Dejay Birtch is not your typical polished and clean-cut cross-country mountain bike racer, but then the world of singlespeed mountain bike racing is a bit more welcoming to a former skate rat who travels races in an RV that's been clapped out from new. Steve Medcroft meets one of the MTB world's great characters.
Dejay Birtch says he grew up in a rural New York town so small there wasn't much to do as a teenager. To satisfy his creative tendencies and the boundless energy of male youth, he took up skateboarding with friends. It was a pastime that let him to skirmishes with local law enforcement (who he says made skateboarding illegal just to keep busy since there was no other crime), adventures into New York city on middle-of-the-night urban jungle skating rampages and, ultimately, to Tucson, Arizona.
In Tucson, he took a job in a local bike shop while trying to piece together enough sponsorship to pursue skateboarding full time. He was introduced to mountain biking by his co-workers but considered his mountain bike something “to get me to the skate spot then home again.”
Fate decided Birtch wasn't going to be a skateboarder though. When Birtch and friends ‘liberated' a fully-rigid Raleigh mountain bike a roommate had left chained to a tree in their backyard by turning into a Singlespeed, Birtch's life took a completely different path than what he imagined for himself as a teenager.