Ty Kady: Pro Athlete turned US CUP Marketing Director
Ty Kady, former Supercross Pro and Semi-Pro mountain biker, has been the Marketing Director for the US CUP National Mountain bike series this year. He tells us how he got there and what’s it like to be on the admin side of racing…
You were a privateer Suzuki Pro Circuit rider and ripped it up right here in CA back in the day, how did you get into mountain biking?
I got into Mountain Biking as a way to regain some fitness I had lost after retiring from racing. I was also was looking for a healthy athletic outlet that wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t as high risk as Supercross, and something I could enjoy without alot of pressure.
You were a a pro athlete at a very young age, what did you miss out on growing up? When did you start racing moto and when did you quit?
I guess I Ã¢â‚¬Å“missedÃ¢â‚¬Â out on a lot of the normal teen social events-Friday Night Football, School Dances, Date night, Spin the bottle and all that stuff that goes along with being a teen ager coming of age. But at the time, I was so dedicated and focused on being the best racer I could, I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really feel like I was missing out. I was willing to sacrifice those experiences, because I believed so much in what I was trying to accomplish, I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need to be like everyone else.
I was getting a completely different life experience that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m grateful for today. In many ways, I think it was good for me because it kept me focused, taught me how to be regimented and goal orientated, plus it kept me out of trouble, drugs and all that other stuff teens get wrapped up in! Sure I missed the Friday night Keggers, drag racing down at Camelot and some of the school dances, but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think I would trade that in for the lessonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and experience racing taught me.
Now as an adult, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m already making up for lost party time and doing it responsibly.
I started riding motoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s at age 3, but because my dad had been injured some much on them, my parents were reluctant to have me race. It was more of a family thing were would go out to the desert for the weekend.
They put me through Pop Warner Football, Little League Baseball and BMX before I finally changed there mind when I was 12. So I actually got a late start to racing, but accelerated through the ranks pretty quickly, turning Pro in High School. I actually stopped racing at the end of 2001, just before the 2002 season started. Some broken sponsorship agreements and a list of serious injuries finally put a stop to my racing.
You have an impressive mountain bike rezzie with a semi pro Nationchamp, State titles how much do you get to ride now that you are working for the series?
Well, that USA Cycling Ã¢â‚¬Å“National One DayÃ¢â‚¬Â Semi Pro title is the only thing I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t nail down!! MT. Snow kicked my ass two years in a row and sent me home empty handed.
However, I was fortunate to win Sea Otter 3X, from the Sport Class, all the way into the Semi ProÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. I won several Semi Pro Ã¢â‚¬Å“NationalÃ¢â‚¬Â events, the Counting Coup 3X, California State series and at one point was USA CyclingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s #1 ranked Semi Pro rider, so I was lucky to have some good success on the bike. The bike was never meant to be a Pro endeavor for me. Its just that I caught on pretty quick and had a good work ethic and skill set that allowed me to rise to the top pretty quick.
I can actually say towards the end of 2008 racing wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even fun for me. People felt like I was cheating them by not moving to Pro and I was already in way deeper than I had imagined with training, diet, traveling, racing etc. So I said to myself that I would take 2009 off and focus on my career and my wife.
Its funny, now that I manage the Sho-Air/Specialized Pro Cross Country team and US Cup Mountain Bike series, I have very little time for riding….kinda of ironic. But IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m starting to turn that around and have been commuting a couple days a week on the bike into work, and doing a bunch ride on the weekend. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m trying to keep it balanced, as I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want over saturate myself with cycling, because its my job 50+ hours a week. But on the other hand, its the healthy side of cycling that got me involved in the first place, and it keeps me in check. If I can get in 6-8 a week, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m stoked!
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d say the Sho Air pro team is pretty lucky to have you manage the team because you get it. WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the best thing you think you have to offer them?
Just the fact that I have been there as a Pro athlete before. I know what it takes to prepare mentally and physically to operate at the highest level. Why I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the resume of Sid Taberlay or Max Plaxton on the bicycle, I understand where they are coming from, the pressures they face and what it means to walk that thin line of training, recovery, diet and staying mentally and physically fresh for an entire season.
I also recognize that these guys are individuals. Each has there own way of preparing for a race or dealing with stress etc. So they know they can be themselves around me, which I think allows them to compete at their highest level. I just try and give them peace of mind, some consistency throughout the year and advice if they need it. But other than than, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been around long enough at this level to know how to prepare properly, which tires to run, what bike setup they like, race day tactics and all the other things that go along with bike racing.
So the US CUP is about to have itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s final race this Sunday. How did the series do in your eyes?
All in all I feel the series was major success. We had to really create something from nothing after the NMBS went defunct. We also knew that 2009 was going to be a learning year for us, as to what worked, what didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t and what things we need to improve on. But overall I can say without a doubt we gave it 110% and did the very best we could.
Lead moto: We have some of the best footage around with you on the case. What are some of the funny things you see up there in the front with the guys duking it out.
The lead moto was my break from all the e-mails, conference calls and stress of running the team and series. It was my favorite 2 hours out of the day, watching these top male and female athletes go at it. The sport really is exciting when you can watch it unfold over the entire course and a 2 hour period. I got to see some team tactics, some bickering between the riders and some crashes as well.
WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the most stressful part of race day?
Making sure everything is taken care of.
What do you plan on doing better or different in 2010?
We have some exciting things lined up for 2010. We going with a new model for our North American One Day Championships that should be a great model for racers and sponsors alike. We will also be operating the PRO XCT series again, along with USA Cycling. Kelli Lusk has given us much more input over the venue selection, marketing, sponsorship and Ã¢â‚¬Å“look and feelÃ¢â‚¬Â of the series, so I think that this new partnership model will help keep the PRO XCT series as the premiere cross country series in North America.
Scot Tedro has a lot of energy and passion, how do you keep up?
I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t honestly. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m hoping when he turns 46 he slows down a little, but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think that will happen. Scott by far has the most boundless energy and enthusiasm for the sport of cycling and life I have personally encountered. He challenges me everyday to think outside the box and dream the impossible, which is good for me because it pushes me outside my comfort zone and makes me look at things from all angles. On the flip side, it can often stress me out a little because IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m the one who has to find a way to turn his dream into a reality. Sometimes I can, sometimes I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. Scott and I end up balancing each other out because we are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but I think that is a positive thing.
How has this series shaped the sport if at all?
I hope that its given back to the amateur and Pro rider alike. We want to recognize all these racers, offering them a place to come race their bikes, have fun and be rewarded for their efforts.
Hardest part of your job?
Trying to please everyone when you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t
When did you get your first tattoo? Any more coming up?
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m actually looking to get some more work done here once the series final concludes. I got my first Tat when I was 17 or 18 and have just been collecting them over the years. Alot of my artwork reflects a period in my life, certain beliefs or something that was close to me or affected me in a way that I wanted to embrace. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve located a really good artist in Fullerton that I like, so hopefully by 2010 IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll have some new ink on display.