I Quit My Job To Be A Pro Athlete

In the year 2000, I was a professional athlete. I got paid to ride bike shows on the Vans Warped Tour and I competed at the pro level in trials contests around the country. After a few years, I had to get a real job, where I could sit in front of a computer and stare out the window, dreaming of riding. I was convinced my time as a professional mountain biker was over.

But so much has changed since then.

The definition - or requirements - to becoming a pro athlete are way different these days, and for everyone, I think the easiest way to define it is having some mixture of skills or knowledge and providing inspiration, entertainment or value to a community. This is the job description if you want to make riding bikes a full time job, the only thing that might shift slightly is the ratio of your competitive edge versus your content output.

Ever since I put down my bike and picked up a laptop instead, I dreamed of being a pro mountain biker again. So when I hit 100,000 subscribers on the channel a month ago, I knew that was the sign I needed that it was time to commit to this dream and see if I could make it happen. I quit my corporate job, which means that I am fully committed now. It’s not a genius financial move by any means, especially for someone my age, but I believe that if I put all of my focus and energy into this, I can find a way to make it happen for the second time.

So what’s happened since I quit my job? It’s been a month since I made the leap, and I want to tell you a little bit about everything that has been going on and what you can expect to see on this channel moving forward.

Sea Otter Classic

Conveniently, the first thing that happened after quitting my job was the Sea Otter Classic, easily the biggest mountain bike event in the USA. I always try to make my way to this event every year, and it was perfect timing to go see all of my friends in the bike industry. The weekend started off with a huge moment, my friends at Marin hooked me up with a custom trials bike! This is the same bike that my friend Duncan Shaw rides, and since they were making another bike for him for the season, they decided to make a second one for me to ride. Marin has been helping me out with bikes the past few months, so this was their way of continuing to support my journey. I was so honored to get this bike, and I can’t wait to build it up and ride it in some future videos on this channel.

Let’s just hope that I can ride this bike a fraction as well as Duncan rides it. It was so fun watching him ride this demo at Sea Otter, especially knowing that I was about to be riding the same bike. Although I’ve known Duncan for a long time, and I can ride trials at a decent level, I always love watching shows like this. I guess you have to be a true fan of bike riding to pour this much effort into it, and there is just something special about seeing your favorite riders do their thing in real life. This particular demo was just inspiring for me to watch, and exciting to see how many people truly appreciate the sport that he and I have both dedicated our lives to.

Oh, and if you’re curious, this bike is based on Inspired Skye geometry - so it’ll be a 24” street trials bike. I haven’t ridden a 24” street trials bike for quite some time, but I’m sure I’ll adjust quickly. I’m going to build this up as an absolute dream bike setup, I’ve already got most of the parts here, and once a few more arrive, we’ll put it together.

After the Sea Otter festivities wrapped up, it was time to get back to work. The next thing I needed to handle was closing up the Shred Spot, my warehouse where I have filmed almost every video for the past three years.

The Shred Spot

I originally rented out the space for the Shred Spot as a way to have my own uninterrupted riding and filming spot.

It rains a lot here in Portland, so I figured having an indoor spot would make it easier to make videos regardless of the weather. Not only that, but I could film early in the morning before work, which is exactly what I did. Almost every video on this channel was filmed at 5 o’clock in the morning. I would wake up early, drive here, and then get my filming done before my family woke up. It was the easiest way to stay consistent with my videos, and honestly waking up early to ride wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.

I started Super Rider as a trials-specific tutorial channel, too, so it made a lot of sense to have an indoor spot with boxes like this. For a while, I was just building boxes to match each skill that I wanted to teach, until I eventually had enough obstacles to fill the space. The warehouse was only 1,000 square feet, but we made it work.

Over the three years that I had the Shred Spot, we built all kinds of obstacles and did all kinds of projects. One of my favorite projects was the green screen series, where I painted the boxes green and then put together a few different concepts. We did a livestream one year on Halloween where I dressed like Mario, that was probably one of my favorite days in the warehouse. I also had an annual birthday challenge, where every year I would try to jump my height in inches. I’m 44 now, so here’s a shot of me hitting a 44-inch side hop. I don’t know what I’m going to do for next year, I guess I’ll have to scout out some 45-inch ledges somewhere? Or maybe I’m just off the hook for this challenge for a while?

