- About Us
Current Location: Keystone, CO
Education: UNC Asheville: Health and Wellness Major, Business MGMT minor
Profession: Mountain bike Trail Builder, Bike Patroller at the Keystone Bike Park
Skittles or M&Ms: M&M’s
How long have you been riding bikes? Since i was a little kid.
How did you get into it, and what is your primary focus now? My Dad got me hooked on bikes when i was a kid. My primary focus now is to ride all of my bikes as much as possible. This season i am planning on racing several Downhill Races in Colorado and making a trip back to North Carolina for the USA Cycling National Championships!
You mention racing as being something that you have focused on more recently. What are some of your best results in that facet of the sport?
5th place 2009 Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships, 4th place at first “Dirty Bird”. I May not have won either race, but i had a fantastic time at these races riding with my friends.
How do you train for riding? What’s an average week for Peter Mills, both on the bike and cross training? The best part about biking to me is how many different things i can do on my bikes. I mix it up as much as possible. whether its all day epic cross country, downhill, dirt jumps, pump track, street, or a local brewery tour. During the last 3-4 years i have struggled with severe lower back problems. My L3-L5 discs are degenerative and compressed. To keep my back in check I have to be very active with stretching and strength training in the gym.
Who are some of your favorite people to ride with? One of the greatest parts about biking for myself is all of the friends that i have made through my travels. There are way too many people to list, but let me give a special shout out to all my boys from the South East and the North East! My buddy Pat Keller is awesome to ride with because he brings a fresh look at things with his Kayak background and never has anything but a smile on his face whenever we go riding. My good friend Andrew Mueller and myself are starting our own trail building company, Elevated Trail Design. Expect to hear more about that later this year.
How do you see where you’re from, the Southeastern US, changing in the future as far as trail building rights go? Can the Southeast become like BC if we all put in the work? I feel that the South East has a fantastic riding scene that can only keep improving. The area is crying out for a ski resort to step up and create a high quality mountain bike park.
What is your favorite trick on the DJ/park bike? 360′s and wallrides
Do you feel as though bike technology has changed the sport over the past few years? How? Components keep getting lighter and suspension technology has improved leaps and bounds. Every year people are going faster and jumping farther.
Is there anybody that you would credit as big influences on your riding? The friends that i have made through riding bikes have shaped my riding in a huge way. Also, i grew up watching Aaron Chase videos.
If you could be riding anywhere in the world RIGHT NOW, where would you be? Whistler B.C., Rays Mountain Bike Park, or Pisgah National Forest!
And lastly check out Peter’s 2009 season:
Thanks Peter, we’ll see you on the trail!
More rider spotlights coming soon…
Ben Friberg just set the 24 hour distance world record for SUP on the Yukon River in Canada! We were honored to be a part of this expedition, and we caught up with Ben for a quick interview about his history in the sport, his monumental feat in the Far North, and his plans for the future…
Hometown: Chattanooga, TN
Education: Business Administration and Jazz Performance, UTK
Profession: Business and Music
Random fact: I was on the first D of Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, Raven Fork
How long have you been paddleboarding? Going on 4 years
How did you get into it, and what is your primary focus now?
I saw a photo of an inflatable sup running a class II rapid. I was
hooked. Primary focus now is flatwater SUP (distance & sprint),
Whitewater SUP, and SUP kiting.
You recently set the 24 hour distance world record for SUP. How long and
how have you been planning and training for this feat?
As soon as I got on SUP designed for distance and speed I realized most
muscles conditioned for kayaking over the past 20 years would translated
perfectly. I just needed to hone a better stroke for it. Now I’m hooked.
I planned the world record mission for somewhere between 8 and 10 months.
Ben about to set a world record.
How far did you end up going?
I traveled 238 miles in 24 hours stand up paddling an 18′ carbon Riviera
404 board. Danny Ching’s personal ride he won the Battle of the Paddle
with last year.
Will Guinness recognize the feat?
I don’t see why they won’t. They liked the mission and told me everything
I need to provide them to receive credit. I also spoke with 2 other world
record setters on the Yukon River and went above what they did to provide
evidence of the mission.
