the reaction of everybody was great everyone was hyped, and that was the start of it. Nick and Ian Miller started letting me borrow some VHS BMX movies and it was the first time I'd seen ECD 4. It blew me away and I thought "holy fuck these dudes are crazy." To make a long story short, I watched that movie almost every chance I got and just tried to mimic what they were doing. Years went by and the older kids got their driver's licenses and they stopped riding. Me and the younger kids at the time like Dustin Cluwell started our own little crew around town. We started riding more areas and were introduced to Butcher and the other ECD guys. ECD made the biggest impact on the East Coast at the time and it was awesome. It made the biggest impact on my riding still to this date.
What was it like riding with Butcher and filming for his Random videos?
That was one of the greatest times of BMX for me. When I actually met Butcher for the first time, me and some friends drove to Pennskate for a night session. Butcher was there with a few other people all drunk hanging out on the top of the starting ramp chilling like he does [laughs]. But anyway, it was the first time I met Butcher. I remember it like it was yesterday. I did a barspin to feeble on a small flat rail and Butcher was pumped. He asked me if he could film it for a video series that he was working on and it basically started there—that was the few clips I got in Random 2. I started linking up with Butcher all the time to ride street, and we had some crazy as times and next thing you know, Random 3 happened. But in the making of that Butcher introduced me to a lot of people and I could see how a lot of people besides me looked up to him. To be a good friend with Butcher growing up was an honor. I would get nervous when he rode—he scared the shit outta me more than once with his wild crashes. Which I'm sure most people already know from watching him in any videos. Butcher will always have an impact on my life with riding and off the bike. He definitely pushed me to my limits with riding if I did something on a handrail or whatever, he would usually tell me yea that was good, but you could do better and it made me what I am today. I don't get to ride much with Butcher these days, but he has a great family with awesome kids and is a hell of a dad. It still is always a pleasure to go chill with him and his family. The good times never have stopped, we just got a little older.
Did you first get hooked up with Animal through riding with Butcher?
Yeah, Butcher led the way for me through a lot. Butcher took me to what happened to be the last Animal Brooklyn Banks Jams. He introduced me to Ralph [Sinisi], [Bob] Scerbo, Vinnie [Sammon] and a few other people. What a crazy ass jam by the way. Anyway, it was a few trips to New York and Jersey City. After that we were riding the Animal Warehouse and Vinnie asked me if I wanted to be on Skavenger, I was pumped on that. It was right after they had just put out their first DVD, so the hype at the time was unreal in street riding. Shortly after I was linking up with some more of the crew. Scerbo got me some clips in Animal Cuts and started getting some flow from Animal.
You won the Monster Street Series in Philly last year. Can you describe that day a little… what motivated you to ride so hard and what did it feel like to win?
That in general was a crazy day. I work weekends, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – 12 hour days. It's great, I'm off four days a week [laughs]. I worked a half-day, it was in the high 90s that day. Stuck in Philly traffic on I76 I was running late to the jam. Sounds like a great start right? I met up with Ryan Navazio at his place and pedaled to 9th and Poplar DIY to meet up for the jam. I saw some old friends met some new ones. The vibe was great just pedaling around through the hood with hundreds of BMX riders; it was an amazing experience. Usually when I go out to ride, it's my freedom to clear my head of life. It has become more of a stress reliever. It has always been my passion to push myself as hard as I can no matter if I'm riding for ten minutes by myself or for a few hours with a group of friends. When I'm with my friends, I tend to push a little harder because the vibe is already set. When I'm riding alone I might have to hype myself up a little harder, but it's definitely always worth it. I generally don't think into a setup much when it comes to it. If I can do it or not, nothing is impossible—I'm gonna either go for it and hope for the best or I'm not—plain and simple. I was fucking pumped that I won. I really didn't expect to win, I just went to ride and have a good time. But, when Dan Lacey called my name for the ring, I really didn't know what to think besides holy shit! It was an epic day and a great feeling. It was an honor to take home the last ring for sure.
What motivates you to ride on that level in general?
