Khalen Young, the current Australian BMX Champion and World #2 has put together a big year in 2007 and is looking good for a spot on the Australian Olympic team. He took time out of his busy schedule to have a chat about BMX racing.
bmxultra.com: It must have been a blast to get to the US finally to do some racing early this year, and then take a win as basically an unknown or at least an underdog on an international level?
KY: Yeah, I'd never been to America before the start of the year, so to hop on the gate against guys i've only ever read about or watched on dvd's was a trip. The more I raced them the more comfortable I got. To win a race anytime in America is a big deal, but being able to win within the first month of being here surprised me as much as it surprised you!
bmxultra.com: Congratulations on your win at the first round of the 2007 UCI Supercross World Cup Series. What did a win like that do for your confidence?
KY: Thanks mate, that was a fun race. The track flowed really well. It was like trails going fast.I had just one of those days where everything was clicking. I think winning made me feel legit racing against the best in the world.
bmxultra.com: What do you think of the Supercross style of tracks?
KY: I think they are good if they are built properly, the faster we are going, the bigger the jumps have to be. When they put in small jumps when we are going that fast it can get a little unsafe.
bmxultra.com: Is there anything that could be done to the tracks that could make them better for the riders?
KY: Take out the small jumps.
bmxultra.com: Any changes that would make them more spectacular for spectators?
KY: Sharks in the middle of all the jumps, fire jumps.
bmxultra.com: You could combine them and fry up some chips for the catering
KY: Yeah, it sounds like you've thought about this too.
bmxultra.com: Yeah, maybe on a smaller scale though, more like gold fish and a luke warm hot water bottle
KY: Yeah, maybe they could grow into kio.
KY: Yeah kio are big goldfish
bmxultra.com: Do you think that Supercross style BMX will attract more people or sponsorship to the sport?
KY: I think it makes the sport more appealing, it's heaps faster and jumps are bigger. I don't wanna say it but it makes the sport look more "EXTREME" to the general pubic, which is kinda cool I guess.
bmxultra.com: How do you see a Supercross track working in Adelaide next year?
KY: I'm sure it will be good, the guys building the tracks know what they're doing most of the time.
bmxultra.com: Australia has a whole lotta depth now in the elite classes but the riders are so isolated compared to the rest of the world and haven't really had the opportunities that the Euro and US riders have, do you think '08 will be the year of the Aussies with the first SX down under?
KY: It's hard to say, there are heaps of fast racers on the BMX tracks but when you add that steep ramp and those big jumps it's completly different to an everyday BMX race..there's some fast guys at home, I just don't know how they'll go on those big jumps. We'll just have to wait and see I suppose
bmxultra.com: When all the downhill races were on you must have been chomping at the bit to get to them?
KY: Yeah for sure, there were a few races on before I stopped riding ...I remember watching Brandon Meadows and Robbie Miranda winning X-games. I think they had some jumps between 50-60ft and they where braking for them. That's going pretty fast, plus they had a drop off right out of the start.
bmxultra.com: Do you think that you will ever get a chance to race a downhill race?
KY: Not too sure...if they ever have another one, I'd definetly be keen to race it. They looked really fun to ride.
bmxultra.com: You know who Neil Young is now don't you?
KY: What? I can't believe you asked me that, there's been days where I've spoken to you about music for hours. Are you trying to clown me?
bmxultra.com: Yeah, just checking. For the readers, what music are you into these days?
KY: That's a hard one considering most of my life is based on music,
Gym days I listen to: Chimaira, As i lay dying, Old Metallica, Mudvayne, Slayer
Recovery days: The Panics, Foo Fighters, Radiohead, Muse, Portishead, Massive Attack, TV on the Radio, Jeff Buckley
Trail days: Lil Wayne and Birdman, The Game, Tupac, Mickey Avalon, Eagles of Death Metal. The Presets
bmxultra.com: What were the last 3 CDs you bought?
KY: Eagles of Death Metal- Death by Sexy
The Mars Volta- Relationship of Command
Downsyde- When the Dust Settles
bmxultra.com: What would be the ultimate music festival line up for you?
KY: Sum 41
Queens of the Stoneage
Rage Against the Machine
Vains of Jenna
bmxultra.com: I read on DaleHolmes.com that you want to open a record store. Will you do that while you are a still racing, or is that a retirement plan?
KY: A record store would be something cool to have after BMX, where people could come and have a beer and listen to some good tunes.
bmxultra.com: When we first saw you in the week before the Australian Championships you said you felt a little flat and wasn't sure if you would race. Has the travelling started to take it's toll?
KY: Nah I don't think so. I had gone home to see my family back in Perth, Then when I got back to Sydney to travel to the nationals, there was some politics I was caught up in, and I really couldn't be bothered being involved with certain parties anymore. But that got sorted out for the better and racing has never been so enjoyable.
bmxultra.com: How did it feel to win your first Senior Elite Australian Championship?
KY: It didn't really feel like a national championships to be honest, it just felt like another race, by the time the nationals came around we had already raced 10 rounds of the national series and the same guys were racing that so it didn't feel any different
bmxultra.com: What's the major difference between racing in the US and racing in Australia for you at the elite level?
KY: The Americans have crazy track speed, and the tracks are a lot tighter, where as in Australia the tracks are the opposite, a lot more wide open and not so tight
bmxultra.com: If you had to chose between racing in Aus and racing in the US which would you chose and why?
KY: Racing in the USA, because of the how fast they are around the track.. if you race the fastest you are only going to get faster right?
bmxultra.com: You were basically off the racing scene, just riding here and there, what made you think it's time to step it up and take it more seriously?