Did you run into any major challenges during that long day that could have
unraveled the attempt?
Yes for sure. We knew there would be hurdles just didn’t know which ones.
12 hours before departure we weren’t sure the boat would be ready. One
headwind lasted 60 miles. I bonked from fatigue during hours 22 and 23.
Given that the power of the mighty Yukon River helped in setting this
milestone, do you think that it helps legitimize the river genre of the
How many critical support people did you have along the way? Anybody
you’d like to give a shout-out to?
4 guys in the support boat.
Michael Tuhu of Skagway, Alaska was instrumental. He kept talking to me
even when I didn’t want to. Forced me to keep eating when I didn’t want
to. Said all the right stuff to keep me motivated. He’s a new “close
friend”. I could go on and on about Michael.
Brandon Ward captured the mission via video and still shots. He’s going
to put together a documentary that I believe will blow the minds of many
in and out of the industry. Probably send a lot of people to the Yukon
chasing the experience alone, maybe even to break the record.
We had two boat pilots Mark and Bob, both Yukon locals. They were helpful
and kept me from making bad decisions at splits in the channel.
What kind of media coverage has this received?
We’ve been fortunate with good coverage. Standup Paddle Magazine is
preparing the main print coverage for the mission. Others who have been a
part of sharing the stoke are: SUPradioshow.com, SUPconnect, SUPthemag,
Men’s Fitness Magazine (Australia), Distressed Mullet, C.B.C.- Canadian
Broadcasting Corp. – they shared the story on TV network, Radio, and
print, Yukon-News (Whitehorse Newspaper), Talk Radio 102.3, Nooga.com,
News Channel 3 (Chattanooga), Chattanooga Times Free Press.
What’s the next step for you on your board?
I’m planning a really sick mission right now that will hopefully take
place June or July 2013. Decent amount of red tape to get through first
so I need to get through some of that before I announce. I will say that
it will be a mission that I “hope” to accomplish in 24 hours but may take
a little longer. I’m already nervous thinking about it. Training will be
as much a part of the journey as the mission itself.
Thanks Ben, and best of luck as your SUP career develops!
Home: Clemson, SC
Profession: Professional Student
Random fact about you: My dad wouldn’t take off my training wheels until I learned to use the toilet.
Steed of Choice?
2011 Specialized Demo8
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Windows down or AC?
Windows down, gotta let my locks breath!
How did you get into biking?
I have always been biking really. I was on a bike from 2 years old and raced a little BMX when I was young but I only started cross country mountain biking when I was 13 with my dad. I got into downhill the day that I went to Clemson Freeride for the first time about 5 months after I started. After that I found that I liked going down way more then going up. Just recently have I started to get back into trail riding because I see that “I go up to go down.”
What draws you to the sport?
I love to go fast and biking is the most fun thing I have ever done. I have met so many new people and met some of my best friends through mountain biking, I don’t know if I could give up the camaraderie that I share with those friends through mountain biking.
What aspects do you like to focus on the most?
I focus on racing, my favorite types of racing is Dual Slalom and Downhill, but most of all I want to focus on beating my brother.
What’s cool about collegiate competition vs. normal races?
This will be my first season of Collegiate Racing for Clemson University. There are several things I love about the Collegiate series that the normal races don’t offer. I like how each Collegiate race is at a different school’s home track every week, which ultimately shows that teams style and track that they prefer. Each team has a different style so all the courses are always so different which shows you who the best overall racers are. This race series is also about the team event, Mountain Biking has never really been about teams but rather about the individual racer. The team event gives you the sense of being on a team and I love that.
Who do you ride with the most?