Honestly, it's just how I have always been. If you ask anyone who truly knows me or friends I grew up with, they will probably tell you the same thing. I just always had the mentality to go as hard as I can at things in life—and BMX was what I loved the most, so it was what I pushed myself at the hardest. Growing up was rough for me in a lot of ways. I'm not gonna get too carried away in the details of that, but riding my bike has always been my life. It got me through really dark times, but made a lot of good times from it. If I wasn't for riding BMX, I really don't know where I would be today in life.
To make a long story short and to the point. I stopped riding probably for about four years. I got mixed up with some different people and started getting into hard drugs and I didn't even see it coming. It just came out of nowhere. I stopped riding my bike was in and out of prison. Next thing I knew I burned everyone I knew, had nothing left, couldn't find a job. Shit got fucked up real quick. I went to rehab three times. I just felt like a lost cause and kept going back to the needle and at that point all the people I hung out with were heroin addicts. I was down and out for a while.
My wife was fed up completely. I don't know how she kept me around but she did. We then moved to Arizona, it was a fresh start, somewhere new. My wife was always there for me no matter what and she said why don't you start riding your bike again? And that's when it started again. My bike was my salvation that I cut from my life. I tried everything to get clean and back on focus with life and I just couldn't do it. Once I started riding again, I finally felt at peace with myself. Once I started riding again, I got back on my feet. Life was looking up when my wife got pregnant. She had our daughter, we moved back to Pennsylvania, bought a house and life has never been so good. It just goes to show you what BMX did for me. So I owe it to myself, my family, and BMX to go as hard as I can. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Speaking about going hard, you made quite a name for yourself during the Uncovered contest series after winning the first stop at Charm City, then doing one of the most memorable moves at the second stop at the Wheel Mill, and then you topped it off by winning the Wild Card spot for Battle Of Hastings… Obvious question here, but how does that feel?
Once I found out Van [Homan] and Brian [Kachinsky] were doing a contest series, no matter what the prize was, I wanted to be a part of it. I knew that if two of the most badass dudes in BMX were throwing a contest, you know it was gonna be good, period. To be a part of it was just a reward, let alone winning the top prize to England. I'm really speechless, don't get me wrong, it's in a great way. It's definitely my biggest achievement on my bike and a true blessing and honor to have Van and Brian give me this opportunity. I'm so fucking pumped for this. Words can't describe it really. The feeling of pushing myself, I went so much higher and harder.
Do you want to talk about how you got hurt and had to miss the final Uncovered contest at Four Seasons?
Yeah, I was bummed I couldn't make the last stop. I really didn't know if I was going to make the second stop with work and whatnot. I pushed to get things done to make it to the second stop and so glad that I did. It was a great time. I met some new people. I got to meet Chris Doyle, which was a great experience. He's such an awesome dude and a humble person. His sense of humor is amazing too—he's such an all-around hero. I wish him the best in his recovery. It was a bummer to hear about his recent medical situation, but I'm happy he's getting better. Love you dude.
At the second stop I was looking for a gap. Something different and spur of the moment, and I decided to try the gap-to-pegs. It had a short run up and a long gap. So what the hell… it was my kind of setup. First go I got pretty close. So I thought, fuck it I'm going to go until I get it. And pretty much that's what I was going for my whole finals run. I think it was the second to last crash, I twisted my ankle. It hurt, but I walked it off a little and kept going. I think the adrenaline masked most of the pain. Once I landed the gap to pegs, it felt so awesome and the support from everyone was unreal, but I knew something was wrong. When I drove home that night, it was the longest five hour drive I've ever had. I went to the doctor, and was told I had a fractured fibula. Unfortunately, I was bummed that I couldn't make it to the last stop. But either way, I had such an amazing time at the first two events. I met some really cool people and made some new friends and I couldn't ask for much more than that.
How were you spending your time when you couldn't work or ride?