KY: My brother Craig and my mate Lincoln used to always nag me about racing again. I was always gonna start racing again but I wanted to do it on my own terms when I was ready. I think if I rushed back into it, I might of run the risk of not wanting to ride my bike.
bmxultra.com: What, or who, would you say have been the biggest influence in your racing career so far?
KY: My dad was always a superfan, my brother Craig and my good mate Lincoln were always on my back to start racing again. Julian Millis and Danny Galea. Of late Scott Sharples has helped me make BMX fun again, Darren Hawkins is someone who I turn to for advice. Rider wise, Luke Madill, Warwick Stevenson, Jamie Grey, Jared Graves. The dbc- and the chL
bmxultra.com: What are your current goals?
KY: Stay healthy, do well at the worlds, more supercross races and selection for the Olympics
bmxultra.com: What do you want out of racing BMX?
bmxultra.com: Do you have something to fall back on when the racing is over for you?
KY: I've always got my tiling trade, but I think I have a good ten years left in me... so hopefully I'm successful in BMX for a while and save me some more money.
bmxultra.com: What sort of training do you do these days?
KY: Ha ha! You know I can't tell you that! What I can tell you is that I am a bit of a "gym rat" and I like doing sprints and riding my bike too..
bmxultra.com: Do you simply just go jumping or simply riding your bike any more or is it 100% racing focus?
KY: Nah, I ride my bike a couple of times during the week, I just try to keep it different so I don't get burnt out doing the same things all the time
bmxultra.com: When was the last time you pulled a backflip?
KY: Geez it's been a while now, the last time I did a backflip I was at the trails with Podge when he was back in australia, that was 10-12 months ago at least.
bmxultra.com: Describe a typical day for KY
KY: I get up at around 7am, turn the jukebox on and listen to some tunes at breakfast then depending what day it is either stroll outside to the gargage to the gym, or go to the BMX track ,or go for a cross country MTB ride through the mountains or maybe do some sprints or maybe rest and do nothing
bmxultra.com: Who are your current sponsors?
KY:HARO, Alex Rims, Shimano, Intense Tyre Systems, No Fear, Tangent and S&M
bmxultra.com: If you could choose any 8 riders from past, present, or future to put in a race, who would you pick and why?
KY:let me see..
All have won a world/aba/nbl number 1 at some stage of the career
bmxultra.com: Complete these sayings
Live fast die...
Only the good die...
The ... and the restless
Life's like a box of...
bmxultra.com: BMX was introduced into the Olympics as an exciting newsport to attract the youth of today, much like boardercross was introduced into the Winter Olympics. Do you think it will be the youth or the older audience that will be more attracted to the Supercross style of BMX?
KY: Yeah, I think the older audience will enjoy it just as much as the younger generation. What's not to like about BMX?
bmxultra.com: It's said that you could get into more trouble with the IOC than Dawn Fraser did in her day. Do you think the Olympics is ready for Khalen Young?
KY: A couple of years ago maybe, but probably not now. I've mellowed out heaps, and I've stopped drinking all that red cordial.
bmxultra.com: You are on the Haro now, how's that working out for you?
KY: Really good, the bike rides fast, good team mates, good times
bmxultra.com: How long is your contract for?
KY: Until 2010
bmxultra.com: What will it mean for your racing?
KY: It's all good. It gives me a really good opportunity to race the worlds best racers week in week out and make a career out of BMX, something you can never achieve living in Australia
bmxultra.com: Will we see you in Aus leading up to the Olympics?
KY: I'll be in Adelaide for the UCI Supercross, thats pretty much it really.
bmxultra.com: Second at the World Championships ain't bad, what were your expectations going in?
KY: I had trained the hardest I could leading up and didn't leave any stone unturned. Then I got really sick a week and a half out, but I was confident that if I got over the sickness I had done the work to be a contender at the finish, turns out I got a silver medal...I'm stoked.
bmxultra.com: What did you think of the Olympic track in Beijing?
KY: I thought it was pretty lame, the jumps were way too short for the speeds we were hitting. I just didn't adjust to the track as quick as I should have. Plus they changed the track 3 times before racing had started on Tuesday, which wasn't entirely fair to the guys who didn't qualify, having watched them change the track for the other 32.
bmxultra.com: The big crash in qualifying must have been dissapointing?
KY: Yeah, kinda, but at least I didn't snap my body in half, just lucky to walk away in one piece.
bmxultra.com: You were carted off to hospital, nothing serious I hope?
KY: No, not too much damage, just re-injured my ac, fractured some ribs and had some bruising on the lungs. All in good shape now though.
bmxultra.com: Do you think the Olympics track will go through some modifications since the second round of the UCI Supercross World Cup took out a few competitors?
KY: The track had been changed 3 times before racing actually started, they changed the track after every practice session, but no the track won't be changed before the olympics
bmxultra.com: Do you have any goals for the ABA or NBL?
KY: Yeah, for sure. I'd like to win both titles.
bmxultra.com: What should people expect from your website?
KY: Don't expect anything too crazy. Just updates and pics from where ever I am racing around the world.
bmxultra.com: How regularly do you plan to update it?
KY: I'll try update it as often as I can
bmxultra.com: Is there anyone you would like to take the opportunity to thank?
KY: My beautiful girlfriend Christine, Scott and Shauna Sharples, my parents, Tony D from Haro Bikes, Lex and Gay Mc'culloch back in Western Australia, Jamie Grey, Jared Graves, Luke Madill ,Warwick Stevenson, Billy Jolliffe, Tanya Bailey, Josh Webb and thedbc-, the chL, Gundy and Linc, db44, JRich, Randy Stumpfhauser, Kyle Bennett, Donny Robinson, go211.com
You can catch up with Khalen at his own website, check out www.khalenyoung.com