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From RockShox: Every so often you come across a rider whose style and fluidity on a bike leaves you wondering how they do it. How can someone defy gravity, manifest a physics equation into real life, and navigate the most technical descent – uphill – effortlessly and with the utmost humility? Braydon Bringhurst is one of those riders who leaves us wondering.
Bikes entered Braydon’s life at 7 years old. A Rockhopper specced with 100mm of RockShox squish was the impetus behind a lifelong passion that Braydon would eventually embark on through many twists and turns.
Like many kids his age, BMX bikes introduced Braydon to the world of racing. At 11 years old, he met Mitch Ropelato, who shared a curiosity and propensity for finding gaps and fun lines on the track. Their dads hit it off and together they traveled around Utah to the local races.
“We just loved riding, but we didn’t care about winning. We were the first and last on the track. It was way more about the technical side of riding, jumping doubles, and landing in manuals. We were three years apart, so we never raced against each other. We just enjoyed riding together.”
When Braydon moved to Boise, Idaho, BMX racing became more serious. At 14 years old, Braydon won the first of many National Titles, continuing to travel the country as a sponsored rider for the next four years. During the winters, Braydon transferred his instincts on the BMX bike to the slopes.
“I became a full-blown park rat. I loved the jumps, the spins, the style.” Braydon pursued his passion for freeskiing and eventually became a USASA National Freeski Champion in 2006 and went on to coach at the Olympic Training Center with young kids. In the shoulder seasons, Braydon competed in track and field, specializing in pole vaulting which would later become the ticket to his education at BYU (Brigham Young University).
From the outside looking in, there wasn’t much that Braydon couldn’t do when he set his mind to it. The trifecta of his athleticism – the style, fluidity, and air awareness from skiing; the skills and speed from BMX racing; and the strength and mental focus from pole vaulting – would later set the foundation for Braydon to unearth an unwavering passion and unique approach to mountain biking.
But like most young adults, the question of what you’re going do with your life led Braydon to hang up his bike for a couple of years. School had never been a focus and attending university felt daunting. At 18 years old, he set out on a two-year mission with his church and returned with the realization that he is happiest when helping others. Braydon began coaching an up-and-coming pole vaulter and through the process learned that his own strengths only intensified during the time he spent away. Braydon’s newly achieved 17-foot vault caught the attention of several schools and attending university at BYU became a reality.
“It just felt like that’s the spot I needed to be, but I remember walking around campus thinking I was going to fail. I got tutors and learned how to learn, how to study and excel academically, so I could make it through.” It was here that Braydon crossed paths with Craig Manning, a renowned sports psychologist and author of “The Fearless Mind”. Manning taught Braydon how to compartmentalize, harness his strengths, and unlock the process of setting goals and achieving them. Their brief stint of working together forever changed the way that Braydon approached life.
“I learned that in order to do your best work, you have to love what you do – there’s something about setting a goal, honing in on all of the fine details, and the tenacity to go after them. I started to love the feeling of the process and with vaulting, it was very much focused on you and your own performance. No one else.”
After graduating as an All-American in Track & Field and with a degree in film from BYU in 2016, Braydon picked up his first modern trail bike and immediately texted Mitch to go and ride. Climbing and descending on the homegrown trails of Corner Canyon in Draper, Utah, Braydon found the spark that would light the flame of his mountain bike career.
“Mountain biking felt unreal! Coming from slopestyle skiing, I could get the stoke on the descent and have the mental payoff from the climbs. Mitch taught me so much and to this day, I still run the same set-up he prescribed for brake levers, suspension, and tire pressure.”
Just like reaching the pinnacle of his disciplines in BMX, freestyle skiing, collegiate track and field, running a marathon, and eventually pursuing his MBA (one of his proudest accomplishments to date alongside his family), Braydon applied the same mindset to mountain biking.
What started as a short film in Moab, would later define his riding style – one that flips the perspective of riding a technical descent upside down, finding the flow uphill – smoothly and effortlessly. Bikerbrayd emerged in the social media sphere with a distinct persona that stood out from the constant stream of shreddit content.
“It’s a true expression of how I view mountain biking. I want to take my love for style and fluidity and portray that in the way I ride. Every time I go out and ride, I am once again reminded that I can set a goal and put in the work to achieve it.”
Behind the scenes, Braydon started the Boise Mountain Bike Festival to bring riders together in the community. The role that Braydon has played in community building through bikes has influenced how he produces his own content. “Social media is all too often used to convey an image and lifestyle. Instead, I want to share the message and feeling that you get from being out on your bike in the most authentic way.”
1. a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
While the path that Braydon took to mountain biking today is anything but linear, it’s no wonder that what he is capable of is an amalgamation of his experiences, mindset, and belief in what is possible when you set out to achieve it.
“If I could imagine a ride that I would have the most fun on, it’s going to have a super long, sustained, technical climb. In return, it offers a radical descent with a beautiful view. The massive payoff of terrain and beauty is what I try and showcase in WONDER.”
Grafton Mesa DH in Hurricane, Utah has its own reputation as a highly technical, consequential descent. After riding the loop in January with fellow SRAM and RockShox Ambassador, Nate Hills, Braydon wanted to approach the trail from a different perspective where he finds the dichotomy and beauty that lies within the climb and the descent. The trail may be short in length, but for Braydon, it’s not about the miles. It’s about the challenge that lies in every feature and piecing it all together.
“When I am absolutely pushing my physical limits, there is so much to focus on – where to put power down, when to execute a move, and the bigger goal of climbing the whole trail from bottom to top. You only have so much brainpower and messing with suspension on the ride takes from that. Flight Attendant allows me to maximize my efficiency on the climb and guarantee my bike will be dialed for the gnarliest descent.”
Braydon Bringhurst exemplifies that the needle only moves when you step outside your comfort zone. “This is a light into the future of what mountain bikes are progressing to. Every time something new comes out, it’s always polarizing how expensive it is. But it always trickles down and that technology eventually progresses mountain biking for everyone.”
The craft doesn’t stop with mountain biking. Braydon’s narrative comes through his videos that are self-directed and self-edited. “I get to create what’s originally in my mind from concept to the final product.”
But… you won’t see Braydon’s name in the credits.
“That’s how I want it. I just want people to go out and enjoy mountain biking more than I enjoy it. I get so much personal satisfaction every time I go ride – to climb that mountain, enjoy the descent, and be reminded that you can do hard things and there are good times after. It allows you to show up as the best version of yourself in all other aspects of your life. It’s an amazing metaphor for life – the daily ride.”
Wonder is just the precursor to an even loftier goal that Braydon has been chipping away at for the past year. For now, we’ll just leave you wondering what that will be.
Words by Sarah Rawley.
Photos by Anthony Smith.
Cinematography by Tory Powers.
Film by Burst Media Creative.