To say Pat Smage has skills on a bike would be the understatement of the century. The guy is absolutely incredible on anything with wheels and, in our opinion, is one of the most underrated riders in the MTB-trials hybrid category. Pat has 10 National MotoTrials titles to his name and has recently started focusing more heavily on riding his mountain bike. We can't wait to see what he can accomplish in the MTB industry!
Can you give us a brief introduction of who you are and your riding history?
I am a MotoTrials rider with a bicycle addiction! I started out on bicycles though. I was actually almost born on a bike! My mom went into labor while on a bike ride. I don’t remember too much about what age I was when I started riding, but I remember riding around on the farm and on camping trips.
It wasn’t until I was 10 that I got a trials motorcycle and really got hooked on riding bikes. I went to a motorcycle national and learned about the sport, then started riding local events. I also started riding a lot more bicycle trials around that time and that helped develop skills on the motorcycle. I rode some motocross but decided to stay focused on trials. It has taken me all over the world and the skills have transferred between bicycles and motorcycles nicely.
Eventually I got into mountain bikes, mainly just cross country at first. I enjoyed that a lot but then I saw a fatbike. I thought it looked like fun so I picked one of those up and my mountain biking enjoyment went way up since I would ride much more than just the trail. Not too long after that I got hooked up with Fatback. I also picked up a dropper post at the same time and that took my riding fun to the next level. Being able to switch from pedaling mode to trials and jump mode with the touch of a button was amazing. I was really hooked at that point and starting searching out more and more trails to ride during my travels. After a few years of only a fatbike, I started riding a Ghost enduro bike. It has taken some time to get used to but I am having a blast learning what full suspension is good for!
If you had to choose one thing, what gets you out of bed in the morning?
Wheels! I look forward to doing something with wheels every day, and I have enough different kinds of wheels to keep it interesting. Usually, it’s a motorcycle or bicycle, sometimes it’s both. Sometimes it’s even a unicycle.
It’s hard not to notice that you’re incredibly skilled on anything with two wheels. What in your life has influenced your abilities? Sheer determination to improve, or is there someone, or something, that’s been behind your progression as a rider?
I think it is a combination of things. First of all, my family was a huge influence. My mom came from a motorcycle family so she supported it more than most. Being the youngest of 4, I had lots to watch and learn. My dad got us all into bikes and I was always pushing to try to keep up with my brothers in one way or another. Thanks to my Grandparents, we live on a farm and have a woods area set aside for bikes. My dad built quite the trials area in a once rock-free woods. With out that, there is no way I could have made it anywhere near as far as I have. I still spend countless hours out there. He even emptied out a storage shed and filled it with rocks for winter riding. While I had to help out a little bit on the farm, I never had to spend all that much time doing anything else besides school and normal chores, so there was never an excuse not to ride.
Beyond that, I have always had pretty strong desire to improve. Riding has always given me something to work on. Learning is never ending, there is always something to get better at, and I have always wanted to keep progressing no matter what it is that I am doing.
Is there anyone/anything that has had a major influence on your particular riding style?
MotoTrials definitely influences my bicycle riding style the most. I feel like you look at things a bit different being a trials rider. You consider more things to be possible, even if they might not be. I see so many lines while I am on a bicycle and think, well, it would work on a motorcycle, so maybe I can find a way to make it work on bicycle. Being so used to going up difficult obstacles on a motorcycle, I tend to look for the same to challenge myself on a bicycle. I am typically not looking for the smoothest and fastest line, it is often the opposite. I learned and progressed on the motorcycle at the same time as a bicycle, so the styles have blended together a bit.
As far as bicycle riders that influenced my style, when I was young it was a guy named Craig Lee Scott. He did some amazing things on a 20” trials bicycle which is what I spent a lot of time on. I watched his videos a ton and studied his technique since I didn’t have much bicycle trials instruction.
After that, Danny Macaskill inspired me to ride smoother and with more flow. He did tricks I had never seen before mixed in with amazing trials moves. I would try to learn some of those tricks on a bicycle before taking them to a motorcycle. Chris Akrigg is another guy that stood out to me, the power he puts out is incredible, and I loved how solid he made things look by minimizing correction hops.
Has biking helped you in other areas of your life?
Riding kept me out of trouble as I was growing up. There are lots of things I just didn’t do because I would rather be riding. Most kids in my school would go to parties or chase girls, I would go ride instead. I have seen where some of those kids ended up and I know I made the right choice. School was tough for me (probably because I just wanted to ride) but riding was something I could look forward to everyday. I did get made fun of for it at times and I was definitely not one of the cool kids, but I didn’t care because I knew my bike was waiting for me when I got home.
Since then, it has opened me up a bit as a person. During those school years, I didn’t like being around people very much. I just wanted to go ride alone or with a couple friends in the woods. That stayed true for a while growing up, but being in front of crowds while doing shows, meeting people at events, and talking to the camera during videos has forced me to embrace being extroverted a bit and not keep to myself quite as much. It is still a big struggle at times though!
Do you have any moments on a bike/motorcycle that stand out as highlights of your MTB/two wheeled career?
On a bicycle, probably the trip to Iceland with Fatback Bikes. I never thought I would have the opportunity to do something like that, so I couldn’t pass it up. It was a such a cool trip with a huge variety of terrain. From riding under a huge waterfall, to on top of a crashed plane, to taking a heli ride up to a glacier and racing through the ice tunnels… there were so many cool locations and such a variety. Luckily, a lot of it is on film and featured in a movie called “Off the Beaten Path”.
