Australian BMX rider Steve McCann's level of riding has been about as high as the mega ramp over the past year. After taking second overall in BMX vert in the full Dew Tour last season, he repeated his X Games gold in L.A. this year when he landed a no-handed double front flip into a 16-foot double tailwhip in the mega ramp.
Originally starting as a multi-talented park and dirt rider when he went pro in 2000, McCann has geared his focused towards vert and mega in recent years. The Melbourne native also helped Mongoose launch it's first jam competition this past summer, integrating amateurs into a pro competition. He took some time to speak with us about what it's been like making the transition to the different events, how BMX has changed over the years, and what it's like with packs of hungry youngins comin' for the vets' necks.
Interview by Tony Markovich (@T_Marko)
What has your successful past year been like for you?
It’s been pretty exciting. It’s pretty cool what happens and what unfolds, just the confidence that it gives you going into each event. I guess I’ve been here for quite a few years now and it’s fun to start winning and consistently being a contender.
What was it like making the transition from park to vert?
It wasn’t too bad. I definitely had to put in some work. It’s a different type of contest compared to the park events. I enjoyed it, but it’s all bike riding to me. It’s just a new aspect and something that gives you a new draw into what you want to do in the future.
Did you have to take different approaches preparing for competitions?
It’s just a different type of event. You have to change the way you ride a little bit, which has been a big learning curve in my overall riding. It’s also helped me out a lot in mega ramp and mini-mega, the mega 2.0 at the Dew Tour, so it’s been a lot of fun.
What was it like being a part of the first Mongoose event this year?
They are one of my sponsors, so I was one of the team captains in that event. We chose five other guys to ride with us, and it was a team event. I thought it was a really rad and unique idea to import an amateur into the pro contest. That was pretty cool and an awesome experience for somebody that had never been in a pro contest and actually have a proper part. That rider's placing went towards our overall placing, too, so I thought that was cool.
Next year, I’m pretty sure they’ll do it again. It will have a lot more momentum with more people knowing about how it works. People were pretty excited about how it went this year, and they’ve got some big plans for it next year.
What type of bigger plans?
Just a different venue, some different guys and maybe one other event to add to the mix.
What was it like riding with the amateurs?
A lot of those amateurs were really stoked to be a part of that event, so they definitely looked up to some of the big-name guys we had riding there. I think after a while, they got used to us and it was just like riding with the guys.
In your career coming up, did you have any mentors, or do you remember your first moment riding as an amateur with some of the pros?
I remember back in Australia riding with guys that were a lot better than I was. They gave me something to look forward to and to aspire to. Overseas I would be reading the magazines about all the big name pros and I wanted to be like those guys one day. I definitely remember that whole experience. It’s pretty important.
Was Jamie Bestwick one of those people that you looked up to?
What was it like taking him out last year?
That was an interesting experience. It wasn’t really a changing of the guard, but it showed that vert had a very bright future, and then winning in Vegas, too, it just solidified the fact that anybody could win. It wasn’t as dominated as it once was.
I’ve ridden everything now, and I wish I would have focused on one event more than trying to do three events at once.
How has the sport changed since you went pro in 2000?
I don’t think it’s really changed that much. People have gotten a lot better, which has helped the sport grow and it’s also made it harder for people to get to that level. It’s interesting when the really good start working harder, it makes it difficult for people to come up, because they don’t want to let those spots go. We see a huge influx of little kids each year, especially in skateboarding this year. The pros are working twice as hard to make sure those kids aren’t coming in to take their spots. It’s a huge revolving circles, and you need those kids to push the limits. People have gotten a lot more consistent and the tricks have gotten a lot bigger within a run. It’s not just one big trick. You’re doing a trick into your big trick.
How is the sport evolving with these new events and new tricks coming up?
The mini-mega is a great event for the Dew Tour. It’s exciting, brings new guys in and opens it up for different champions.
What have you learned over the years of competition and what do you wish you knew before?
I’ve ridden everything now, and I wish I would have focused on one event more than trying to do three events at once. That’s not really something I learned, I just feel like if I had focused on one thing, I might have had more success at it. That’s why in vert, if something is on the same day, I’m not doing anything else. At this point in my career, I take one thing at a time, instead of trying to do too much.
If you had to pick one, which would you stay in?
Now, I know what I’m doing. Before, I was trying to do vert, park, and dirt. I think I would have picked park and focused on that. I don’t regret it, but the people that win week after week are the guys that ride in one event.
The Dew Tour Toyota City Championships, taking place in San Francisco, October 18-21, air live on NBC on October 20 at 1:30pm ET and on October 21 at 2:00pm ET.