Kayla Hammel - XC MTB/Endurance MTB - Indiana, USA




 Your Age: 26

Your Location (where do you ride mostly): Evansville, Indiana.

Weapon(s) of choice: Trek Procaliber 9.9

What’s an average day for you like? Most days you can find me at the local mountain bike trail at Scales Lake riding a couple of laps.

What is the most difficult part of your activity/sports for a beginner? The easiest? I've always been competitive and a fast learner, so the hardest part for me was not being able to do things that the more seasoned riders were doing. The easiest part was just trying. You can't gain a skill if you don't go for it, and you won't get better if you don't keep doing it.

What is the best and worst thing about being female in your sport? The best part about being a female is that you get to prove the guys wrong when they say a girl can't do something. The worse part is that there aren't many women at races, so a win doesn't always feel like a real win when there are only three or less in your category.

What would you like to see change in your sport to make it better for you and other female athletes? I would like to see more of a presence by women. I think if we just keep showing up and ripping, the stigma will fade faster.

Besides your ability and style factor as an athlete, how would you describe your personal style? I'm really laid back. You can almost always find me in a race t-shirt and yoga pants. I want to be able to easily move when I want to.

What are your favorite brands/designers for your sports apparel and for stepping out? My favorite riding shorts are Shredlys. They always make a statement on the trail. I also love my SheShreds sweats.

Let’s hear your thoughts on how important looking good is to feeling good. “Being” your personal best? I think when you feel confident, you are the best version of yourself.

How dangerous do you really think it is compared to what people do in their regular activities? I know from personal experience that my sport can be extremely dangerous. You can't predict when a crash will happen and you can ride your best and still have an accident. Trees and rocks aren't usually people's concerns when they go for a work out.

I bet in your experience you have seen some crazy crashes. Describe one. I had a crash once where I was on a black diamond trail with a ton of rocks. I was riding a carbon hardtail and had an upcoming race. Because I was thinking of not hurting my bike and being extra careful, I managed to get my front wheel stuck on a rock. When I went to step out, I could only step onto a rock on the ledge. My cleat caused me to slip and my body was thrown from the bike and my face landed on another rock. I managed to not get a broken nose or large cuts that you could see. It felt like I had split open my lips. I managed to get a concussion but with the help of an amazing doctor, I was only out for a week with a migraine. It's the worse crash I have ever had with the luckiest outcome. I even rode another 30 miles after that.

What usually gets people hooked on your activity/sport? I think the feeling of freedom and going fast is what gets people addicted to mountain biking. It's a sport where you can see improvements almost every ride. Oh, you couldn't ride that section of trail last week? This week you have the line figured out and are flying through it. It's an amazing sport to feel and see improvements.

What is your favorite trick? I can't do it every time, but I feel amazing when I get a clean bunny hop in!

Do you own any other toys? I own a road bike for cross training.

What gets you pumped up for the day? Just knowing that I am going to be on a bike at some point makes me so incredibly happy.

What are three things you could not live without? Biking, friends, and my cat.

What are your expectations for this activity/sport? I have big dreams and expectations for mountain biking that include going pro and one day making it to the Olympics.

Who have been your biggest supporters in getting you to where you are now? My biggest supporters have been a couple people in the Evansville Mountain Biking Association, which is my local mountain biking group. I love going to the group rides we have weekly and they have taught me everything I know and have always encouraged me. I wouldn't be the rider I am today without a couple of them.

Who’s your favorite rider/shooter (photo/video)? I could watch Emily Batty or Rachel Atherton. They have real passion and talent an you can see it come out when they race.

What do you do in your spare time when you’re not riding/shooting/competing? If I'm not riding, I might be in the gym swimming or being silly at zumba with friends.

How about in the off season to stay in shape? Gravel riding takes a definite front seat. I like to swim and I think that this winter I am going to hit the rock climbing gym to build up some upper body strength.

What is your biggest goal to accomplish this/next season? Next season I want to work on cutting my time on endurance races and placing high in XC events. Two main events on my schedule are the USAC MTB endurance nationals and the USAC XC MTB nationals. I'm really excited about both of them!

What do you do to prep for a competition? At the start of my race week, I do one hard ride followed by what I call a coffee shop ride. I basically just have a super chill road ride to a local coffee shop and just let my legs spin. I finish off my week with a chill group ride at the local trails. During that week I do a lot of stretching and yoga and eating. I want fresh legs. It took me almost this whole year to realize that your legs need rest if you want to perform well.

What competitions and other awards have you won? Include your non sports accomplishments also. 
-Overall winner of the Southern Five Series Open category
-Overall winner of the Kentucky Point Series

-3rd overall women 19-29 The Snake Creek Gap Time Trial Series
-Chickasaw Trace Classic XC 3rd place cat 2
-Hamilton Creek Time Trial series 3rd overall cat 2
-White Lightning XC 3rd place cat 2
-Montgomery Bell Classic XC 3rd place cat 2
-Ben Hawes XC cat 1 2nd place
-Lock 4 State XC championship 4th place pro/cat 1/cat 2
-Black Bear Rampage 4th place expert 35U
-Cahaba 50 Expert 19-29- 1st place

What’s your favorite “way” to ride? I love a flow trail and hitting jumps and just going for it. It feels fun and fast.

Favorite conditions? A good packed trail is the best. Not too dry and no slick roots.

Where would be your biggest dream place to ride and why? My biggest dream place to ride would be wherever the Olympics are being held at because that means I am riding for team USA.

What song(s) do you listen to while riding that puts you in the zone? I don't listen to music when I ride. I like to hear nature and animals!

What turned you on to your sport? Just wanting to be active again got me to riding a bike!

Any new tricks you’re working on? Nothing specific, just always practicing on everything!

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done in your sport? The coolest thing I have ever done is land any big jump. It is an amazing feeling to be in the air and land like a boss!

If extreme/action sports didn’t exist, what would you be doing with all the free time you’d have? I would be an extreme cat mom if biking didn't exist.

What’s your favorite board/bike/sled to ride and why? I love my XC bike. It is fast and ready to go. But man, I love the feeling of having a fs under me and being able to soak everything up when I am going.

What’s the trick to riding features and not killing yourself? Not having any doubt when you go for it. If you want to do something, it needs to be decided and done before you attempt it. If there is any doubt, you will most likely eat it.

How would you describe your riding style? Crazy.

Favorite drink of choice to refresh yourself after a long day of riding/shooting? I love either having a hard apple cider or a chocolate coconut water.

What do you want to be when you grow up? An Olympic medalist.

Any of your own web pages or social media buttons you want links to?
blog: thesimplethin.blogspot.com