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Interview with Mike Gul, A Pro Racer for Hyper Bicycles and Dope BMX Products
The following interview was conducted May 10, 1999
BMXtreme: We are here with the Manic, Mike Gul. Obvious question, "Maniac." Self proclaimed? Or was the name given to you.
FastManiac: Given to me
BMXtreme: Is there a history to it? Like a good story? or nothing spectacular to it?
FastManiac: Pretty basic. I'd be riding trails and someone would build something that looked pretty crazy. And of course I would just go up and hit it full on. There were these 32 foot set of doubles right after a rythem at my local track a few years back. And even I was saying no way anyone was going to jump them. Next thing knew, there were all these kids cheering me to do it and some photographers from local newspapers. So low and behold, I just going for it. So everyone just starting calling me the "maniac".
BMXtreme: Pretty cool. 32-foot doubles are no joke. Did your pic get in the paper?
FastManiac: OH yea. Big ol dead sailor!!!! Just dorking it. That's the best way to anyone to do something. Put a camera in front of their face and they'll go for it.
BMXtreme: Right on. Do you still like to go big? Or are injuries holding you back any?
FastManiac: No, I love going big. I try not to think about injuries. Sooner or later you're going to get hurt. It just comes with the territory. But it really depends on my mood. Sometimes all I want to do is go big and learn new tricks, other days all I want is just to stay low and do the full bmx style.
BMXtreme: Are you the type of person who likes to throw in some style during a pro race or is it all business when the gate drops?
FastManiac: Depends on my points!! If i have either low points and I'm going to be making the cut then I'll bust out. Or if I have a lot of points and I'm still in a good mood about it, LOL, I do something for the crowd.
BMXtreme: Do you see BMX changing at all in the new millennium?
FastManiac: I hope so. I see there being more TV coverage, bigger outside sponsors getting into bmx. And I see the ABA and the NBL competing more for riders. And the internet is just blowing up for bmx. Theres more and more web sites totally dedicated to bmx.
BMXtreme: There are a whole lotta BMX web sites out there now. What separates the good ones from the bad ones?
FastManiac: The good ones are the ones that make you want to come back to check their sites. They are always changing or updating their sites.
BMXtreme: Do you think (I know you hope) that outside sponsors like K-mart, Saturn, Speed Stick, etc., will bring more money and more purse money to the events? I'm sure we won't see beer and cigarette companies getting involved like in NASCAR, but there is potential for some big corporations to get in on the action.
FastManiac: Exactly. With big corporations there comes money. And when the money comes you will see even more competition. It's great to see a company like K-Mart getting involved with BMX. they have nothing to do with bmx. But yet their out there and promoting bmx. The ABA and the NBL need to be the ones going out and getting the big corporations to get involved more. Then the pro purses would go up. And they could do more for the amateurs as well. Everyone would be happy.
BMXtreme: Speaking of the ABA and NBL, does each have something over the other? And are you pro-ABA or pro-NBL?
FastManiac: I go both ways LOL! This year the NBL has really stepped up their tracks. But the ABA really knows how to put on a show with the pros. They "hype" everyone up! They both have things going for them and not going for them.
BMXtreme: What are your short and long term goals?
FastManiac: In bmx?
BMXtreme: yes. sorry.
FastManiac: Short term. Just to go out and be the best that I can be. Long term. Stay motivated to do well at the races. And try to make a real impact on the sport.
BMXtreme: When do you think you can reach AA pro again?
FastManiac: As soon as I train for more then a month or two!! I'll go back to AA when I'm really ready this time. That class is so hard and competitive that if your not 100% ready, you get dropped! I already see myself back in that class. Now it's just a matter of time for me to be prepared.
BMXtreme: You had a good weekend at the 1997 Grands which prompted you to turn AA pro in the first place. Can you re-hash that experience for us?
FastManiac: Oh yea. That was a really good race for me. Going into the ABA Grands I had only a $100.00 left to turn me AA. And I knew going in that this was going to be my last A pro race. You could say that I went there on a mission. I won my motos, won the quarter. Blew my start in the semi and came from last to fourth to get qualify for the main. Then when it was main time I was just pumped. So I let it all go for the mains. I won the first main start to finish. The second main I was in fourth and got bumped which sent me to the ground. And in the third and final main I got third. I ended up third overall. If it wasn't for my last place in the second main I would've won overall. That was a great weekend for me. My mom was there which made the race that much better for me.
BMXtreme: That must've been exciting and only a few people on this planet can say they have experienced such a moment. How'd you celebrate?
FastManiac: I didn't really. I knew that I was now AA and that I needed to start working harder if I wanted to compete. So instead of celebrating, I went back to work. But I was and still am stoked about that weekend.
BMXtreme: Cool. How was your experience as AA, and how will your future AA career be different?
FastManiac: My experience with AA wasn't that good. I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. The guys that race in AA are so good. No one knows just how much they dedicate their lives to the sport. And I didn't do that. I was a slacker. I would start to train really hard for a couple of months and start doing good. Then something would happen. I got hurt A LOT last year. When I get back to AA I will be ready! Now I know what it is going to take for me to be able to compete. I'm more motivated then I ever have been. I'm going out and training like I should've last year. It takes time and dedication. And I'm willing to put the time and the effort in so that I can reach my goals.
BMXtreme: Can you tell us about your training? You know, your overall program and why it works?
FastManiac: Pretty basic actually. Right now I'm really focusing on my first straight away power. Sense I'm not as big and as strong as the other AA's that is my main focus. So I'm doing a lot of sprints. I also ride my rollers to keep my spin up. Plyometrics are really good for developing power. And the most important thing is going back and watching videos of myself racing. I try to figure out why on some races I can go really fast and the next race, I just can't go as fast. Even if I'm well rested, I just can't seem to go as fast. It's really good to be able to watch what you are and what your not doing correctly. You just need to figure out what is your weakest part of your racing and make that your focus point. If you can't jump, ride more trails or spend some time at the local track jumping. For me, my weak link is my lack of power. So I'm just dealing with and I WILL over come that!
BMXtreme: Cool. Good advice. What about mental strength? How do you think you fare in that department?
FastManiac: I'm definitely getting better. I'm no where as strong as someone like John Purse or Gary Ellis. But, I'm working on that every day. Everyone has bad days. You just need to be able to deal with it. I read books to help me learn more about being mentally strong.
BMXtreme: Do you find meditation helps? or other types of focusing exercises?
FastManiac: What works for me is playing the race in my head. Like I said, my first straight is my weak link, so I will "see" myself leading going into the first turn. Music also helps me get ready.
BMXtreme: Right on. Is there anything else you'd like to touch on?
FastManiac: Yea, for anyone out there that has problems with their racing (and everyone does) don't be afraid to ask someone for advice or go to a clinic to help you out. There's always something you can work on. No on is superman and wins every single lap that their in.
BMXtreme: Good advice. Thanks for taking the time to chat with BMXtreme.com. Anyone you'd like to thank?
FastManiac: Yea, I would like to thank my parents for always believing in me. My girlfriend Renee for putting up with me. I would like to thank all of my great sponsors; Dope BMX Products, Answer, Atomic, Hyper Bicycles, JNCO, Chris King, Sunn/Ringle, Headlock, Goat Eyewear, Mike Taylor Designs, ODI, and Profile. And thanks Grant for letting me do this interview.
BMXtreme: No problem. Glad to have you aboard the BMXtreme.com virtual team!!
FastManiac: I would also like to send a HUGE thanks out to everyone that has cheered me on when I'm at the races. It's always great to hear everyone cheering when your name is announced!!
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