Friday, April 23, 2010

Interview: 4 Time Sea Otter Winner Ty Kady

Former Colonel's Bicycles employee takes his forth Sea Otter XC victory. Read all about it here:

Colonel’s Bikes: Tell us about your Sea Otter Race win this year?

Ty Kady: You know, it was perfect weather all weekend, and the S-Works 29 is the perfect bike for that style of course. Maybe it was meant to be the perfect storm after 18 months of no racing. All I could remember was thinking how good the course was and how the big wheels just rolled on that course so good, it was actually really fun.

CB: As a former Colonel’s employee, what skills if any did you learn that transferred to this race win?

TK: Oh my whole tenure at Colonel’s taught me a lot about the bike. First, it’s a must I keep the bike together during the race, as my lack of mechanic skills were exposed pretty quick while trying to change a 20” wheel on a baby jogger! If it wasn’t for Rick getting me “Out of the Woods” on a lot of mechanical mishaps at the shop, I would have never grown to appreciate taking care of the bike on and off the course. In fact, I made my first surge in this year’s race….of all places in “The Woods”, the first little single track climb after a sandy decent that is heavy with trees and foliage. I figured if I could get “out of the woods there”; I had a good chance at adding another Sea Otter title to my closet. It was way easier than working on Raylon’s bike.

Next, you also got to be honest with yourself and those around you. I learned that from Doug Coyle himself. I took that ideology and applied it to the Otter in that I just raced against myself and the course to the best of my ability. If that’s a win, a 10th or whatever, if I gave it an honest effort, that’s all I could ask for.

I also learned how to ride alone in the wind, after getting dropped several times by Davo and the guys on those Sunday road rides. And since I went solo about 30 minutes into the race this year, there was a lot of solo time in the wind.

Lastly, I made safe passes in lapped traffic and didn’t take UN necessary risks. Randy’s story of Chappy Blose ending his career down in the Gator pit in Florida stuck in my head as I was carving my way through the younger age groups. It can all go south in a blink of an eye if your not careful!

CB: We first met you in ’96, hosting you for the Dallas Super Cross, why the switch to bicycles?

TK: Remember that ’96 road trip with Faulkner in the Ranger? The only better one was my trip with McClellan in ’98 and the whole month I stayed after meeting Davy, damn that was good stuff.

But back to the question, the MX ended leading into the 2002 season when deals fell apart and I had to come to the decision it was time to hang it up, and find a much more consistent source of income. By that time I had gotten married, and had more than myself to think about. Also the injuries were stacking up, and the body and mind was tired from that 14 year grind. Plus, my self awareness skills that I learned from Randy Sullivan in my Pro Circuit days kicked in! I wasn’t up for a factory ride at the time and I wasn’t getting any younger, and I wasn’t going to go into debt to try and race against the best riders in the world.

As for the bicycle, I think I first got into it from hooking up with you and that Jamis Dakota back in ’96? After taking a year or so off from the moto, I decided to give Cross Country a try. I got smoked by a guy with hairy legs and a camel back out at Southridge, and it pissed me off that I couldn’t even win the Sport class. The bicycle humbled me pretty quick and gave me a new found respect for sporting.

I think the challenge was the lure for me…..oh then I ran into Johnny O and formed a friendship with him. And once you hang with JO, you either need to go to the next level or go home….that guy is super dedicated even today at 49. He knows what it means to compete at the highest levels of sport and his input and influence on me was huge!

CB: You’ve racked up some good victories, 4 Sea Otter’s, a couple National Championship Podiums, NORBA National race wins etc… did you have those as set goals?

TK: Not at all. I really have a love hate relationship with the bicycle. I love to hate it sometimes! For me, bicycle racing is awesome and a great healthy outlet, but it will never be the same to me as motocross or the sensations I got from winning at that level. Unless you’ve ridden something with a motor and throttle, it’s hard to explain.

The bike is a really good tool for getting fit, and so far its been way less hazardous than jumping 80 foot triples, or seat bouncing off a dragon’s back into a bowl turn. But it’s never been like I got on the bicycle to try and have a “second” Pro career. It’s just that competing is in my blood, and the bicycle was just the next thing for me.