I ride with my brother, Chris Gragtmans, and my friends Sam Anderson, Chris Annesi, Brandon Blakely, Jt Linville, Trey Cassell, and Garth Maree the most. Sam is one crazy guy, he digs more than he rides but when he rides, I don’t know anyone that rides harder or longer than Sam. Chris Annesi, where to start, he eats more than anyone but is smaller than everyone. Chris is Sam’s roommate and is an awesome videographer and photographer, Sam and Chris are working on a full length video project together called Finding Flow, so far it is looking pretty sweet so check it out! Brandon is in one word, frustrating, he picked up mountain biking a year or so ago but is already insanely fast. Jt Linville and Trey Cassell are the Brevard boys, Trey is now my competition in Collegiate cycling now that he is going to Brevard College to race and I am going to Clemson University. Trey and Jt are two guys that I can count on to ride anything, anytime, and on any bike, about 50 people can attest to that after seeing Jt hit a 30ft Four-Cross stepdown on a 20in. brakeless BMX bike and in a skinsuit. Good times guys! Garth Maree is another good friend I will be going to Clemson with next year, Garth has so much style is basically the craziest dude I have ever met. Next year, Garth and I will be teammates for the Clemson team which will be awesome! And for my brother Chris Gragtmans, what can I say, he’s big, strong, and it’s always a competition, we are always trying to one up or beat each other, but I like it that way.
What are you most proud of in your own riding career?
I am proud of: 1st Place – Junior Exp. – 2010 Clemson Downhill Spring Race, 4th Place – Cat. 1 – 2011 ETSU Race, and 5th Place – Pro Slalom – 2011 Snowshoe Powerade Race #1
What goals do you have for the next couple of years?
I want to be Collegiate National Downhill Champion one day.
What would be your number one rule for riding fast downhill?
There is a very thin line between riding fast and riding dumb, just need to find that line.
Since you’re an East Coast boy, what are some of the best places to ride?
My favorite local spots to ride would be Clemson Freeride and at Sam’s house.
Favorite Places to Ride: Highland Bike Park, Bromont Bike Park, Snowshoe Bike Park, and Pisgah National Forest
Would you like to shout out to any companies or people who have helped you out?
I would like to send a big shout out to Wes Dickson at Sycamore Cycles and to Chris Herndon.
Thanks Nick, catch ya next time! Photos by Will Guthrie and Chris Annesi.
Stay tuned for more rider updates…
Name: Gareth Tate
Age: 31 (wow)
Home: Truckee, CA / Asheville, NC
Profession: Wilderness Medicine Instructor / SWR, Lifeguard, Kayak and Ski Instructor /
Random fact about you: I’m pretty sure I can milk a goat better than you.
What’s your favorite music? Anything that fires me up, mellows me out, or wraps me in
a beautiful memory.
How many days a year (on average) do you spend traveling? Yowzer…uh…a lot. In
2011 I’d say I was on the move for work or play for 200+ days.
During 2011, what were the major countries and states you spent time in? Which of these experiences did you enjoy the most and why? Lets see…I taught and played domestically in several different states this year but mainly up and down California (Malibu, Yosemite, Coloma, Tahoe, Chico, Happy Camp, etc.). Then in late August I was sent to India to teach Wilderness Medicine for 6 weeks. That was followed by a month kayaking trip in Nepal. All my travels this year were rad but India really blew my mind. Take everything you though you knew about what it is to live on planet earth and throw it out. You start from scratch in India. Unbelievable natural beauty,..culture…food…wildlife… and people. If you ever have a chance GO!
What extreme sports do you participate in? Whitewater Creekboating, Backcountry
Skiing, and Mountain Biking are probably the most “extreme” sports I like.
Which sport is your favorite, and why? For me outdoor sports are about trying to
find “the force”. The force, introduced to me by Paul Stamillio, is the manifestation of a
perfect balance between mind and body where after developing the right skill and muscle
memory through practice and devotion all one must do is create s mental image of the
line they want and mind and body transfer that image in to reality effortlessly. Even
if you only feel the force on occasion, the feeling is incredible, and the concept can be
applied to many aspects of life. Which sport is my favorite? Can’t say…each one has it’s own way of delivering beauty, challenge, fitness, community, travel, and great take out beer.
