Picture this, you're a 12-year-old kid living in a tiny Tasmanian town. That town is Derby, and they're beginning construction on the best mountain biking trails in the world at the top of your street. What do you do? Well, you put down that PlayStation controller and start riding, of course!
It’s hard to miss this young fella’s unmistakable blonde dreadlocked hair, cheeky attitude and likeable demeanour. We assumed Miles was just a local ratbag washing hire bikes for pocket money, but when photos and videos surfaced of this kid shredding the Derby trails with killer skill and speed, we took note.
Watch Miles and Gus ride the new jump trail in Derby, Air-Ya-GArn.
Turns out that Miles Smith is a third generation Derby-Ite, and he didn’t choose mountain biking as such, it came knocking right on his front door. We often say that Derby is the number one success story in Australian mountain biking, but we’re probably referring to the great trails we get to ride, the economic benefit to the region etc, but what about the opportunities it creates for the locals and in particular the younger generation? This is a big success story in its own right.
Only a few short years ago Miles was bashing about the fresh new trails on a clapped out Giant hardtail with Manitou forks that didn’t move much. Fast forward to today, Miles has started college in Launceston and might only be able to ride Derby on the weekends, but as Wyn Masters put it; “He’s well on his way to being Derby’s first pro rider!”
It was Buck at Vertigo that picked up on the potential, the keenness, curiosity. He quickly offered the kid a job at the bike shop one day that his Nan brought him in to buy a Derby t-shirt.
Working at the bike shop in the main street of Derby was where it all started to ramp up, as he washed bikes and fixed stuff, he listened, learnt, and soaked it all up like a sponge. “He’s very easily distracted, and we had to crack the whip to keep him focussed,” Buck says. Though when good riders came to town Miles was all ears and eyes.
Derby was now on the world stage, with people like Wyn Masters, Martin Maes, Nigel Page and Sam Hill in town, it paid to be a frothing grommet, it’s a supportive community that way, it’s natural to lend a hand, and take a junior under your wing.
With the World Trail crew working and living in town, Miles was exposed to some very fine characters and role models, guys like Max Connor, Ryan De La Rue and Rhys Atkinson would have the local grommet join their rides.
I got to know Miles around the start of 2017, when building the EWS trails in Derby. He was hanging around Vertigo, washing bikes after school. He’d join our rides, (more likely try and keep up with us) on his old clapped out Giant Stance. One ride I took him down Detonate the first time, in hindsight, probably a trail that was too advanced for him at the time, his facial expression was ecstatic with the fear, but he showed determination to one day ride it fully.
Fast forward to the Asia Pacific Enduro in November 2018, I watched him smoothly navigate the Big Crack on Detonate with no fear. He’s one stoked kid, willing to try new lines, to throw different shapes of jumps, just wanting to drive and push himself. I just wish I had this opportunity when I grew up” – Max Connor, World Trail Crew.
It’d be intimidating having pro riders walk into your bike shop, Wyn Masters needs little introduction, this man noticed Miles right away.
“I first travelled to Derby in early 2017 to produce a video promoting the upcoming EWS race, and whilst at the Vertigo shop Buck, the unofficial president of Derby introduced me to a young Miles; probably the most stoked kid in town and wheelie’n up and down the Main Street every day living and breathing mountain bikes.
It was rad to go back in November 2018 and see how much Miles had progressed, and then to see him win his category at the Asia Pacific Enduro. He’s well on his way to being Derby’s first pro rider!” – Wyn Masters, GT Factory Racing.
When your tiny Tasmanian town turns into a mountain bike Mecca, many opportunities are laid out in front of you, in this case, a young superstar is fostered and who knows what path it will take him on, certainly a different one to what could have been.
Good story, right?