Chad Kagy is a real nice guy; in fact, outside of recently joining the Teva team he has many other reasons to be stoked. Kagy’s name is on the tips of tongues everywhere in the freeride mountain biking community and he extends an inspiring hand through Bikes Over Baghdad, a modern take on the classic USO show boosting the spirits of the men and women fighting for our freedom on foreign soils. We get the sense that there isn’t much down time in Kagy’s life but then again it seems he likes it that way balancing a busy travel schedule with family life comfy at home in rural Pennsylvania. His story is truly inspiring and we’re excited to co-write another chapter in his history and ours.
Congratulations on joining the Teva team!
Thank you! I’ve had Teva shoes since the beginning and I tested out a pair from the mountain bike collection when I was at a mountain bike contest earlier this year. I loved them, got a set and we started working together. It’s so cool for me to break new ground with them as Teva supports mountain biking.
So what’s life like in Pennsylvania?
I grew up in Gilroy, CA just a little bit outside San Jose. I moved to Pennsylvania after the skate park I was a part of shut down. I put some things in storage, packed my truck and headed out to Woodward to sort things out and get a little more serious. In the span of three months living out here my competition placings went from consistently top ten to taking second through fifth place. I learned pretty quickly that if I was going to make riding a bike a career this was going to be the place I was going to do it.
Outside of bike life how are you spending your free time?
I have a Harley that my wife Kelly and I cruise around on. I also spend a lot of time with my five year old son who starts school pretty soon here. Outside of family life I’ll ride my dirt bike or race my R6. Photography. Filming. I keep myself pretty busy and really like being involved in the creative side of things. I also work one-on-one with some of the kids at the Woodward camp during the summer.
Things are different in the digital age; in fact, no longer do you have to wait for a magazine spread to come out to get some hype. What an exciting position to be in to oversee your social media content.
It’s crazy how fast things have changed especially with the social media community. It’s so instant and also very interesting and cool. For example, when we were at the contest in Rio all my fans were seeing up-to-the-minute updates and footage from the GoPro I was wearing when I hit the mega ramp. That was posted six hours after I recorded it. It’s pretty wild.
As a result do you feel added pressure now more than ever to push your own boundaries?
Once you succeed there’s always someone following in your footsteps ready to take you down. I’ve always been my worst critic but my level of riding has always remained pretty consistent. To be hard on yourself is part of the recipe for success. Regardless of who is competing against me, I always want to challenge myself.
Can you tell us a little more about your recent trip to Rio?
Rio was a fun, short trip. I flew out on Thursday, landed on Friday and practiced. It got a little windy so we didn’t get in as much practice as we wanted. By 11am on Saturday morning we’d already finished two events—the higher contest and best run on the mega ramp. That was challenging especially at 9:30 in the morning when I’m usually sleeping [laughs]. Sunday morning was the best trick on the jump and best quarter pipe trick. I did a sixty-five foot double back flip on the mega ramp. It was so much fun and something I’d been working on for so long. The last time I tried that I went a little too fast at X-Games last year and ended up breaking my femur.
How on earth do you recover from a broken femur?!
Delicately and also with some brute strength.
Bikes Over Baghdad sounds pretty rewarding. Can you tell us more about how you’re inspiring our troops and the other altruistic initiatives you’re involved with?
We’ve stopped in war zones like Kuwait, Qatar and Baghdad. We’re trying to make it a stateside tour visiting some of the soldiers we’ve already connected with because it’s gone so well. A lot of them want to show their families what we’ve done.
I mentioned earlier that I instruct some of the kids at Woodward. One of our good friends does a lot with Coaches Versus Cancer and I help out with that as well.
What typically goes down at a Bikes Over Baghdad demo?
We’ll fly commercial into Kuwait where a security force picks us up and take us to one of the military bases. We’ve done a handful of demos at the bases and the other locations off-site. We’re given a couple days to adjust, tour the base and figure out what vehicles we want to use in the demo. Oftentimes, we’ll backflip over a tank or a Humvee. Once we decide what we’re going to do we get the wood delivered and go to town building the ramps.
The athletes who aren’t builders will go around and introduce themselves to the various units inviting them to the demo. We’ll sign posters for those who can’t make it and just hang out. It’s interesting to talk to an Apache or Blackhawk helicopter mechanic who has a story just as interesting as ours. As soon as the sun goes down and it cools down we’ll do the demo. Afterwards, they drive the tanks over the ramps so no one gets hurt, give out bikes, GoPro cameras, shirts, stickers and all kinds of stuff. It really cheers everyone up.
Any stand out memories of troops who were bike aficionados?
An amateur who knew one of my fellow riders recognized him and we gave him a bike to ride. None of the other troops out there knew he was a bike rider. He jumped on the bike, hopped over the front of the Humvee, did a tire tap on the quarter pipe by the concrete wall and the whole place erupted! Here was a guy in his full fatigues, boots and everything doing a 360 over the Humvee. Everyone went nuts and it was so cool to witness something like that.
Surely you’re pumped about the rest of 2012. What are you listening to these days?
Funny you should ask! I went on a big GoPro Harley ride to Sturges for Bike Week and I was turned on to some great stuff over that four days. There was some Pink Floyd on my friend’s iPod I’ve never even heard. One song started out with “I’ve got a bike, you can ride it if you like…” [laughs]
— Portrait by Nathan Garrison, Action shot by Jeff Brockmeyer