I spent a lot of time with my daughter and wife. My wife is the biggest supporter of me on my bike. We also bought a house a few months ago, since I didn't have light duty at my job, I was able to finish up all the demolition at my house with an air cast on. I've been putting a lot of time into my new house, and I hope to be in it at the end of June. Even though I fractured my ankle, I was still able to accomplish a lot.
The whole idea behind Uncovered is to give some shine time to up-coming street riders. Which is exactly what happened for you, because you've been killing it low-key for years now. What are your thoughts on Uncovered and the fact that two of the most legendary street riders—Van Homan and Brian Kachinsky—are the ones who are throwing the event?
You really couldn't ask for a better duo of legendary bad-asses to hold an event. Van and Brian nailed this series perfectly, and I think it's only the beginning for them putting on these events. It's amazing how many people came together to sponsor this event and help out. It really gave the East Coast riders a great opportunity for the harsh winter months of the Northeast. Also to see so many people kill it at these events. I had never heard of some of the shredders that competed in the Uncovered events, and they killed it. I think it brought a lot of attention to a lot of riders who might not get a chance to be noticed, and I think that's just part of what Brian and Van were trying to do. From talking to a lot of new people I've met through this series, I wasn't the only person who went not to just compete—I went to have a good time, make new memories, share experiences with new people, interact with pros, and get their point of views on riding and life in general. Brian and Van wanted to bring a big family together, and they definitely succeeded. For that, I can't thank them both enough for all they have done for me and the BMX Community.
What did it feel like to be chosen to Battle of Hastings via Uncovered?
It was crazy since I wasn't at the last event. I didn't find out until after. I was honestly surprised when I found out. I was at home and had just finished washing the dishes and feeding my daughter. I had literally just finished, and I saw that BK was trying to FaceTime me. He and Van told me that I was going to England. My first thought was, HOLY FUCK, REALLY? It blew my mind. I was so excited I was shaking with adrenaline like I'd just competed. But the overall feeling of being chosen for the biggest pro event in BMX by two of your favorite riders, that I'd watched my whole life, is truly priceless and such a great honor. Overall, the people I competed against completely killed it. Yeah I'm still trying to find the feeling and words to fit the description.
Are you already plotting moves for the skatepark?
[Laughs] I thought about a few ideas a while ago hoping that one day I would make it over there. But for the most part, I usually don't really plan ahead. I'm more of a show up and see what happens person or what setup I'm feeling the most then brainstorm for a minute.
Is this your first international trip for BMX?
Yes, first international trip for BMX and my first trip overseas, as well, so that has me even more pumped.
You also got picked up by GT recently—joining the ranks with the likes of fellow east coast street riders Dan Conway, Jeff Ludwig, Jeff Purdy, and BK (currently). What are thoughts about getting support from one of the most established brands in BMX—and with such a sick squad, no less?
Such a bad-ass team. I couldn't ask for a better team to be a part of. GT has been around from the beginning and is always progressing along with the riders and product—and their latest DVD, Seriously Fun was amazing. Everyone straight killed it and these guys are all about having great vibes and good times—just look at the name of the video. Plus, they're always good people to be around on or off the bike. I want to thank Ben Ward and BK especially for loving what I do and welcoming me aboard the GT squad. Blessed by the best.
So how long have you been riding the GT Globetrotter frame and how's it feel?
Well, I started riding the Globetrotter frame right after the first stop of the Uncovered series, so about three months. It feels amazing—I really like the geometry of it. BK did a great job on this design. It has a really solid feel to it. It's definitely a frame made to last.
I noticed the two metal pegs and an inward-laced front hub… generally speaking, what are your bike setup preferences?
Yeah, metal pegs are the way to go for me, I like the feel of metal pegs and just the gritty sound of them on a brick ledge or concrete. I feel they slide better on rails too. I tried plastic for a little bit. Too much work riding them—I got sick of breaking sleeves or rotating them. I like riding two pegs because I feel it opens my eyes more to different tricks and I can't do dusters with a third peg. The inward-laced hub is badass RJ Orr laced them up for me when I lived in Arizona. It was more his preference of lacing style, I'm not too picky on that, but it definitely grew on me. It feels stronger of a pattern and the spokes don't come loose as much. I'm not too picky on my setup besides running 175mm cranks, I just feel that size is perfect for me. Handlebar placement is pretty important to me, I run my bars straight up and down. I like to lean forward when I ride because I feel like it keeps me centered pretty good over my front end and since I don't mess with nose manuals much so I run 32mm forks.
