Mike Gul is a funnyman of BMX, he doesn't mind kidding around, but he
is still very serious about BMX and extremely patriotic to Hyper, Dope
and his other sponsors.
Although Mike is currently an A-Pro he is one of the most professional riders on the circuit, a great ambassador.
bmxultra.com: How did you get involved in BMX?
Maniac: I raced a few times when I was little. But my parents were unable to take me to any local races on the weekend. So I started skateboarding. About 3 years later my friend and I (who also used to race BMX) were talking some trash to one another about who would beat who if we raced. So the next day I went out to the garage, dusted my bike off and we went to track to race.
bmxultra.com: When and where was it?
Maniac: September 1991. At "The Hill" in Elgin, IL.
bmxultra.com: How did you get "Maniac" for a nickname?
Maniac: 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 rhythm 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."
bmxultra.com: How's your riding going at the moment?
Maniac: My riding itself is feeling good right now. But as for my results? Those are not doing to good so far this year. I keep getting hurt. I'm not too worried though. As long as I continue to train hard everything will come together.
bmxultra.com: What is your highest ranking in the NBL and ABA?
Maniac: I've been National #2 in the NBL and National #5 in ABA. Both were as an amateur. As a pro I was #3 A pro in ABA and #41 in AA pro
bmxultra.com: Who are your sponsors?
Maniac: Hyper Bicycles, Dope BMX Products, Answer, Atomic, Dragon, Nema, Profile, Mike Taylor Designs, ODI, KMC chains, Sun/Ringle, JNCO, Thomson, and Chris King.
bmxultra.com: What's new at Hyper and Dope?
Maniac: Ton's of good stuff is happening. Hyper just released the new Boxter bike for 2000. It's great! The bike is stiff, but not so stiff that you can't accelerate out of the gate and through turns. Hyper will also be expanding their line of frames. By mid year they should have frames available in all sizes and cruisers. As far as Dope BMX Products goes. Dope just released their new shin guards. You can take out the hard plastic so that you can wash the neoprene. Dope also has new mini number plates to go along with their line of number plates, numbers, shirts, jerseys, long sleeve shirts, and hats.
bmxultra.com: Tell us more about the New Hyper frame series.
Maniac: Well, as I said, Hyper has the new Boxster frame out. It's 7005 AL with a "box" rear end. The bike rides great. Accelerates, jumps, and handles like a dream come true. There is nothing on the this bike that I would change.
bmxultra.com: What input did you have into the Boxter frame?
Maniac: When the first frame was made I got to ride it and test it. I rode it for a while to make sure that everything was where we wanted it. I didn't get to design the bike, but I had input as far as where and how I thought things should be.
bmxultra.com: Will there be new models coming out?
Maniac: Oh yeah. By the end of this year Hyper will have a complete line of bikes available from minis-XXL. You can expect to see a cruiser and a XXL real soon! We are currently doing both models.
bmxultra.com: I hear you guys are just keeping up with demand what do you
think it is about the new frames that makes them so popular?
Maniac: I think that its a combination of a few things. As I already said, the bike rides great. The colors are awesome (electric green, red, blue, and polished). And the bike has a good clean look to it. All of things together make for a great bike.
bmxultra.com: Why is it that Hyper dropped off over the past couple of years?
Maniac: I wouldn't say that Hyper dropped off. Hyper has been getting things together for this year. We have big plans and everything is falling into place.
bmxultra.com: Why did you pick 2000 to bring out the new frame?
Maniac: It's our time to show everyone what we have to offer. We have been working on the Boxster frame for sometime. Now it's perfect and it's ready for the world.
bmxultra.com: Is Hyper Exporting? Will we be able to buy them in Australia?
Maniac: Yes, we are exporting. Everyone should be able to get a Hyper regardless of where they live.
bmxultra.com: What's life on the road as a BMXer like?
Maniac: It can be hard sometimes. When your traveling every week. Sometimes I get home and it doesn't even feel like home. But overall I wouldn't change it.
bmxultra.com: What's it like being a Pro BMXer in a relationship?
Maniac: It can be really hard at times. If I'm not traveling then I'm training. And there is always times when it would be nice to go out and do something together but I'm to tired from racing/training to go anywhere. But what can I do? I'm a BMXer so I just have to live with it.
bmxultra.com: What happens when you are away for more than a couple of days?
Maniac: Lots and lot's of phone calls! Not much else I can do. Each year I do a clinic/race tour where I'll be gone for a month or 2 month's. That's a hard part of the year for our relationship. You just have to take the good with the bad and make it work if you want to.
bmxultra.com: What's the best thing about doing the coaching clinics?
Maniac: The best part is getting to see a kid that couldn't even balance on the gate or something and watch him/her get their first start. Just getting to see how psyched the kids get. That's the best part, getting to help the kids.
bmxultra.com: What's the worst thing?
Maniac: Either when the kids don't listen and all the want to do is talk to one another instead of listening to what I have to say or show them. That just makes the clinic take that much longer and takes away from the kids riding time.
bmxultra.com: What's your favorite track?
