Some professional athletes are well known and loved by their local community, as well as their broader racing families, while others hang quietly in the team tent. Miranda Miller falls hard into the former camp, and everyone who has met her has only accolades to share about the Kona athlete.
Miller dusted the podium steps alongside DH racing peers like Rachel Atherton and Tahnée Seagrave, throwing herself down World Cup tracks for several years before making the committed switch to enduro in 2019. The U.S. west coaster was experiencing heightened wrist pain from the large drops and yawning gaps included in the World Cup DH courses, and after racing some EWS events in 2018 she noted that enduro felt notably less jarring for those injuries.
The results table speaks to a spectacular season for Miller, who stood on the podium at EWS round 5 in Les Orres, France, placed 11th at the UCI Downhill World Championships, and only fell outside of the top ten in two EWS events for 2019. I recently had the chance to ask her a few questions ahead of the coming 2020 season, and she offered up some insightful wisdom in her responses.
What about gravity racing initially drew you in?
I was drawn to gravity racing because of the precision, speed, and need for perfection. These elements are still what I love most about the sport. Speed is highly addictive, not just the drug, but the feeling of going faster than you did before. The search for perfection is what keeps me motivated and curious. The art of precision challenges your entire being — mind, muscle, and soul.
What were some of the less obvious elements of your DH racing skillset that carried over to enduro?
Growing up racing downhill you’re challenged more technically when it comes to jumps, drops, and high speeds. If any of these are included in an enduro stage — I’m pumped. To the younger riders now I’d recommend not focusing on a single discipline until you’re a Junior (16-18) as it will help develop your skillset. As a downhill racer I actually always enjoyed riding long distances and challenging myself physically so I think that has helped me transition between disciplines.
Are there aspects of DH racing that you miss?
I miss everything about DH racing except for B-practice. That SUCKS. DH is still very much what I love most about the sport but I have always struggled with my confidence; believing I was good enough. When you’re low like this it’s hard to continue to push yourself and take risks, and eventually, it takes a toll on your body and I needed to take a break. The amount of emotional fatigue I felt after a season of racing DH is far harder to recover from than the physical fatigue of an enduro season. This will all change as I do, but at the time I needed a break. I love racing more than anything though and I will continue to push myself, but more on my own terms.
How did your first season on the Kona squad go?
My first year with Kona reignited my love for racing and riding again. Being at a smaller brand with a closer knit group of people has allowed me to showcase my worth and who I truly am. It’s a company that has fun, sticks to their guns, and we were raised in the same terrain.
What advice can you give privateers or junior racers who want to move into the elite level of the EWS? What does it take to make that step?
To move forward from the Junior to the Elite ranks in racing it is going to take perseverance and patience. I think I see riders lose patience easily during this transition phase, expecting greatness almost instantly. Sometimes that happens, but only to a select few. You have to be able to handle defeat and learn from it without getting discouraged. Focus on the process of each practice session and each race, because this is the only way to move forward. Sometimes things are going to suck. Deal with it.
Apart from the full-time job of racing, what else do you do with the Kona brand?
I’m able to help out with product launches, community events and dealer days, etc. I hope that down the line I can help out with more product testing and development.
Which EWS event are you most stoked for on the 2020 calendar and why?
I’d say Chile. Only because I have never been to South America before and I think the mountains in Chile look pretty rad.
Do you prefer to work on your own bike or let the team mechanic handle things? If you dig in, what is your favorite rebuild or maintenance task?
One of the greatest parts of being on a team is to have a mechanic but I do enjoy doing some work myself in the off-season. I really like stripping it down to the frame, replacing the bearings if need be, and cleaning and greasing everything back together. It’s sort of like when you do an oil change in your car. You can’t actually feel the advantage but it’s good for it.
What gets you motivated to train when you don’t feel up to it?
A lack of motivation isn’t something I struggle with. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to listen to myself better when it comes to my limits and sometimes you just need to adjust or change your training for the day. I also know that I will almost always feel better after a session. Movement makes me happy.
Excluding the frame, what’s your favorite component on your Process 153 and why?
My AXS Rockshox Reverb. Up, down with only the click of a button. Life before Reverbs was significantly more annoying — never forget.
Who is your favorite racer to be stuck alongside on a chairlift or shuttle, and what unique qualities do they bring out of you?
I loved the two years I spent with Loic Bruni and Finn Iles as teammates. With Finn we have many similarities in sense of humor although he is far more up to date on pop culture than I am, he keeps me young and challenges me intellectually. I’ve always really valued Bruni’s opinion and quite often he has a different point of view than I do and it helps me think of things in a different way and from a different perspective.
If bikes disappeared from Earth, what would you point all of your time and energy toward?
If I was left bike-less I like to think I’d be a ski racer but I don’t like the cold so that might be unrealistic. I’ve often thought that if I had followed a more academic path I’d be an architect.
You can follow along with Miller’s coming season on her social media and through her EWS athlete page. The first EWS event this season kicks off in Manizales, Columbia on March 28th and 29th, so make sure to tune in to the action.