My Race Rival Speaks: Bill Mickey Q&A

Bill Mickey circa 2014

Bill Mickey is a fierce competitor. He will be setting his sights on the expert singlespeed division this year. It’s time for you to “cat-up” and take him on.

Last season, my main goal was to try and win my sport division in the Ohio Mountain Bike Championship Series.  I trained hard, but one obstacle stood in my way – Bill Mickey.

Damn you Mickey!!!  (Imagine me waving an angry fist in the air)

At the beginning of the season, he blew me away at Mohican Cabins.  I placed 4th and wasn’t anywhere close to catching him.  By the end of the season, I was cruising at breakneck speeds, tire-to-tire with my rival, neither one of us willing to relent, but mishaps like mechanicals and crashes prevented me from ever sealing the deal on a single win over him.

2014 was Bill Mickey’s year.

There were some great benefits to our season-long competition though.  We pushed each other to do better and we developed a mutual respect and friendship.  Bill raced hard and was a class act after each event.  We communicated throughout the season about training, racing and even our love of trying new beers.

It was a pleasure riding in his shadow and I wanted to take some time to highlight Bill here on Quickdirt.  Maybe we can all glean a little bit of wisdom from the stellar season he had.

If you have any questions for Bill, leave them in the comment section.  Also, please share this with any mountain bikers that you think would find this interview interesting on social media.

Sport Masters sprint at Lake Hope State Park in 2014

Super-villian Brian Gonser, arch-rival Bill Mickey, nemesis Chris Knapp and I sprint from the start line at Lake Hope State Park. How did I end up with so many antagonists to battle with?

Quickdirt: Give us some background on you. Name? Age? Hometown? Sponsor? etc.?

My name is Bill Mickey and I am 42 years old.  The past 14 years we have lived in Damascus, Ohio.  I grew up though down in the hills near Steubenville, Ohio.    I am happily married to my wife Lori and we have two children, Austin (16 yrs. old) and Campbell (13 yrs. old).  We’ve been married 18 years.  Did I mention “Happily” because the Lord knows she puts up with a lot from me!!!

The team I ride on is sponsored and supported by Frankford Bicycle Company out of Girard, Ohio.  Pete and the store support us and take care of us.  Really, he treats all of his customers that way.   We are also sponsored by Skratch Labs from a hydration and nutrition standpoint.  I work as a Systems Development Manager in our IT department for a manufacturing company in Streetsboro, Ohio.   I have a lot of responsibility on the job for a team of developers and overall department in IT.   For the past 3+ years I’ve been the project manager on a HUGE software implementation that runs our entire company globally.  We are nearly live with the software finally and I’m looking forward to that happening so I can get back to training!

Bill Mickey and James Knott at West Branch State Park

Mr. Mickey inspired me to shave my head to be more aerodynamic at West Branch State Park

How did you get into mountain biking? How long have you been doing it?

In high school I was a standout track and cross country runner.  I even got to participate with a group called the International Sports Exchange and we travelled to Germany to compete as a Sophomore in HS.  After HS I went to Mount Union College and participated in Cross Country and Indoor Track.   Back in HS, I relied on a lot of natural ability and didn’t train HIGH mileage.  In college it was different and the training was more intense.   To make a long story short, after 3 seasons of Cross Country at Mount Union and a stress fracture each season my college roommate (Kyle Garner) talked me in to riding mountain bikes.   I hung up my running shoes and fell in love with mountain biking.   Being a competitive person I started racing and right away had a blast.

My first races were at Velo Z in Zanesville, Didi Mau Classic in Nelsonville, Knob Scorcher and a few other local races.  Kyle and I had a vision to up the ante in the mountain bike community and we worked with my family to create the Mickey’s Mountain Bike Challenge race series.  I know many have heard of that series that have been around as long as I have.   So I’ve been mountain biking for 20 years on/off.   I raced a lot back in the early days and got to the level I am at now but due to family, work, etc. I took a break for about 12 years.

Sport Masters podium at Mohican State Park in 2014

In our first meeting of the year, Bill won at Mohican State Park. I wasn’t even close to him with my fourth place finish. Ryan Knopf finished second and Rusty Brown finished 3rd.

What motivates you to ride?

I’ve always been a competitor, I love the competition and I enjoy rising to the top in anything I do.  It’s a challenge, something to strive for and something at this point to show others what you can do when you set your mind to it.  I’m hoping my children see my hard work in all walks of life and see what hard work and perseverance can do for a person.  The other reason I do this is to lead a healthy lifestyle.  I’m not in to dieting and the short term fixes, I want to build my body up and be all that I can be for the long haul.   I hope it works!  Mountain biking and cycling in general is a huge stress reliever for me.  It helps me cope with real world problems and we all know how great it feels after a good ride.  It truly is an addiction but this one is a positive one!

Bill Mickey mountain bikes at Chestnut Ridge Metropark.

I ran in to Bill on a pre-ride of the race course at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park.

In 2014, we competed for the whole season. What was it like to read about the race from your competitor’s viewpoint?  