Maniac: I don't know if I have a favorite track. I would say my local track "The Hill" in Elgin, IL. It's not so much the track that's my favorite but just the way the track is run that makes it so much fun.
bmxultra.com: Who do you go riding/training with?
Maniac: I mostly do my training by myself. I've done some training with Warwick Stevenson. And I'll ride with anyone that wants to.
bmxultra.com: What would you say is the most significant change in BMX over
the years that you have been racing?
Maniac: The amount of pros. When I started there were only a handful of pros. And out of that handful only a few were really able to win. Now there are ton's of pro's and more then half of them are capable of winning on any given weekend.
bmxultra.com: Who would you say is the most influential person in BMX racing
Maniac: I don't know if BMX has a single most influential person. Not sure.
bmxultra.com: If you could change anything about BMX what would it be?
Maniac: To get more exposure like supercross has. They have more TV and press in general then BMX does. And when you get coverage you get outside sponsors. And with outside sponsors that brings more $$$ for everyone.
bmxultra.com: What sort of an impact do you think the web will have on BMX?
Maniac: I think the web is great for BMX. You can learn a lot off of it. You no longer have a wait a month to see results from races, you can get news the next day, help kids that are wanting to start or just starting out in BMX and help promote BMX racing in general.
bmxultra.com: What would you like to do when your racing career is over?
Maniac: I will own my own business. Not sure what business it will be yet. But it will be all mine.
bmxultra.com: What is the single thing that keeps you motivated with BMX
after all the training and traveling?
Maniac: Wanting to succeed and accomplish the goals that I have set for myself. There's going to be good weekends and there's going to be bad ones. It's just a matter of learning from the bad ones and working that much harder. If you remember your goals and dreams you can do anything!
bmxultra.com: What sort of training do you do?
Maniac: Basically the same thing as everyone else. But in a nutshell, gym 3-5 times per week, sprints, going to the track.
bmxultra.com: How does it vary between on and off season?
Maniac: Since BMX really has no off season. I try to pick out some of the bigger races that I would really like to do good at. So I really focus on those races. And I'll train through some races just so that I can do good at those big ones. If I'm racing every weekend, then I won't train during the week as much as I normally would.
bmxultra.com: What gearing do you run?
Maniac: I currently have on a 38-14
bmxultra.com: What crank length do you use?
Maniac: Profile 180
bmxultra.com: Do you think there is any formula as to how to work out what
crank length a person should use?
Maniac: The best way to know if your cranks are right is to have someone that knows a lot about BMX watch you. If you are "chopping wood" (when you pedal you are choppy and not making smooth circles as you pedal) then your crank is to long for you. The best thing to do is always try someone else's bike to see if you like their gearing and crank length.
bmxultra.com: Would you consider trying out for the world's longest jump
Maniac: They just had that contest. NO I didn't go. I think that's a little too crazy for me!
bmxultra.com: What age limit would you put on BMX?
Maniac: To be a professional? I don't know. Eric Rupe is 38 and still kicks butt. He can hang in the pro class. So I'm not sure you can put an age on it. If we are not talking in the pro class, I don't think there is an age limit. It's all about having fun. When the fun stops, so should your racing.
bmxultra.com: Tell us what you think of the older pros who still hang in
there with todays pros, take Harry Leary for example.
Maniac: It's incredable to see guy's like Harry or Rupe out there. And there not just showing up to race. Their there to win. I have ton's of respect for those guy's. They have lot's of talent to be out there today and still able to kick butt.
bmxultra.com: Do you think there is a point in your life where you just
have to say...that's it and sell off your bike?
Maniac: I don't think so. I love to ride bicycles. Whether its BMX, Mountain bikes, Dirt jumping, whatever. I just enjoy riding a bicycle. I don't see that changing.
bmxultra.com: What do you think it would take to get BMX as big as say Tennis
or Basketball or any of the other mainstream sports?
Maniac: Bigger outside sponsors. If we get them we get more money. And with more money comes more magazine and tv coverage. I also think that a lot of the pros need to learn how to do better interviews and really plug all their sponsors. Otherwise why would any company give $$$$ and not get any return from it.
bmxultra.com: What is the major difference between NBL and ABA and do you
think it's a good thing to have 2 sanctions?
Maniac: The best thing about the ABA is that they know how to put on a show! At every national they do, you got music for the pros, they announce each pro's name and sponsor. You see everyone running to watch the races. The ABA really get's the crowd pumped up for the pro's. This year at one of the nationals the ABA had fire and fireworks going off for the "pro rollout." It realy made for a great show. No matter if your into BMX or this was your first race. It was great. The best thing about the NBL is that their tracks are great. They build really rad tracks. Last year I went to only 1 NBL race that was no good. And that was due to bad weather. The NBL has been building pro sections at a bunch of their nationals. And that always makes for great race action. And the sections have been so hard that even the best of the pro's can strugle to get through them. But the NBL needs to learn to get the crowd into the races more like the ABA does.
bmxultra.com: What music do you listen to?
Maniac: I listen to just about anything but country. At races I listen to anything that's hard (Pantera, Slipnot, Kitty, Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit, etc..)
bmxultra.com: What do you think of Neil Young?
