Spotlight: Heather Munive

Friday, April 5, 2019

In today's society, we're taught to get a secure job, something safe that will set you up in life, but a lot like most Disney movies, they never show what happens after Cinderella gets married. Heather left a full-time job in pursuit of happiness, and it turned out pretty well. In this interview, we learn about how Heather went from quitting bikes, living a typical adult life to leaving a full-time job to ride bikes as a professional. Keep reading.

For those of us who don’t know, how were you introduced to BMX?

When I was young I used to spend every summer vacation in Ecuador. I grew up watching my cousins race BMX while I visited them there.  When I was about 10 years old, I came back home from summer vacation and I was ready for my own BMX race bike.  I asked my dad if I could start racing.  He was nervous but excited for me to partake in a new sport.  We went to our local shop, IC Bikes, we purchased a mini Redline, Odyssey Race kit with a matching full face helmet and some fresh Airwalk shoes.  I was race ready!

When you had your injury at 11 years old, and you decided to leave BMX, did you ride at all during that time or did you stop completely? What influenced that decision to just leave completely?

Unfortunately, I broke my arm riding my bike. It was a pretty bad break. So I was forced to be off the bike for about 2-3 months.  I wasn’t into racing much after that and focused on soccer instead, which I played throughout college.

When you decided to quit your job, did you have any moments where you said … oh shit maybe I shouldn’t have? Do you have any tips or guidance for someone who is scared and is thinking of doing the same?

Yes, my initial thought of leaving a steady job for a dream or a passion for riding bikes was scary.  I was scared to leave a great career with a great income and an opportunity for more growth within the industry.  I graduated college 9 days before turning 21 and landed this great job as a marketing sales manager for an aviation company in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I knew from there on I was set and life was good. But my days at work made me realize that there had to be more to life and that I was missing something. I felt my dream was calling me and I decided to leave that job at age 24 to pursue biking.  I also went through a bit of a rough patch during these years with my Mom being diagnosed with cancer and watching her fight for her life. It just made me view my own life in a whole different way.  My Mom is doing great now.  She is cancer free and continuing to take good care of herself.

I wanted to experience more of the world. I wanted to travel, meet new people, set new goals, and achieve things that pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I figured leaving a job as secure as the one that I had was a great start to taking chances. I constantly told myself that life is beautiful and made up of so many different things and can lead us to so many different experiences.  It's all on us how we live and what we do.  I knew the job would always be there, but the chance to quit my job and move my life out to California could only be done then at that moment, so I did it. And it has been one of the greatest decisions of my life!

I can completely relate to your story of wanting more from life and returning to bikes after a long hiatus  - I also quit a corporate job at 24 and learned to love bikes again.  However, my transition back to bikes wasn’t instant, it took me a while to learn how to ride a bike again, so I’m curious to know what your transition back to bikes was like, and was it BMX or MTB first?

That is awesome! I am happy to hear you also took a risk and pursued something that you were truly passionate about.

When I was 24 I wanted to get back into some kind of sport and I always had a passion for bikes.  I would ride MTB in New Jersey with my uncle, who was heavily into racing XC and other local road races.  Any chance I had in visiting him we would ride and I grew a passion for the sport.  But living in Florida there weren't many mountains so the next best choice was getting back into BMX. I really did enjoy it as well and started racing local races and later found myself at nationals and “the greatest race on earth” Grands in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am a huge fan of competitive sports and the feeling of being able to race girls from all around the country had me wanting more. Brian Fell at the time was a team manager for MEGA Designs/DK Bikes and he took me under his wing and had me competing at lots of BMX races. Later, he introduced me to the owner of DK/Airborne Bicycles and from there I started racing a few enduro races and immediately got hooked. At this point, I was racing both BMX and MTB.

Although, for me, it wasn’t that easy to just hop back on the bikes again after such a long time too.  I did find myself struggling a bit with riding but in my opinion, MTB was a lot easier for me to pick back up compared to BMX. After a few rides on the trails, everything started to click again. But for BMX I was most certainly a new rider, I had to learn the basics and keep on practicing.   Don’t get me wrong I am still learning every day more and more skills on my big bikes as well but for the most part getting back on the bike and feeling that adrenaline rush of excitement cruising down the trails or track was the best feeling and only had me wanting to practice more.

Upon your return, how soon after did you start competing and what are some key moments of your career so far in bikes?

