By Miranda Miller

Professional. A Pro. This is the achievement for which I spent close to 10 years pushing towards until, when I was 27, this dream came true. I was able to step back from working full time and all the stresses of being a privateer, to focus solely on riding my bike. Yet I struggled to make the transition.

Work had provided a balance in my life and the feeling I had earned my way to the races. I didn’t perform well? Bummer, but that was okay- it was my own dollar that had taken me there. I did well? The reward was even better, because I had to overcome so much! When I reached the next level, I was living, literally, my dream, but with it came the fear of loss – loss of lifestyle and the accompanying loss of ideal. If I wasn’t winning, was it justifiable I spent my time only training and racing? I’m grateful for all the support and friendship from my sponsors. I know that they support me for more than race results, but I wanted to feel that I was offering a return worthy of that support.

Last season I was dissatisfied with my performance and uncomfortable with how I was feeling. I was struggling to put together an entire race day that proved my full potential and capability. The achievement I wanted most, at the end of the day, was to feel I was contributing in a positive way to the sport I loved. I wanted to push and progress as a rider yet I craved new experiences and an opportunity to be creative. I was relying solely on race results to determine my worth and that needed to change. And out of these feelings, DVRGNT Minds was created.

My goal for DVRGNT Minds is to create a space to host experience-driven stories to showcase more from within, and for, the evolving cycling community. DVRGNT Minds will launch with the series, “Here, There, Everywhere” hosted by myself and created by Graeme Meiklejohn, but I hope one day to have built a platform to collaborate with other athletes and creatives. This first season kicks off with the only episode of Here, There, Everywhere to cover an EWS and I couldn’t think of a better place to feature than the first round in Scotland… and I couldn’t think of a better person to do it with than the incredible North Shore Freerider, Caleb Holonko. Who had never raced an EWS…

Innerleithen (or Inners as the locals say) was my favourite venue of 2021. It’s an amazing example of how mountain biking can revive small communities. Take Derby in Tasmania, or even my hometown of Squamish. Mountain biking has pumped up local business revenue and, more importantly, the well-being and health of its community members. Growing up in Squamish and the Sea-to-Sky it isn’t often that you travel to other communities which have an equal enthusiasm for mountain biking. Innerleithen reminded me a lot of old Squamish, when it was smaller and you knew everyone. My town has changed now, and Inners might too, but right now Inners is still a place where everyone stops to say hello and ask, “alright?”
By no longer chasing an entire race series we could arrive early, not with the intention of preparing for the race, but with full enthusiasm and time to get to know the Tweed Valley Locals. Sponsoring a trail day with the Tweed Valley Trail Association and co-hosting a youth coaching day with Dirt School, allowed us to meet the people of the community away from the race venue where there is no time for real exchanges. We met the trail builders responsible for the tracks we race, the locals planning to race themselves, those who were just excited to see Jack (Moir) and Isabeau (Coudourier) ride their favourite tracks and so many kids who are passionate about riding and racing.
Digging with close to 20 volunteers on the TVTA dig day, we worked our way down a popular trail, Flat White. Focusing on a shared task gave rise to easy, natural conversations and really getting to know people. My favourite part of the day was when, as a group, we replaced a terrible flat turn with a berm. The excitement and accomplishment of making one of their go-to trails better to ride, alongside one another was really special to see and share. The whole crew planned it out, moved dirt around and got more and more excited as the turn took form. We prayed for rain so it would keep its shape…

While other racers were walking tracks or resting their legs, Caleb and I worked with Dirt School to host 4 groups of riders aged 10-16. In the morning Dirt School coach Fi and I worked with an all girls group while Caleb and coach Gregor took out a group of boys enthusiastic to learn jumping and scrubbing. In the afternoon, two more groups arrived – many driving from hours away to come ride and learn. EWS had added a kids’ event and it was so fun to see the kids we met earlier in the week tackle a race weekend themselves. Dirt School has an amazing program and to witness one of their coaches, Innes Graham, get on the EWS podium alongside Richie Rude and Jesse Melamed will remain forever a season highlight!.

We attended a Medieval Fayre and watched jousting, were invited to a birthday party with a pig roast and enjoyed an evening in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland. By the time race week arrived I felt I had already won. This was the feeling I had been chasing… So I got to the race weekend knowing I had already accomplished something else. I could relax and really enjoy the privilege of racing. I was coming off an injury. Having torn my rotator cuff and broken my humerus 6 weeks prior, I hadn’t really ridden my mountain bike before arriving in Scotland. It was hard to be strong throughout the race weekend, but I loved every moment of it. The fans were crazy and it felt amazing to be cheered on down the hill. The urge to try and go fast – chasing speed – is just as compelling to me now, as ever before. Caleb demonstrated his versatility and ability to perform and proved there are many parallels between racing at a high level and executing big features and tricks, by completing his first EWS100 race, finishing 15th in a field of nearly 150 riders and even grabbing a stage win!
Thank-you to the town of Innerleithen for welcoming Caleb, Graeme and I so warmly, for sharing your trails with everyone from the EWS and thank-you to all my sponsors who see the value in an alternative program like DVRGNT Minds. Racing can help you find out who you are and how you work. It’s an amazing experience no matter what the outcome is. I finished 17th, which wouldn’t be a result I’d brag about, and one that in the past would carry the feeling of shame, not pride. But that, right there, is proof that the result at the end of the day never tells the whole story.
Photos // Video by Graeme Meiklejohn