I also think and this is no way to disrespect the sport, but in America it’s not a super popular sport. Motocross is like Cycling in Europe and bicycle racing is more of a niche underground sport here and the talent depth isn’t that good in the amateur ranks. So a guy like me with some basic dedication, and a decent skill set can excel pretty easily. But with a 61 VO2 and a 171 AT, I don’t have the numbers or gifts to make a run with the big boys!

Now that I have Sid and Max on the Sho-Air/ Specialized Pro Team, and I’ve watched them beat North America’s best heads up and have done some rides with them, it makes you realized how gnarly real pro cyclists are! And even they will tell you guys like Absalon are on another level, and to me that is mind blowing! But it’s probably no different that Ricky Carmichael was to Motocross, he’s just on another level, even among all those bad ass riders!

One title I do wish I could have locked down was the National Cross Country title. I came close as an expert a couple times, but as a Semi Pro got my ass kicked in Vermont two years straight. The concept of nailing one race on one weekend was something I never really could time right; I’m more of a series type of guy.

CB: Where did the nickname Red Cowboy come from?

TK: I think you guys gave that to me right?? Those were the days of dry dockers, upper tankers, wall rides on the hoods of cars and basically causing havoc as an abrasive 19 year old moto guy out on the road. He’s still around, but I don’t let him out very often. But when he does surface, he’s a little more refined these days!

Remember I wore that Cowboy hat from Fred’s CafĂ© that Terry gave me for like 26 days straight, so it all just fit! I still have that thing to this day sitting on top of our refrigerator and will probably break it out for this year’s race down at Mellow Johnny’s.

CB: What are you doing now for work?

TK: I’m running a professional mountain bike team that’s funded by Sho-Air and Specialized. I act as the team manager, and I get to work with some pretty top ranked mountain bike athlete’s in Australian Sid Taberlay a 5X Aussie National Champ and Olympian, and a and up and coming Canadian racer Max Plaxton. It’s a good group of guys, and it’s pretty cool to get to work with legit Professional athletes from the other side of the fence.

I also market the US Cup mountain bike series…check it out at It’s a nation wide network of series and individual mountain bike events, from National Caliber UCI ranked races, to low key one off events. It’s a great way to try and give back to the sport, plus use some of my motocross experience to help elevate the sport into the future.

It’s a great gig. Pretty hectic at times, but it pays the bills, I get some cool hand me down product and get to work with Ned Overend every now and again, so what else could I ask for!

CB: So you work with “The Captain”?

TK: Ya, being Specialized’s factory domestic XC team, we’ve developed a relationship with Ned. I have to say you’ll never find a more down to earth guy like Ned. He’s always willing to give feedback, track down some product and lend an ear when needed. Plus at 50+ he can still crush guys half his age, its unreal! I can’t say enough nice things about the guy. In fact all the people at the big “S” are very supportive and pretty cool.

CB: Anyone you want to thank?

TK: There are so many people that have influenced me along the way; I probably couldn’t get to them all. First and foremost is Davy. She’s been the biggest influence and supporter of me and put up with a lot of shit while I figured things out! So, I would have to thank you, Rick, Amy and Sully for that intro. Of course mom and dad for doing the best with what they had to support my motocross racing career. Johnny O’Mara was also a big influence, in that he gave me an insight to what a real deal professional athlete’s mindset and regiment takes. And while it was too late to apply to my motocross, it sure elevated my thinking in cycling and other aspects of my life. Other people like Chris Watson, Davo and the people I came across while living in Texas, I walked away from for the better.


Anonymous said...

The Red Cowboy is a legend!


Ya man your not pro at all!!!! Come on dude, get real!!

Anonymous said...

I think there might be a dead sea otter stuck to his face?!

ano_green said...

Ty Kady is the man!

Sully said...

What's your beef with Kady, Gibson? Are you some mid pack west coast dork thats been getting his doors blown off by Ty for years?
I could be mistaken, but do you think that "Pro Circuit Racing" is something that Ty said he did? It's not, it's a place of business where he worked. You are a Jackass.

Anonymous said...

Gibby, the only one that needs to get real is you....Kady's already had a pro career in MX. He can't help it if the current talent in CAT 1's is weak! The guy works for a living, last time we checked, the word professional defines what you do for a living!!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Big Red!

Anonymous said...

I apologise, but, in my opinion, you are mistaken. I can prove it. Write to me in PM, we will discuss.

Anonymous said...

I see the Cowboy has his own fan club!