Catching up with Payton Ridenour

Now that the dust has settled, reflecting back to the Grands and Winning the race and a National Number 1 Girl Title, how does it feel to put your name in the record books?
It feels amazing! Winning the amateur title is one goal that I’ve always wanted to accomplish! Winning the national age group title is cool, but to win an award this huge and for my name to go into the record books alongside riders like Alise is an honor.

How did you approach the main event? Anything different?
For the main event I didn’t do anything different than I would usually do when I go up for a race. I knew I was up for the title, but honestly I forgot about it by the time I crossed the finish line and was just stoked I won (haha). For prep leading up to it, I just kept it fun. I had fun in the chutes and on the gate, and that’s what helped me win and stay relaxed in the end.

How did you celebrate?
I was absolutely amazed by the amount of people who congratulated me on the title, and especially all of the pros who came up to me. After the races, my family and I went to an Irish Pub for dinner where we celebrated. It meant a lot to receive congratulations from my competitors, friends, family, sponsors, frankly from lots of people I didn’t even know, and tons of riders who inspire me.

We see you’ve been riding your park bike and some MTB in the off season. Do you think switching things up helps with your racing?
I’ve been trying to ride at some indoor bike parks during the winter since no tracks are open near me because of the weather. I’ve ridden at Ray’s Indoor MTB Park in Cleveland, Ohio once and the Wheelmill in Pittsburgh, PA a few times this year. I’ve also done a few cross-country mountain bike rides with my Dad on the local trails. I think switching things up helps with my racing tons! Exposing myself to different kinds of cycling not only expands my skills but could also present me with new opportunities.

Have you been checking out the Women’s Park events now that they’re in the Olympics? What are your thoughts on it?
I haven’t really checked out the Women’s Park events too much. I think it would be super cool to branch out and try some of that stuff someday, though. But right now, racing takes up just about all of my schedule. Plus, I’m planning on competing in some extra events this year.

Phoenix kicks off in a few weeks. How are you feeling after the off season?
I’m feeling amazing! I’ve been training in the off season at the indoor bike parks and on the rollers. I haven’t gotten any track time in because of the snowy and freezing weather, but I’ll be out on the west coast a little bit before Phoenix, so I’ll get plenty of track time out there. At my house the highs have been below freezing all day and it’s either raining or snowing!

I know you’ve been keeping your eye on the Red Bull Pump Track Series. Any plans on hitting it up this year?
Awww, yeeaahhh! When I saw the Red Bull Pump Track Series last year it definitely caught my eye. I’m signed up to hit up one of the qualifiers this year so I’m super pumped to race that. I’ve been working on my pump-track skills at the indoor bike parks lately, and it’s so much fun!

What’s the rest of the year looking like?
For the 2019 season a big goal of mine is to go to Zolder, Belgium for the world championships and race the junior class there. I would love to travel to and race my first world cup too. As for nationals, the system is a little confusing but I was planning on racing quite a few junior races in the U.S. this year. I was also going to do a few other events like dual slaloms, the Red Bull Pump Track Series, and hit up some local trail jams.

Final words…
A huge thank you to my Mom and Dad, Coach Arielle, Jamie Staff, Dale Holmes, and my sponsors (Haro, Cliq, Dale Holmes Racing, 100%, WD40, 3dyn Composites Inc, Dvide, ODI, Gaerne, Box, Tioga, HRP Designs, EVS Sports) for supporting the dream! See everyone in Phoenix!

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