Tell us a bit about your media company, “7 Finger Media” and how it got its name. For me art is about inspiration, motivation, education, and sharing. I’m no musician, I can’t draw or paint, I’ve never built a sculpture, and you don’t ever want to see me dance…but the first time I laid music and video images together to tell the story of an adventure, it felt a little bit like I had created a sort of art…I was stoked. That stoke lasted for a while and so I decided to turn video production in to a “structured hobby” and thus 7 Finger Media was born as an artistic outlet for me to share my adventures and support companies that make the tools I use to get it done out there. The name? Well…a pipe bomb accident I suffered as a teenager left me with only 7 fingers…and that’s kinda unique so I figured why not take advantage of it.
What (if any) obstacles have you overcome following your injury when you were 16? Looking back at the challenges following my accident I can’t come up with nearly as
many as you might imagine. The human mind and body are incredibly resilient and
the truth is that the world breaks everyone in some form at some point. I believe that
most of us are wired to adapt and overcome challenges that the world throws us. After
getting through the painful tissue and bone healing process, one big challenge for me as a teenage boy was adjusting socially to the reality of being visually physically different from my peers. The physical challenges however turned out to go pretty smoothly and to this day they continually force me to approach old and new skills from uncommon angles and new perspectives, I feel this helps me pick up things faster and with more motivation than I would have with the 10 fingers I was born with. People stare sometimes, and shaking hands can be weird for some folks, but I have been able to embrace my injury and now greatly value the way it has helped shape the person I have become. And it’s a sweet ice breaker at parties.
You have created an incredible lifestyle for yourself, what would you recommend to all the aspiring adventurers that are looking to create a similar lifestyle? Hmmm…first of all I can’t sit here and claim that I’ve been able to live like I have with out help from others. My parents are absolutely incredible and have always been super supportive
and encouraging in my pursuits. That said a few tips…get your expenses low, keep your
needs simple (or try at least), be flexible, take chances with new experiences, and make
connections with everyone you meet. Be creative with what you love to do, and look to
build your own niche that gives you what you want from life now…not later…later will
What is the single most influential event or “occurrence” in your life that you would attribute your current lifestyle to? I would have to say it was blowing up my right hand when I was 16. Its given me a deep well of motivation to prove to myself that I can do
anything I put my mind to.
Where do you see yourself in 15 years? Kids? Geeze Nate…uh…I fantasize sometimes
about living on a sailboat, or maybe building a small house in South America
somewhere. My time in India really fired me up to get involved with more international
relief and medical aid too though and I have been invited to go teach first aid and video
production in Afghanistan for 6 weeks this summer so I’ll see where that leads. Bottom
line…who knows where the winds will blow you. Kids? Yes. For sure…I think
I’ve got some growing up to do first, but I get jealous every time I see the look on a proud
Would you like to shout out to any companies or people who have helped you out?
There have been so many awesome people that have inspired me in my life it would be an impossible list to include them all. But my mom and dad are the absolute shit. In each of my favorite sports there is a person that I wanna give props to. Matt Gaudette out in Hood River took me down the Green River for the first time and helped me believe I could paddle class V with only 7 fingers, Paul Stamillio chillin in Asheville, NC for always charging hard with me and showing me what Mt Biking was all about, Paul also introduced me to “the force” as that kid is a true Jedi.
Then there’s Ben Kahn (that guy is all over the place) who taught me the ins and outs of backcountry skiing. Laura Farrell for being one hell of a charge partner, Robby Hogg for encouraging me to make the move to California and welcoming me with open arms. Because of Bryan Owen I have had a relationship with the awesome company Astral Buoyancy for several years now. Astral has been incredibly supportive to me and has been the main motivator for me to keep producing videos. Justin Padjett at Landmark Learning for getting me in to the world of wilderness medicine and setting me up with the coolest job ever.
Anything else you’d like to add?
TerraVida is badass and I am stoked to watch it grow and continue sharing its message and passion with the world.
Thanks Gareth, we’ll see you on a mountain soon!
Photos by: Laura Farrell, Ben Blake, Shanna Carlen, Darin McQuoid and Taylor Samuels,