Maniac: I don't.
bmxultra.com: What about when you are not at races? What do you listen to
Maniac: When I'm not racing I'll listen to rock, alternative, and sometimes some rap.
bmxultra.com: Do you get to many concerts or music festivals?
Maniac: Unfortunately I don't really get to go to many concerts.
bmxultra.com: You have spent some time with Aussie riders like Grant White
and John Smart, what do you think of them?
Maniac: Yes, when Grant White was here in 1998 I got to know him pretty well. I liked Grant, he made me laugh. I used to tell him that he looks like the character from the book "Where's Waldo." You guy's in AU have a similar book by a different name. I have hung out with John Smart also. He and I actually where on the road together for a while doing clinics during the weekdays and racing the nationals on the weekend. I enjoyed both guys. I think there is so much to learn from other people, especially foreigners. And not just things about racing. Just life in general. They where great to hang out with and I enjoy it every time that I get to see any of those guys.
bmxultra.com: Yeah we have where's waldo I think we'll have to dress grant
up in a striped shirt and run a separated at birth thingy.
Maniac: That would be great! I'm telling you. Look at Grant and picture him with that red and white striped outfit and hat on. It's a perfect match.
bmxultra.com: Have you picked up any bad habits from them?
Maniac: Unfortunately I have picked up a few.
bmxultra.com: Have you picked up on any Aussie slang or sayings?
Maniac: These are the habits I picked up! I've learned all kinds of Aussie sayings. And I have a really bad accent that I try to use to act more like I'm from there. Some of the guy's from AU found it funny. Some others just wanted to beat me up. I can really get on peoples nerves with that one. And I don't even realize that I'm doing it half the time.
bmxultra.com: What is your favorite Aussie saying and why?
Maniac: I think my favorite has to be "My throat is as dry as a dead Dingo's balls." That one just cracks me up!
bmxultra.com: If you were told you could win a heap of money in one week
and do a few coaching clinics in AU would that be enough for you to come
down or is there more to it than that?
Maniac: Me personally, I would be all over that. I would love to come down, see and experience your country. And me being able to clinics would make it that much easier financially.
bmxultra.com: Maybe you could tie in a release of the new hyper tour?
Maniac: That would be a great idea. I know that not to many companies even do a tour. Let alone do a tour outside of the country!
bmxultra.com: In AU you get a lot of American culture on TV/radio/and any
other form of media these days. Do you hear much about what's going on
in AU in the US?
Maniac: Unfortunately not really. We do get the occasional on what's going on. The best way for us is to use the Internet to check out what's really going on in other countries.
bmxultra.com: Do you ever plan on coming to Australia?
Maniac: I would love to. I'm hoping to come out someday soon. AU is on the top of list for place's outside the country that I would like to go to.
bmxultra.com: You know we have the 2003 worlds?
Maniac: Yeah I just read that on the Internet. That's great. If things are going as planned I will definantly be there.
bmxultra.com: Au is about 15000kms from the US...what do you think it would
take to bring US pro riders to Australia given it's such a long time on
the plane and that most of the larger events clash with ABA and NBL races?
Maniac: I think that most of the pro's would love to go there. But, let's face it. It's not the pro's money we are spending when we get to go on trips to other country's for racing BMX. So it needs to be worth it for the sponsors to send their riders over to AU. I guess that would mean more magazine and TV coverage. Or some kind of promotional tour would work great.
bmxultra.com: A number of Aussie riders have been riding well in the US
over the past years do you think we'll ever see scouts coming to AU to
Maniac: That's a good question. Right now I would say no way. Pro BMX'ers don't make enough money to where it would be really beneficial for a company to send someone from their company over to scout out riders. That's definitely more for Baseball, football, and other sports.
bmxultra.com: What do people (outside of the BMX scene) say to you when you
tell them you're a Professional BMXer?
Maniac: They usually think I mean motocross. Then when I explain that its the kind of bike YOU pedal. They usually go, oh aren't you a little old for that or can you make any money doing that.
bmxultra.com: What do you want to get out of BMX?
Maniac: To see the world, meets lot's of cool people, and show kids that you can be a pro BMXer and have fun riding your bike without getting caught up with all that crap that goes on out there today. It's important that we show kids that.
bmxultra.com: Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
Maniac: I can keep improving. I would like to say that I'm on top of the race world. But with BMX you never know what's going to happen. Where ever I am in 3 years, I just hope that I'm happy.
bmxultra.com: Is there anyone you would you like to thank?
Maniac: Of course. I would like to start out thanking my Mom and dad for always supporting me when I was down and thanks to you Shane for doing this interview with me. Clay at Hyper Bicycles for giving me the chance to represent the company, Mike Antes from Dope BMX Products for not only being a great sponsor but a great friend, and all of my Co sponsors, Joey Licata at Answer for always helping me out, Profile, NEMA, Dragon, KMC Chains, Sun/Ringle, TL with JNCO, Mike Taylor Designs, Atomic, ODI, Chris at S&M for hooking me up, Chris King, and Thomson seat posts. Thanks to everyone that has helped me when I'm doing clinics and yes that includes John Smart.
If you would like more information about Hyper or Mike, check out the Hyper website at www.hyperbicycles.com.