In any case, I’ve been filming outdoor a lot more over the past year, and especially with more focus on mountain bike videos, it makes sense to take it outside. The warehouse was fun, but the rent was also expensive, so I made the tough decision to not renew the lease when it came up this year. The hardest part was getting it all cleaned out and back to its original condition. It’s amazing to think about all the stuff this warehouse accumulated over the three years that I had it, and everything had to go. Thankfully I managed to find a new home for all the boxes, so they will continue their life with another local trials rider - and I’ll hopefully have a chance to ride them again!

Closing up the warehouse felt like the end of a big chapter in my life, and of this channel, but I know that it will also open the door to more adventures, more outdoor riding, and even better content than before. In hindsight, I’m amazed at what we did over the past three years with this space, and I’m so thankful for the Shred Spot.

After a hectic week of clearing things out, it was time for another step forward. I said that when I hit 100,000 subscribers on this channel that I would quit my job - which I did - but the other thing that comes along with that milestone is a seriously cool silver plaque from YouTube to commemorate the effort!

YouTube Silver Play Button

Normally they send it to you in the mail, with a letter enclosed from the YouTube CEO, which is a super nice touch. But over the course of the past four years since I started this channel, my friend Chris has been working at YouTube. He manages all the big name creators over in the UK, and so it wasn’t too far out of his scope to put up with a phone call from me every month to talk about YouTube. He’s been cheering me on from the start, and so when I hit the 100,000 mark on my channel, I asked him if I could come to his office in London and pick up my Silver Play Button in person.

So that’s exactly what I did. I hopped a flight with my oldest son Teegan and we made our way to London. My friend and fellow YouTuber Tom The Taxi Driver picked us up at Heathrow, and our friends from Shin Dig joined in for the visit. They all wore Super Rider shirts to the office -  these guys are all so awesome and have always been a huge source of encouragement and support for me.

The YouTube office was pretty cool - we didn’t get to film much inside, but we ended up on their rooftop, which overlooks downtown London, for the presentation. It was so special to share this moment with Chris - as well as my friends who are all running their own YouTube channels and well on their way to Silver Play Buttons. It’s been such an incredible journey to get here, and opening this box was an amazing feeling.

The truth is, I wouldn’t be here without you guys. Thank you for subscribing to this channel and watching the videos that I put so much effort into making. I absolutely love making videos and sharing what I know about riding, and having you along for the ride makes all the effort totally worthwhile.

Now What?

So…now what? I quit my job, crossed a big milestone on the channel. Does that make me a professional mountain biker by default?

I think the definition of professional athlete has changed dramatically over the past few years. Of course, the basic definition for being a professional is getting paid to do something, but that’s not really what I’m talking about here. All sorts of riders have been creating content, regardless of their status on the competitive landscape. You haven’t needed to compete to become a professional athlete for quite some time. I’ll use Danny MacAskill as an example. He doesn’t compete, but he inspires us to think creatively and have fun on our bikes. There are a zillion other examples of professional riders who bring value to the world of mountain biking without needing to compete.

And that’s where I come in. I want to bring value to the world of mountain biking by helping riders develop their skills. I don’t believe that bike control is an advanced skill that you learn later in your riding career. I think there are tons of skills that riders can develop that will make them more confident and give them more control on two wheels, and I want to figure out every possible way to share that message through my channel.

I also want to have some fun with this new trials bike, which I hope you’ll stick around to check out.

If you’ve been getting value from the videos I’ve made so far - there are a few ways to support me and the channel. My Substack is basically like a Patreon, where you can become a member and get access to exclusive content there. I send out a weekly newsletter every Monday with my favorite bike videos from the week, which has been coming out for the past 32 weeks and is still going strong. There’s also Super Rider merch and I’ve got a few affiliate links in my description if you need bike parts, but ultimately the most meaningful support is just showing up and watching the videos I put out. That’s all I really need. I’ll keep making bike videos as long as you keep watching them.

Thanks again for being here, for supporting me, and for helping me get this far. Onwards and upwards!

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