As soon as I bought a BMX bike, I began to race a few nationals and the full Florida state series. A few years later I found myself qualifying for the world championships for BMX. It was such a personal accomplishment to just have made it. I raced and unfortunately got out in the semi-finals but was so happy regardless.

My first mountain bike race was the Keystone Colorado Big Mountain Enduro. I raced the amateur class and placed third. I ended up racing the full series that year and ended up with 3rd overall. That same year I went to my first Sea Otter Classic and raced the enduro and DH as well.  For DH I finished 3rd. I was excited to see myself take part in these events and I wanted to continue. At this point, I was racing a lot of enduro races which I loved but the following year a good friend Aaron Gwin invited me out to the Southridge Winter Series in Fontana to race DH.  I raced on my enduro bike and absolutely loved it! After a few races I ended up getting a full DH bike and from then on DH was what I really wanted to start racing.

In 2017, I turned pro and raced a few stops for the Pro GRT DH series one at Mountain Creek and Mammoth and managed to snag a podium spot at both!

I can’t wait to race the full Pro GRT series, Sea Otter, US Open, national champs along with a few other big races as well this year. I'm motivated like never before to reach some more personal goals and achievements this year!

Other than the hiatus you had when you left racing from 11 - 23 years old, “ghost.lemone” wants to know what was the longest hiatus you had due to injury?

Thankfully the only injury I had was breaking my arm when I was young. I've had to deal with broken ribs a lot throughout the years but I rode through it.

Between BMX and MTB do you find that the two help each other in any way? I personally found my reaction time improve when going from MTB to BMX.

I strongly believe that having a BMX background can only help improve skills on the MTB! BMX has no suspension and is a lot smaller so I found myself struggling a bit. But once you get over the size difference going from BMX with no suspension and hopping onto the big bike with suspension and applying your BMX skills feels great. I think riding trail helps boost endurance for the track as well.  To be honest, riding both bikes can only help improve skills overall.

Does the training in the gym change at all between competing in BMX or MTB?

Yes, BMX training is more explosive and I do have my heavy blocks to build a stronger base. But for the most part, I try and keep it similar and helpful for both disciplines.  I have been working with Kurt Pickard @Kurtscorner for the past two years. I believe in his training and most importantly he understands what needs to be done to focus on both BMX and MTB.

Rachel Strait wants to know (I’m pretty sure this is a joke question) How much can you squat with a booty like that girl??

HAHAHA Maaahhh girl Rachel Strait! She knows what it takes to keep this booty strong.  I can squat a good 205 lbs.

For MTB, I’ve been blessed to ride at both Whistler and Highland Mountain Bike Park, but I’m sure there are some way sicker places that you could recommend?

Those are two places I haven’t ridden yet, but this year hopefully I will be able to.  Honestly, one of my favorite mountains is Mountain Creek in New Jersey. It's kind of a second home to me over the summer, I love the trails and everyone there!  Keystone, Colorado is also one of my all time favorites as well. That was one of the first mountains I ever raced on and I was hooked!

For BMX, where’s your favorite track or a track you wish you could ride at every day?

I have been pretty fortunate to live close to Chula Vista BMX out at the Olympic Training Center. It is definitely a very technical track, but to be able to ride it all year round has been great.

Who are your sponsors today?

Big News: I have been riding for Airborne/DK Factory team for the past three years and they have been some of the best years of my life.  I cannot thank everyone at Airborne/DK headquarters enough for everything they have done and for all the support and positive vibes throughout the years.  It has been a blessing to be a part of their team! The bikes are great and as far as BMX goes I'll continue riding a DK frame for as long as I can ride!

BUT for 2019, it's time I move forward with another bike brand.  I am over the moon with excitement to share with everyone that this year, I will be riding for Liv Cycling. I am so happy to represent such an amazing brand that stands behind women's cycling. Keep an eye out for a lot of upcoming all-girl rides with me and some fun events.

Michael David Winery / Cranked Naturals are one of my main sponsors this year as well. I can’t thank them enough for the support and the belief they have in me.  Who doesn’t like a nice glass of wine with a delightful dinner after a hard week of training! They also put on a few great bikes and wine rides together throughout the year.  Be sure to check them out online or Instagram.

Shout out to Kenda Tire for the support! They have such a wide variety of trustworthy tires for all types of disciplines. Proud to be a part of the Kenda Tire family!

Also big thanks to these brands for always supporting me as well!

Where to follow Heather

Instagram @HeatherMunive

Be sure to subscribe to my new Youtube Channel Heather Munive, I will be posting a lot more videos on here this year as well. 

1 comment:

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