By Anthony J. Nocella II, Ph.D. — Anthony Nocella: Thank you Hayden Raymond for allowing me to interview for Cycling West. It is a pleasure to connect with you again, since I moved from Durango, Colorado. Not only were you an amazing student at Fort Lewis College, but you are also a professional BMX rider on the Pure Bicycle Company Professional Team. Can you tell me a few of the struggles of being a professional cyclist and a full-time student?
Hayden Raymond: When I was in school, I was actually racing on Pure’s American Factory team, which is a professional/amateur team. I was able to get picked up on that sponsorship my sophomore year, so my freshman year was in my opinion my hardest year on and off the bike, from trying to figure out a training schedule to still get school done to then trying to rearrange classes to make races to trying to build relationships with professors so I didn’t fail. It was all super stressful and it just became very hard to handle at seventeen years old. But once I got picked up factory and was able to make it to the races in a reasonable amount of time, a lot of stuff got easier.
AN: Fort Lewis College is a small college in a small town, but has one of the best cycling teams in the country. What makes a college cycling team successful in your opinion and what should high school students who are cyclists look for in a college cycling team?
HR: So, for example, while Fort Lewis is in a small cycling town, Durango as a whole community supports every one of the riders here at the school no matter the discipline. The answer is community for sure. When I spoke to the staff in our program, they spoke to me as a student first and then cared about the athlete. For me that was huge in keeping me guided through my studies, because once you get contracts you start thinking of what you could be doing instead of sitting in classes. You definitely need to look for that support, and as a young kid the biggest thing that I’d say is know your worth. Go somewhere that you feel that you can get invested in by the program just as much as you invest yourself into that program.
AN: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic there is no racing and there is very little connecting with other cyclists because of distancing rules put in place nationally. How are you training and preparing for future races currently? Do you have any training tips for BMX riders during the pandemic?
HR: This pandemic is definitely been crazy and thrown us for a loop. The whole training program has basically changed overnight so we’re basically in a giant block of off-season training. My biggest advice for the kids to get to the tracks is ride your bike as much as you can right now. Don’t worry about the gym being closed and all that stuff. I was told by a good friend of mine a while back that the skills aren’t made at the track, but brought to the track. So all the kids just really need to remember that you need to build your programs and your skills now, so that when the race is open we can go full throttle.
AN: What are the three best BMX tracks in the southwest to ride and why?
HR: The three best tracks in the southwest side are Red Canyon BMX in Salt Lake City, Utah because it’s just a nice open track. The National there is always nice with great people and a great community. Duke City BMX in Albuquerque, New Mexico is super fun; Tomas Fernandez kind of put a European twist on the track so it’s a little different. Durango BMX in Durango, Colorado because that’s the track that has built me into the rider I am today. It’s my home track, and the one I spend the most time on and yeah, it’s great.
AN: Is there anything else you would like to tell me?
HR: I would like to announce at this time, I have actually left Pure. I would like to say thank you to Don and Rich over there for everything they did for me, but for the rest of 2020 and 2021 I will be riding for Redman Bikes out of California, USA. Big thanks to Mike Redman.
Anthony J. Nocella II, Ph.D. is a full-time professor at Salt Lake Community College, author of numerous books, trail runner, triathlete, competitive cyclist, and in his free time works at Hangar 15 Bicycles Millcreek.