As far back as he can remember, Ty Hathaway’s life has revolved around two wheels. “Well, before I could even walk my parents had me out in the desert and mountains with them at motorcycle events. My father was a large part of the Moto Trials scene back then, so all of us would be out putting on events in the local areas we used to be able to do that stuff in,” he remembers. His family DNA and early passion for the sport gave his parents no choice than to support a career on the bike. Trials led to BMX which then sparked a curiosity for moto.
Hathaway remembers one of his first jobs was sweeping floors for Scotts Performance which allowed him close proximity to the daily operations of a motorcycle shop. From there, he learned how to wrench on suspension and just about everything else that helped him transfer to another full-service establishment in LA. Working there was not only a hands-on experience but also put Hathaway in the sights of a friend who wanted to try his luck at a local California desert race. Anyone that’s bumped bar-to-bar with a hundred other racers after the flag drops, knows how dangerous they are. In fact, even his father’s near-death crash, Ty still pursued the dust and glory of desert racing. Unfortunately, he almost succumbed to a similar fate after wadding up in Mexico while pre-running for the famed Baja 1000 race. Waking up in a San Diego hospital was enough to slow him down for a while and reassess what it meant for his racing career.
Road cycling was the easiest way for him to get back on his feet and he rehabbed his way back on the bike, only this time he prefered pedaling over the twist of the wrist. The cycling world opened up some additional opportunities, especially after meeting Kyle Kelley. Both were feeling entrepreneurial at the time and shared a similar frustration with the vibe of current bike shop culture. “So we decided to open Golden Saddle Cyclery in order to recreate that community feeling we remembered shops having. I never thought it would take off the way it has and dare I say created an entirely new kind and size of community around it,” he adds.
While Hathaway has since relocated to Arizona after a long stint in LA, he’s still a partner in Golden Saddle and sticks to racing enduros on all different types of bikes. For anyone on the outside looking in, it appears he has figured out the perfect balance, so we asked him how he makes it work.
How do you define what you do?
I wouldn’t really know how to define what I do and I think by coming up with something it would put me into some sort of category that I likely wouldn’t fully fit in. I like to do it all! I do so many things and want to do so many things that I’d hate to limit the possibilities with a definition …
What to you is the perfect life/work balance?
Currently I feel like I have a pretty solid balance. I honestly don’t have to do a ton of traditional work in comparison to play and most the play I do is considered my work. It hasn’t always been this way and I know it won’t always be this way either, but right where I am now is pretty solid. Any work that I do for money I can do from anywhere as long as I can find internet every week or so. This really allows me to be out doing the things I want to be doing as often as I used to wish I could be. I think this can also be a tough thing to answer since it can really change with time, priorities, and situations. Ask me again in a few years and I might have a completely different answer for you, I’m making the most of what I can at this moment in time.
How do you personally get close to achieving that balance?
I think I’m doing my best to make careful choices that lead to balance and sustainability and accepting that sometimes I have to give things up in order to be in that position. It really can be glamorous to be out traveling, riding bikes, and letting the wind blow us wherever, whenever, but it also means sacrificing a lot of “normal” things. Although I am a part-owner of a shop and have another job working for Specialized, and Julia works as a barista and ceramicist, we have to live frugally and sometimes our bank accounts are overdrawn. Sometimes things are uncomfortable, but that is something we are willing to endure for the opportunities that we seek. The things we invest in tend to be travel-related, and we live very minimally on the road and at home. This allows us just that much more to keep the gas tank full and ramen in our bowls by the fire.
What does freedom mean to you?
Currently “freedom” to me would be going on a long amazing multi-sport trip somewhere beautiful with Julia and leaving behind our cameras, phones and the need to share the experience with anyone but ourselves. Coming home and not having to edit photos, send them to companies, write a story, or stress about being relevant and worrying if what I’m doing is good enough. I just want to do what I love, with the ones I love, who love to do it too.
What routines do you follow, if any?
Right now we have so many projects, goals, and things going on in general that it’s hard to follow a really consistent routine. Everyday is pretty different and changes in an instant when I run into a snag with one project that will then cause me to move onto another one that’s on the list of to dos. It’s the blessing and the curse of not having a typical nine-to-five job, which in some ways has its appeal when it comes to structure or routine. Luckily, I do pretty well with making things up as I go, so not having a normal routine is working out great right now.
Do you have a favorite morning ritual?
Coffee, for sure coffee. Julia is a badass barista and recently bought a La Marzocco Linea Mini. We plan to use it for a source of income while traveling and at races but for now it’s set up in our house. I have been learning all about making good coffee so that has become my morning ritual for sure. I’m getting really good at making blobs and cloud shapes. I’m hoping the more coffee I make for us the better I’ll get. [Laughs]
What does community mean to you?
To me it’s a network of people you can trust, ask for help, feel safe around, and can learn with. The cycling community can really be all of that! I feel as if I could go almost anywhere in the world and have someone to reach out to for info, riding, or even a place to stay. I feel fortunate to be included in broad spectrum of communities from the shop in LA, to the people I race with all over the world, to the friends I ride with at home. I think social media has also been a helpful tool for helping me meet people no matter what kind of riding they doing. Most recently on our trip to New Zealand, for the NZEnduro, we got connected with a few people in Christchurch through a friend. They gave us a place to build our bikes, store our bike bags, great conversation, printed us stacks of maps of places to see and ride, and let Julia mess around with their espresso machine. It was a great experience and I’m grateful this kind of stuff happens so much when we travel even when it’s not bike-related, and we are always happy to return the favor.
What works best as a pre-race regimen?
I have found the most important thing for me before any kind of race or trip even, is to have a mellow, stress-free morning. Just setting myself up for a relaxed morning with coffee and a solid breakfast is key to a good day. What makes that possible changes depending on where I am and what type of race I am doing, but that is always my goal before a race.
What prompted the move to Arizona?
I met Julia! Julia and I had been dating long distance for almost two years and we were at the point where either she was going to move to LA or I was going to move to Tucson or we could move some other place entirely. I was born and raised in LA and felt like this could be a great time to live somewhere else for a change. Julia thought it could be cool to live in the city but wasn’t totally sold on it. Staying in AZ would allow us to keep our cost of living down which we agreed was important to us so we could spend more time on the road, and we both love the desert! It’s beautiful here; we have snakes wandering through our house, rabbits in our garden, and we live down a dirt road in an cozy adobe house that Julia built with her dad. Tucson is a rad little city with the best tortillas and surrounded by mountains on all four sides. It’s hot as Hades but the summer rains make it worth enduring.
Follow Ty’s adventures on his Instagram and visit Golden Saddle Cyclery.
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