In the first of a new feature RetroBikes’s social secretary and resident crash merchant James ‘Hilts’ Freeborough caught up with Mike ‘Ameybrook’ Wilk to find out a little bit of background on one of the Retro brotherhood from the U.S.
Name – Mike Wilk
RetroBike Alter Ego – Ameybrook
Age – 27
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Hi Mike and thanks for being the Guinea Pig in the first of our Ã¢â‚¬ËœRetroBike.co.ukÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ member profiles.
MW Ã¢â‚¬â€œ No problem.
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ First off, why Ã¢â‚¬ËœAmeybrookÃ¢â‚¬â„¢??, you realise that you got some of our brood thinking weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d actually attracted a female member to the site, Jez was about to propose!
MW Ã¢â‚¬â€œ haha, Ã¢â‚¬ËœAmeybrookÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is the name of one of my favorite riding places back east [Ameybrook State Park, Henniker, NH]. When I first started using the Internet back in 1995, I had no ideas for a username and one of the AOL suggestions was Ã¢â‚¬Ëœa favorite place of yours,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ so Ameybrook has stuck with me ever since.
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ So tell us how you first got in to Mountain biking?
MW – I started mountain biking in 1992 when I was 12 years old, my father bought me a Huffy Revolution for Christmas and I rode to and from school. Eventually I took it offroad, and when the local golf course held a race, I decided to enter. Afterwards, I was hooked. Mostly because I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know you could build trails to ride on rather than just bomb through the woods J I raced my Huffy bike all through 1992-93, and that winter I upgraded to a 94 Kona Lava Dome, which began my love affair with bikes and bike parts.
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I believe you did quite well in the races?
MW – Well yeah it turns out I was a pretty good racer. I Won the New England Junior Championship multiple times, was sponsored enough to get free bikes, parts, etc when mtb racing was in its heyday. After high school I moved out west to Durango, Colorado, and I won a slew of collegiate titles with Fort Lewis College. I turned pro in 2000, and I guess my Ã¢â‚¬ËœcareerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ highlighted when I went to Worlds as an Espoir in 2001. I won a lot of races, but never really Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbroke throughÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ so to speak. I still race quite often, and although my license still says pro, I rarely race like oneÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Wow, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s great. Excuse my ignorance but whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an Espoir ?
MW – Espoir is a designation they give to young riders between junior and senior. They also call it Ã¢â‚¬ËœU-23,Ã¢â‚¬? which is under 23 years of age.
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I see, so are you just a Mountain Biker or a general cycling enthusiast?
MW Ã¢â‚¬â€œ IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m into all cycling, I currently do most of my racing on the road. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m on a team with Ned Overend, when he decides to race local anyways. Rubbing elbows with pros and former pros is normality here in Durango though.
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Wow, you ride with my hero, anything you can tell us about Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe LungÃ¢â‚¬â„¢?
MW – No gossip on Ned IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m afraid, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe CaptainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ stays pretty clean.
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ So what are trails like where you regularly ride, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m guessing pretty good?
MW – IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll send you some Ã¢â‚¬ËœDurangoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ trail pictures (below), but anyone could find them by googling the town name! We have some pretty epic stuff here.
Durango = Niiiiice
JF – Tell us a bit about your bike history:
MW Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Well as I mentioned I started out racing on a 1992-93 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Huffy Revolution, I then moved on to a 1994 Kona Lava Dome which was what led me to RetroBike all those months ago, then the list reads as follows ,
1997 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 1995 Kona Hei Hei
1997 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Voodoo Djab
1998 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ K2/Proflex Team
1999 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 2000 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Schwinn Homegrown
2001 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Yeti ARC
2002 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ K2 Zed Team Hardtail
2003 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Present Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 3d Custom
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and what does your current Retro fleet look like?
MW Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I have My 1994 Lava Dome which has been featured in BOTM, and also a 1986 Fat Chance and a 1989 Wicked Fat Chance which are in various stages of building..
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Ok, honestly now are your RetroBikes garage queens or regular rides?
MW – I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t necessarily Ã¢â‚¬ËœrideÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ retro, I ride too fast J However, they are certainly not garage queens. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got enough appreciation from where the technology came from to take them out and ride them easy, and remember how things were BITD. Basically, I only take on a project if it has some sentimental meaning. Biking has taught me more lessons than all the schools IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve gone through, and its nice to invoke memories of flipping through MBAs and savoring over the Ringle parts I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t afford. I like seeing a forgotten, abused frame that would have been lusted over by someone get some TLC so it could live again.
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the drive for a lot of RetroBikers and a noble cause it is too. So whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s next on the Retro front ??
MW – I really donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have any future projectsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦if the price was right and a Breezer popped up, I might take it on, but I need to finish the Wicked first! Having two projects going at the same time is tough. I put a lot of time, effort, and money into them!
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ That sounds a familiar story, I think you share that with everyone else on the site. Thanks for your time Mike and I hope we see you on the UK trails some time in the future!
MW Ã¢â‚¬â€œ No problem, and maybe one day the RetroBike.co.uk meet will take place at DurangoÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
JF Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Now thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an Idea !!!
If you want to ask Mike a question about any of the above you can post it on the thread below.
Note 1 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Mike now works for NASA in their aero-dynamics division, in 2020 he hopes to be the first man to pull a wheelie on the Moon !!
Note 2: If any of the regulars would like to volunteer to be our next highlighted member please PM me (racing prowess is not a requirement.)
Thanks for reading !!!!