How Was Your Weekend - DH #2 with Mikayla Parton
This past weekend, Scottish privateer Mikayla Parton took on the second round of the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William, Scotland. We caught up with her after the event to see how it went, how she dealt with the pressure of a home race, and what's next for her.
Crankbrothers: Mikayla, you finished 8th in the world on Sunday! How are you feeling after the race?
Mikayla Parton: So buzzing! It was a crazy experience, and I honestly had so much fun. I’m really happy how I handled the pressure of a home race and really soaked it all in; it was amazing. It was my first “race day” at Fort William as I did my second ever World Cup there in 2019 but missed out on qualifying by 0.6.
CB: It’s been six weeks since Lourdes; what have you been up to since the season opener?
MP: The time between Lourdes and Fort William flew by! I wanted to try to get in some more races, so I went to the first Scottish Downhill Association race at Ae Forest and also raced the Fort William national round. In between that I had lots of gym and intervals, and lots of downhill bike laps! It’s been really nice to stick around home for a good amount of time.
CB: And how about your off-season? Did you do anything different to prepare this year?
MP: I spent a looooot of time in Wales and it was amazing. The off-season between 2020-2021 I didn’t ride my downhill bike for five months, which was not ideal. Instead of staying in Scotland with no uplift and a lot of snow, I made a few trips down to Wales, one of them I stayed for three weeks! Getting more time on my downhill bike and riding with lots of new and fast people really brought my riding on. I’m so grateful for my friends and Dyfi locals Andy and Jan for adopting me for the first few trips to make it financially doable and allowed me to meet Nia who I eventually rented a room from.
CB: What is it like to race a World Cup in your hometown? Extra pressure or just nice to be home?
MP: Definitely a mix of both! As much as I love traveling, I absolutely love my own bed! It was so special to be able to race a World Cup but go home to my own house. It was also great to have my family and friends around and so many supportive and lovely fans. It honestly blew me away the support I had from people the whole weekend. On the other side of that, I definitely felt a lot of pressure on me during the week and especially after qualifying. I had to take myself off Instagram for the majority of it.
CB: You run your own privateer racing program - tell us about that; who helps you get to the races?
MP: I’m so grateful to have a number of amazing sponsors behind me. Greenpower are my main sponsor and helps me to travel with my mechanic and good friend Matt Scott, also known as Mark Scoot. The people behind Greenpower have the biggest hearts and a huge love for the sport! To add to that I have great support from Trek, Nevis Range, Endura, and more. I’m so happy to have Crankbrothers helping me with wheels, pedals, and shoes, this year, it really makes a huge difference to race season having enough spare parts and equipment.
"The adrenaline and stress helped after all!"
CB: Talking about the race itself, how did practice go for you?
MP: I was loving practice, my bike felt great and the track had just been worked on, so the first few laps were pretty dreamy! It was fun to race the ‘old new section’ from the deer gate. This part isn’t ever open for riding so even though it’s my home track, it was actually pretty different for me, also including the woods and road gap that aren’t open either.
CB: We heard you had a pretty hectic qualifier but still landed in 6th spot; can you tell us about that?
MP: Yes… myself and Matt were actually really prepared and up early, warming up. There was a red flag so we all stopped warming up as were warned it could take a while. We were only given a five minute warning for our start time, but once I was at the gate that changed to one minute very quickly! It was all a bit stressful and I remember being like “oh, I’m racing!” once I got to the first spilt. I couldn’t believe I ended up in 6th in qualifying, it really gave me a good confidence boost and was my best ever qualifying result. The adrenaline and stress helped after all!
CB: Sunday brought some crazy conditions; did this impact your race run?
MP: The weather was far from ideal throughout the weekend, but for Sunday, I think all of the elite women had similar weather. The woods became very chopped up and different for race runs and I made a mistake in there, although I tried not to focus on it as I’m sure a lot of people probably did the same! The worst of the weather was by far the wind in qualifying… that was terrifying!
CB: Can you describe what it’s like to sprint along the motorway section, surrounded by the noise of the crowd?
MP: When I was sprinting the motorway jumps, I had almost zoned out of the noise of the crowd, it was so weird! And when I crossed the finish line I immediately could hear everyone, it really took me back… it was incredible. The crowds in Scotland are like no other! Although I didn’t know how I would react to that many people there, the noise of the crowds and the cheering really got me buzzing!
CB: Looking forward to the rest of the season, what is the next goal you’re chasing?
MP: My next race is something pretty different, I’m racing the E-EWS at Innerleithen! I’m really looking forward to attending the EWS as I’ve never been to one, and the goal of the weekend will be to complete the race as three battery’s is quite a lot for someone who loves a gondy lap!
Be sure to catch Mikayla on Red Bull TV at the World Cups all summer long, and check out her Instagram if you want to follow what she gets up to this summer.