What do you do for work?
I'm a welder. I've been welding, fitting and fabricating just as long as I've been on a bicycle. They go hand in hand for me. I'm currently working at Valmont Newark in Hazleton, PA, building metal utility power line poles. I enjoy it. It's the highest paid job I've ever had and I only work three days a week.
How do you balance a full time job with crazy hours, a family, and still find time to ride?
Working three days a week has its advantages. Yeah they're 12-hour days, so I usually don't ride on the weekends. That took some time to get used to. But honestly, I have all week to do whatever needs to be done. My wife is a super mom, she does a lot for me in order for me to live my dream. It gets tough at times, but we're all usually together during the week and always pretty busy. I have a DIY spot five minutes from my house that I've been building up with a few kids, so if I get a little time in the morning or when my daughter is napping, I usually hit that place for an hour. If I want to go to the city or anywhere else, I just need to plan ahead a few days—it usually works out. Then I can hit some people up and roll with it. I'm always on the go, up before the sun, and up when the sun goes down, but I wouldn't have it any other way. In all realness the family always comes first.
What's the story with that DIY skatepark you're always shredding on your Instagram… Didn't you make a 60/40 rail too?
Yeah it's a pretty dope spot. Originally there was a small alleyway next to it. For years there was only a grind box and a small quarter pipe. I guess for a while the Weatherly Borough was a suitable skatepark. That's a whole different story in itself. The police where getting calls about me and some kids all the time—riding streets the schools are on and destroying property, and in a small town, it's pretty obvious who's making noise and who isn't. We told them to give us a skatepark or a place we could do something because what we had wasn't working. They ended up giving us an old hockey rink, and let us build ramps. It's working out pretty good. No one bothers us there. I had the idea for a 60/40 rail. I always liked the 60/40 or 40/60 grind, and where I live there's really no 60/40 rails to ride. I made that setup from some old porch swing material and some scrap metal laying around. It works great—I love it. Can't wait to make some future setups just for fun.
With the new opportunities that you're beginning to get through BMX—from GT to the Uncovered Jam, to BOH… where do you see the next year going for you?
It is a true blessing to have gotten these opportunities. I never really know what's ahead of me. I just try to do my thing and stay true and humble in my life and grateful for everything that I have in life. I would love to work on an edit for GT and I mentioned it to my dude Justin Benthien. He was fully down for it so hopefully this year we can put something together. Some of the GT homies don't live far from me so I definitely plan on chilling with them a lot more and sharing some good times. Possibly maybe a trip besides BOH in September. Van and Brian really inspired me through the Uncovered Series, so I would love to make more stuff to put at the DIY spot by me and throw a jam—maybe this summer or fall. Bring everyone together for a day and do something different in a small town in the PA mountains.
Now that you all about Mike, here's what he rides…
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 180ish give or take
Location: Weatherly, Pennsylvania
Sponsors: GT, Animal, BMXKings
Fork: Animal Street Fork, 26mm offset
Bars: GT Original 4pc, 8.6"
Stem: Shadow Odin
Grips: GT Super Soft
Barends: GT Plastic
Headset: Animal headset
Pedals: GT, plastic
Cranks: Animal Akimbo, 175 mm
Sprocket: Odyssey La Guardia, 25-T
Chain: Animal Hoder
Front Tire: Animal GLH, 2.3"
Front Wheel: GSport Ribcage rim, Animal Javelin hub, Daily Grind hub guard.
Rear Tire: Animal GLH, 2.3"
Rear Wheel: GSport Ribcage rim, Odyssey Anti-gram hub, 9T female axle, Daily Grind metal hub guard
Pegs: Animal Team