Mykel Larrin "blasted" onto the vert scene a few years ago with a wild card spot for vert on the Dew Tour. In the time since, Larrin has steadily progressed up the vert ladder to become one of a newly emerging breed in vert that is able to combine regular and opposite airs with tailwhips in both directions, calculated vert flow and a healthy attitude on the deck. Earlier this year, Larrin flew to X Games Asia and competed in BMX Vert, ultimately walking away with a fourth place finish. Coming into X Games Los Angeles, Larrin was selected as an alternate in BMX Vert. If anyone drops out of the competition, Larrin will get to ride. If not, he will most certainly be on the side of the ramp, cheering on his friends. Recently, we caught up with Mykel to learn about his background in vert and what it means to be on the deck next to the likes of Bestwick, McCann and Kagy.
ESPN.com: You've always rode a bit of everything but what made you interested in riding and competing in vert?
Larrin: I've always loved charging at ramps from an early age. I remember walking into my home park for the first time and seeing a nine-foot tall quarter pipe there and I was pumped! There was something about going super fast and just having that free time in the air that was addicting. In 2009 I competed in the Gatorade Free Flow Tour for BMX park and was fortunate to make it to finals placing third overall. It was definitely an awesome weekend but what sweetened the deal even more was a wild card spot I received for BMX vert. I was definitely excited at another opportunity to ride. I had only been on a vert ramp about three times in my life previous to that day so I was a bit weary about how it'd go but once I got on the deck, I had a little flashback of walking into my home park for the first time again and I was ready to have some fun! I was super thankful to come away with first. Such a wild weekend filled with nothing but great times with great friends.
Do you think living at Camp Woodward and riding vert with Jamie Bestwick, Chad Kagy, Steve McCann and other pros has helped you progress a lot faster?
Being at Camp Woodward and riding with everyone that lives here has definitely helped my progression ten times fold. It's sweet because on a daily basis we all get together and have fun. That's what truly makes the sessions great. It reminds me of when I was younger and used to have them same sessions at my home park. If I didn't live here, I would definitely still be riding vert but being here and having the guys to send it with does speed up the rate of progression. At the end of the day, we're all just a big band of brothers trying to have a good time on our bikes. That's why I love living out here.
You not only live but you also work at Camp Woodward too. What do you do there exactly?
Working at Camp Woodward is amazing. I initially worked at Lake Owen Camp in Cable, Wis. and made the transfer to Pa. about a year and a half ago. I work with kids doing BMX instruction and I also have the privilege of working alongside Kevin Robinson with the Target Program at camp. Him and I are called the "fun guys" at camp. We make sure the kids that come in are having a great time by hooking them up with some free product from sponsors of camp, having contests throughout the week, and just hanging with the kids. They come to Camp Woodward for an experience and we do everything in our power to assure that it is an awesome one!
You are one of the few emerging riders coming up in the vert scene these days. Why do you think vert struggles to grow and continue to attract new riders as much as the other disciplines of BMX?
Vert is a very delicate discipline. As a rider, it's something that you have to respect just like any other discipline we take on. Add in the speed, height, and transitions of the ramp, and the room for error slims down pretty drastically. A lot of the younger kids see how difficult it is and how long it takes to just get comfortable on the ramp and most say they'd rather try something a bit easier. I believe that it's worth the effort of learning how to ride vert just like anything else though. Its helped me in other disciplines of riding hands down and the best thing of it all is that you get to pin it, going fast and high!
Do you do any special training to prepare for X Games? Are you working on any new tricks?
Any contest that I've ever gone to, it's always been the same concept in my philosophy that it's just another day in the park. I don't take on any special training to prepare for X Games or anything. I feel the best preparation is to simply just ride my bike everyday and everything else will follow accordingly, nothing but a smile on my face.
What do you think about X Games expanding globally next year?
I think the expansion will be an awesome addition. I really hope that it will generate even more momentum for action sports around the world. I always think about how much fun we have day in and day out and I would love for kids in other countries to be able to share that same fun as well. Hopefully this expansion will be able to shed some light to that and keep the fun rolling.
What's on your agenda for the rest of the year?
Aside from working out here at Camp Woodward for the rest of summer, I'll be venturing out for a few contests and later in the season I'll be speaking at some events with a couple demos here and there. Through all of that I'm going to be aiming at having a great time on my bike and enjoying life!