On a motorcycle, probably the 2017 US National Championship. Mostly because I doubted myself so much throughout the year andI was able to put that behind me, work on some issues and make it happen.
And in the middle, one of the coolest bike related moments for me was actually on an electric mtb. I was in Spain for the Trial des Nations and saw Toni Bou (World MotoTrials Champion) riding ebike’s with his teammate Jaime Busto. I stopped to watch and get a shot of him, but he noticed me and asked me to ride with him! I couldn’t turn that down even though I had never really ridden an ebike before. After riding a rock for a minute, he asked me to show him some backwards nose wheelies on a hill. He wanted to learn from me! That was something I’ll never forget. I never thought Toni Bou would be asking me to show him how to do something on two wheels. If it wasn’t on video I don’t think I would believe it myself. Sure, it was not on a trials bike, but I’ll take it, haha. Maybe that is why I still want an ebike!
Where do you see yourself trying to take mountain biking in the future?
I would really like to be more involved in the MTB industry in some way. Whether that is through videos, products, events, shows, races, or something else… I am not really sure. But in time I hope I can figure something out. MotoTrials competition is my main focus right now, so I have had to keep biking from cutting into that. But in the future when the MotoTrials competition side slows down a bit I hope to add in more bicycles.
Have you had any major life changes recently? Or are there any on the horizon?
Moving out and getting married were pretty major! We are in a rental house at the moment, so hopefully we can figure out where to go from here soon. We live right across the street from our riding area, so it would be tough to move any further away. There is so much room for activities!
I have also recently started working for the company I ride for, Ryan Young Products, in the last couple years. I do their social media, work on their website and try to promote their products more than ever. It is great to be involved on the business side and not just the riders side.
We have also gone through some team changes for MotoTrials. While RYP is still a major part of that, Factory One LLC has formed and is taking things to the next level. Some new sponsors including Rich Energy and True PSI have stepped up and supported the team in a big way. This has made it possible for me to continue to travel and make more videos!
Speaking of life changes, we recently stumbled upon a video of your wedding on YouTube where it seems things didn’t exactly go as planned.. Care to walk us through what happened and the thought process behind it?
Well, first of all I should mention I did not want a ceremony, I thought a quick trip to the court house would do. But there were some things Hannah (my wife) really wanted that only a ceremony would provide for her. So we comprised and made it a day to remember! I started throwing ideas at her that I really did not think she would say yes to… Ceremony in the woods on the rocks that we ride on? Sure. Bonfire by the pump track for our reception? Yep. Can our friends bring a mechanical bull? Of course! Can I put the ring on your finger while doing a nose wheelie on my motorcycle? Hmmm, I guess, but we need to practice!
So we practiced a bunch and none of them went nearly as badly as the 2nd attempt during the ceremony. With the rear wheel spinning upon landing and no fingers on the clutch, I fell back and whiskey throttled right into Hannah, knocking her back towards the rocks. Luckily she braced herself and caught the bike enough for it not to hurt that bad. After making sure she was okay and checking where the ring ended up (still made it to her finger), I asked for another try. It can’t go any worse than that right? That seemed to calm the nerves and settle the shaking hands a bit. Luckily, third time was the charm and it went as planned. I think it was a kind of a life lesson for us. Plus, it ended up on Americas funniest Home videos and on a wedding fails video that reached over 100 million views!
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not on the bike?
RC cars! I am pretty addicted to them, mostly off road race vehicles and crawlers. I have a track in my backyard and even put on crawling events in our woods. It may sound funny, but the off road trucks fill the void I have for motocross, and crawling is actually similar to trials. It is nice to have something that I can just do for fun and escape the feeling of constantly needing to improve.
What’s your favorite thing about the MTB community?
The dedication that the MTB community has is probably my favorite thing about it. The amount of volunteer work that people put in is impressive and appreciated. From organizing fun events to building and maintaining trails or raising money, it takes a lot of time and effort to make things happen but people always step up when help is needed.
What’s your favorite thing to do on your bike?
Ride over rocks.
Are you currently working on any projects that you want people to look for in the future?
Well, I have a lot of ideas! Not sure when, or if, some of them will come into play, but I am constantly thinking of videos ideas. There are some in the works, but I don’t want to jinx them from happening, haha. I do plan to keep the videos coming as often as possible though.
On the MotoTrials side, my wife will be filming at all of the National events and I will be editing videos from each round, so check out RYP TV on YouTube if that interests you.
Do you have anyone that you would like to thank for their impact on your life/riding?
Mainly my family. I have learned a lot from each of them and they have always been there for help. Other than that, Brad Baumert and Ryan Young of Ryan Young Products have helped me an incredible amount. They have supported me on the MotoTrials side for a long time, but also helped me with business and life decisions along the way. I couldn’t ask for better mentors. I have my wife to thank as well. We have been together for over 10 years, and she has put up with a lot, that’s for sure. Having that support when things are not going how you want them is very important.
If you want to keep up with Pat on his future rides, be sure to check out his Instagram account and subscribe to him on YouTube! Pat will be competing in the AMA/NATC National MotoTrials Series, as well as the Rich Energy Super Trial Series, and is hoping to ride in some MTB races in 2019.