First off, I really enjoy what QuickDirt has done for the community and appreciate the dedication you have in displaying what Ohio has to offer in terms of the mountain biking scene!   I look forward to the race previews for OMBC.  I really enjoy getting a glimpse of the race from James Knott’s viewpoint.  He is a talented writer and does a great job capturing the moment.

You won the Sport Masters division in the OMBC last year. Was that a goal of yours at the beginning of the season and how did it feel to win? What are your racing plans for 2015?  

My goal for 2014 was to win the OMBC series in my division.  It wasn’t easy with the likes of James Knott, Brian Gonser, Tanuma Kunihiko (Max) and a few others.  We had some tough battles in a few of the races but I was determined and had to dig hard at a few of them to put it together.  Dillon State Park was probably the weirdest outcome in 2014.  Brian Gonser was flying and riding strong at the end of the season!  I just remember James and I battling it out to catch Brian, me letting James pass and then Brian flatting and James wrecking in front of me to take the win.  To top it all off I then flatted and had to use Co2 to get back in and take the win.  Nerve wracking!!!

Bill Mickey riding on a Cannondale

Apparently, Bill lost half of his front fork somewhere. It’s hard to believe he was still able to ride. 🙂

My plans for 2015 are focused on the Single Speed Open Mens category.   I really have grown to love my single speed and plan on racing the Open Men’s category for that.  I’ll race some of the OMBC events but my main focus is on the Big Frog 65 with my single speed.  The Big Frog is the younger brother of the Cohutta 100 miler we did last year.   The trails down in TN/GA are absolutely beautiful.   I’m busy the weekend of the Big Bear 2 x 12 this year and  I won’t be able to do it and also will miss the Cranky Monkey race series since it moved clear over by Washington DC!  In the past couple years those were a highlight of the year for me.    I probably will do the Iceman Cometh again, that was an absolute blast in 2014!

What is your approach to training? Do you have a certain mileage you like to hit? We’ve talked about power meter training in the past. Do you have a power meter on your mountain bike?

I like to put time in on the saddle and make sure the workouts have a purpose since my time is limited.  My approach to training in 2013 was to buy a power meter and increase my power output.  I only have a power meter for my road bike.  In 2013 I hired a coach to help me learn the scientific side of it and get an edge. I learned a lot from that year and used some of the training concepts in 2014.  2013 was my first serious year back and I put in over 5000 miles.  My weekly goal was typically 8-10 hours a week training.  Monday night group rides with the 62 Crew (a group I started) were casual, Tuesday – Friday various rides with power, then weekends race.

In 2014 I relied less on my power meter and set a BIG goal to do the Cohutta 100 in April of 2014.  My goal was simple to finish the Cohutta 100 with my good friend Adam Elser.  During the weekdays of the winter months the focus was on spinning classes a couple days a week and long rides on the weekend outside.  The long rides were 2 hours to 6 hours typically.  The closer we got to April the longer the outdoor rides.    This preparation set me up for some of my other favorite races.  It’s all about that base….base..base.  Honestly that is what propels you the rest of the season.  If you build the engine, the rest is tweaking through racing season to keep an edge.  Throw some luck in there and good health.  At least this is my theory and what works for me.

I like hills and grueling courses, the older I get the less rocky stuff I like!  Brady’s Run is a great place to ride if you like hills.

Bill Mickey races at Iceman Cometh in Miichigan

Despite the miserable conditions, Bill said that one of his favorite races of 2014 was the Iceman Cometh race in Michigan.

Is it tough to balance riding with the rest of your life? Family? Work? Other hobbies?

I am the luckiest man alive I think because I have a great wife and she supports my hobbies.  I know when I’m pushing it too much usually before she tells me but it’s hard to keep that in check at times.   She knows it is important to me to do the riding thing because of the health and stress relief factors.  Honestly it helps me be a better person I think.  It helps me focus on my family when I am with them and keeps me strong so I can be there to provide for them.  Providing for my wife and kids is top priority for me.  Being a role model in any way I can is important to me.  I also enjoy working with others and sharing my gifts I have been blessed with.  I enjoy coaching other athletes that are new to the sport in an informal way.  No doubt though, racing and training is hard and tough at times on the family.  There are always sacrifices one has to make in order to do something right.  Any athlete certainly gets that concept.   Besides biking I enjoy camping with the family, bow hunting for deer, and brewing beer.

Bill Mickey and James Knott at Mohican Cabins in 2014

See you next season Bill! Though, my bike will have gears on it, so we may not be racing head-to-head.

What are three events that you recommend that every mountain biker in Ohio should try?

Mohican 100 or 100k, Big Bear 2 x 12, Pan Ohio Hope Ride (www.pohr.org).   The Pan Ohio Hope ride is not a mountain biking event but it is a charity event for the American Cancer Society.  We raise money and support the cause and honestly the event is one of the most well thought out events I’ve ever been involved with.  If you do it once you will understand what I mean, truly a life changing event.  IF anyone wants to join me reach out to me, we ride from Cleveland to Cincinnati over 4 days on very well thought out and supported ride that takes place late July.