Riders Series: Payton Ridenour
Its BMX’s turn in our RIDER SERIES with 16-year-old Payton Ridenour who took the win at the Leavenworth Qualifier. P-Nut or as she’s been fondly renamed in the Pinkbike comment section - Payton RideGnar - is all the way from Pennsylvania, USA. She shares victories, crashes, living in Pennsylvania, riders that inspire her, riding a variety of bikes and trying various disciplines, and why the Snoop Dogg quote “I stay ready so I don’t have to get ready” makes a great motto.
What is your name, how old are you and where are you from?
I’m Payton “P-Nut” Ridenour, I’m 16 years old, and I’m from Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
Tell us about where you live. What is your favourite thing about living there?
Living in the northeast, it’s snowy during the winters and hot and humid in the summers. My favourite thing about living in Pennsylvania is the different seasons during the year. When I travel to other places their seasons aren’t near as distinct as at my house. It’s definitely cool living somewhere where you get to experience a little bit of everything year-round.
What is your favourite thing to do where you live? Do you have any hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?
My favourite thing to do where I live is riding my bike, of course! In my spare time, I love to cook, go to amusement parks (Hershey Park especially), and maintain the 600-foot dirt pump track I have in my backyard with my dad. But besides that, riding my bike and training takes up most of my time, and I love every second of it!
Tell us about where you’ve travelled to and what is your favourite place to visit?
I’ve travelled to just about every state in the continental United States since I spend just about the whole year racing nationals, however, I’ve never been anywhere farther than that. Three of my favourite places that I’ve visited are Aspen, Colorado, Salt Lake City, Utah, and most recently Leavenworth, Washington. Anywhere that has big mountains I think is super cool!
What should we know about you?
When it comes to competition, I definitely prefer individual sports rather than team sports. I like to work towards my own goals and experience the rewards of completing them. I feel like it’s so much more rewarding for me to know that all the work I put in pays off in the end.
Tell us about your riding and your bike...
Well, I usually start by putting my hands on my handlebars and my feet on the pedals and then I can start going from there, haha! I absolutely love riding any kind of bike! I have raced a few cross races, which totally kicked my butt haha! I ride cross country mountain bike trails with my dad a lot during the offseason, and I have raced a few dual slaloms which really suit my riding style. I have a pump track in my backyard that I ride and maintain with my dad during the summer and fall as well. I try to ride trails as much as I can too at Catty Woods. And besides all that, I race BMX full time on the national scene and try to fit in all the other types of riding between that.
Do you remember the first time you got on a bike?
The first time I learned to ride a bike without training wheels was with my dad when I was four years old in the school parking lot on a 16” Haro with a freewheel. When I was five, my dad introduced me to racing and took me to the local BMX track since he used to do it when he was younger. Ever since then, I’ve been racing for eleven years straight and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it!
What has been the biggest challenge on your journey?
I would say the biggest challenge on my journey is being able to overcome the mental challenges. Whether it’s hitting a jump for the first time or being confident executing your laps with people right next to you is a huge mental game. I think that in order to be successful with anything you need to believe in your goals and be more mentally strong to overcome the challenges.
Tell us about your worst crash. And your best victory moment.
My worst crash last year was in Louisville, Kentucky where I got cut off mid-air on the first supercross jump in practice. The guy’s back wheel hit my front wheel and I crashed pretty hard and was out for like a month with crazy whiplash. And my best victory moment is definitely my first race back after that crash at the Grand Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I had a perfect lap in the final race and won the National #1 Amateur Girl title. It was a win that put my name down in the records books in BMX history, and it was the most amazing moment of my racing career yet!
Have you ever felt like giving up? What kept you going?
I have never felt like giving up! I love racing my bike and the feeling of competition. I race my bike because it’s fun and I enjoy every moment of it. If it’s not fun, then there’s no point in trying to make yourself do something you don’t believe in.
What routine do you have when it comes to training? Do you have any tips?
For training, I usually do sprints and go to the gym three times a week, and in between, I ride as much as I can. I always mix up my training though, to keep it fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re not gonna be motivated to achieve your goals. And at that point, you’re not going to perform well if you’re not enjoying every step of the process.
Do you have a motto? Something that you remember daily that keeps you motivated.
One motto that I always remember is to believe in myself. Without confidence, everything is ten times harder and not fun. As long as I can believe I can achieve one of my goals, I work towards it and am always motivated to keep raising the bar in cycling. My second motto is from Snoop Dogg: “I stay ready so I don’t have to get ready”, haha.
Do you have any role models that inspire you to carry on?
One person that inspires me is Alise Post. She’s always raising the bar in BMX and even though she’s usually on top, that doesn’t stop her from working harder than everyone else to continue being the best. Another rider that inspires me is BMX legend Kim Hyashi who set the pace and inspired all women to be as rad in BMX as they are today!
What made you decide to compete in the Red Bull Pump Track World Championship?
I’ve ridden the Velosolutions Pump Track in North Carolina a few times and I was actually pretty fast on it. Right, when I turned off the aeroplane mode on my phone I saw there was a qualifier posted at that same one I’ve practised it, but Washington was way worth the trip! With BMX racing as a background, I feel like I can adapt to any kind of riding style with a little practice. I felt like I would have a pretty good chance at qualifying and there was only one qualifier in the U.S. at the time, so I took the long 6-hour flight and 3-hour drive out to Leavenworth, Washington. It was a super cool place to visit and I was beyond stoked that I won, especially with all the effort it took to get out there!
How do you feel about the Final and representing your country?
I’m super stoked to go to the final and represent the U.S! I’ve raced the UCI BMX world championships for the first time in 2017 when they came to the U.S. and I got second. It was definitely a completely different scene than I was used to and all the riders there were talented. I feel like the Pump Track World Championships are going to be like the same environment as my first worlds were, and I couldn’t be more excited!
What would you do to celebrate if you win?
If I won, I would celebrate by going somewhere cool like an island maybe haha. Definitely somewhere warm with the fam and some party-rocking.