Mike Cottle hits the road

Mike Cottle is planning a ride from Florida to Pennsylvania next spring. Courtesy of Mike Cottle

It's been over a year since Banned's Rickey Bates and Gary Dimartine were killed in an auto accident, but they certainly have not been forgotten. Among several other memorials and jams since the time of their passing, the Banned crew continued on. They released a hard goods line to help honor their legacy. And Rickey's father, Rick Bates started Rickey Bates Banned Together, a non-profit charity that provides underprivileged children with equipment and training to promote bicycle safety.

This weekend, the Banned crew is hosting the Banned In The Backyard jam in Apopka, Fla. And to memorialize Rickey even further, his long time friend, Mike Cottle, will be doing an annual fundraiser bike ride from Florida to Pennsylvania this March to help raise money for Rickey's charity. Recently, I caught up with Cottle to find out more.

ESPN.com: You seem to move back and forth from Florida to Pennsylvania a lot, how come?
Cottle: For my 16th birthday, [Shadow owner] Ron Bonner took me on a road trip to Pittsburgh, Pa. for the South Park Nationals and then to Woodward. I guess you can blame him for my liking to the Pittsburgh area. While I was in Pittsburgh, I got to ride the Push trails for the first time and saw guys like Punjab, Ground Chuck, Kris Bennett, Todd Walkowiak and many more ride. After the national we went to Woodward. The only thing I really remember from Woodward was that it was my birthday and I was riding with Taj [Mihelich] on the dirt jumps. After the session was over, he said, "Man, Mike you were really going high on that hip." I'm pretty sure that was the icing on the cake for getting me stoked on Pa. After that trip, it became a yearly thing, and after I was done with high school in 2001, I made the first move there, and I stayed for about five years. It's crazy to think that riding a little kid's bike could generate so many friends, memories and life changing events.

You'll be moving back to Pa in March, to do this fundraiser ride for Rickey's charity. What made you want to do this?
I decided to move back to Pa. before I decided to ride up. I've always wanted to do some kind of fun, long distance riding/camping trip somewhere, but was never in the position to do so. There are many random, personal reasons I've decided to move back to Pa. -- that really is just my business. What I will tell you is that I just feel a lot happier in Pa. I feel like I'm a better person there. As far as the trip goes, I will be leaving from Out-Spoken Bike Shop in Lake Mary, Fla. and finishing in Pittsburgh, Pa. wherever I'm going to be living. There has been small talk about a few friends meeting me in Maryland and finishing the ride with me, but I would prefer to do most of it on my own. I am currently building a 29er off-road touring bike that is road friendly, with a tow-behind trailer that can hold up to 70 pounds.

That's a long way, how long do you plan on it taking?
The plan is to do 70 miles a day, 35 when I wake up and 35 late afternoon, then set up camp and do it all over again the next day, meaning roughly 20 days. I've never done a long trip like this before, but I've been training and stacking miles to get used to it since August. Yes, I already have the exact route planed out -- it's called the great Allegheny Passage.

How exactly will you raise money while doing this and can other people participate in the ride or contribute to the charity?
I am currently trying to find companies to sponsor the ride by donating per mile and as soon as the site is up and running, people will be able to donate on there and through PayPal.

After you've raised some money for the charity, what will it go towards?
All money raised will go to the Rickey Bates charity that his dad has started, Rickey Bates Banned Together.

I know you and Rickey were close friends. What do you miss most about him?
Just him being around to be honest, Rickey and I hung out more off the bikes than on. Most people in the BMX industry just saw Rickey as a dude that rode street and did it very well. Rickey was the most all-around rider in our scene. The other thing I miss the most about him is him, just being him. Rickey always did things the way he wanted -- he didn't fall into any trends and for sure didn't care what the rest of the world thought about him. More people need to take after that and the world would be a way better place.