Mike Mason and the definition of picture-perfect style and extension.
Years ago, I can recall riding with Mike Mason at a small town arena cross race in Red Bluff, Calif. There, for the first time, I witnessed the epic style that is known as ‘Mike Mason.’ FMX was not even considered a sport then, but that didn’t stop Mike from throwing the most ridiculously extended supermans and no-footed can-cans.
Years later, Mike Mason remains one of the most naturally talented and flowing riders in the sport of FMX. His tricks are consistently floaters and always huge. Not only that, Mike is one of the funniest guys in the scene and always looking at the brighter side of things. After jokingly challenging him to a fight at EllisMania (which he declined), I decided that it was time to pay my respects and interview Mike. This is Mike Mason.
ESPN.com: What have you been up to lately?
Mason: Not a whole lot!! Did some Euro shows for a bit and now I am actually at rehearsals for Nuclear Cowboyz!
When did you start riding?
I got my first bike when I was 5. I’m 30 now so that’s a long time of putting helmets on my little bald head.
Did you grow up riding in the desert area of Reno?
Yeah for sure. At my parent’s house, we could ride right out of the driveway and into the hills so me, pops, Dustin Miller, and Brian Foster would always go riding.
Chris TedescoEven upside down, Mike Mason holds onto his style. Bad joke, I know.
How long did you race for?
I raced for about 15 years, got hurt a bit in 2002-2003 and was just over all of it! I was pretty sure I was going to quit, but Dustin Miller gave me one of his old Honda’s and let me move in with him, so that at least kept me on the bike and riding with my friends.
When did you commit to FMX full-time?
2004 was my first full year. I did Marc Burnett’s tour that year as well as some IFMA’s. I was having so much fun riding again, and it was exactly what I needed.
You did a lot of the freestyle half time shows when you raced arena cross. Did you ever think that you could make a living doing tricks back then?
I never once thought that. I did the weakest tricks during arena cross. The guys who were riding contests were doing so much more gnarly things on a bike — I always figured freestyle would just be a hobby.
Is it just a natural instinct to flow like you do, or do you have to work at it?
I’m not sure what it is. I think as a kid I was just such a student of the sport. I would watch McGrath and Matiasevich and just do anything they do, whether it’s the way they jump or how they wore their gear. I was seriously a nerd when it came to moto! I look back now and attribute a lot of what I do on a bike to studying moto as a kid.
Can you describe what’s going through your mind when you’re doing those huge floater tricks like holy mans, rock solids?
The only thing going through my mind is that I want to do this trick bigger and better than anyone. I don’t have much to brag about anymore when it comes to FMX tricks, so the stuff I do I make sure it looks decent.
Chris TedescoPerfect extension at last year’s Salt Lake City Dew Tour stop.
What is your favorite trick to do?
Call me a weirdo but I really like old school Shaolins!
Is there a want in you to make your tricks look really good or is it just you wanting to execute all the steps of a trick perfectly that contribute to you making them look really good?
Yeah, all my tricks that I do, I want to be perfect. To this day I still practice double grabs just to make sure that my legs are as high as they can get. I know it doesn’t seem like I’m motivated, but the fact is I’m just scared of some flip tricks. Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t still ride a lot and critique every aspect of what I do.
Is there one thing you can contribute to your style?
Jeremy McGrath circa 1993. That’s all you need to know!