SSHS grad winning big as road racer
November 1, 2015
Steamboat Springs — Tim Mayhew wasn't in a hurry to tell his father, Kevin, that he bought a motorcycle. It wasn't that his father hated motorcycles — he had done some riding back in the day himself — but few parents want to see their children take up a hobby involving so much risk.
"When I bought it I had to hide it from him a little bit, because he told me to never get a street bike, because they are dangerous," Mayhew said. "He didn't even know for probably the first six months I had it."
This was only a couple of years ago for the 29-year-old Mayhew, a 2005 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, whose mother and grandmother still live in the Yampa Valley. He now lives in Broomfield after graduating from Colorado State University with a degree in construction management, and owns Paint Pals, a Fort Collins-based company that specializes in interior and exterior house painting.
While his day job requires some artistry with a brush, his newest hobby is about etching a masterpiece into the pavement of nearby tracks on his 2007 Yamaha YZF-R6. Fairly new to the world of competitive sport bike racing, Mayhew had a surprising 2015 season where he won three championships as part of the Motorcycle Roadracing Association, based out of Denver.
"It still really hasn't hit completely," Mayhew said. "It was my goal at the beginning of the year and I'm super excited I was able to get it. This year I started in first place as well, and that's kind of what lit the fire under my butt to practice and try to get as good as I could."
Mayhew began the season ranked first among novice riders after finishing 11th overall in 2014, his first year competing on the track. The top-10 riders at the end of the season get pushed up to the expert classification, meaning he entered 2015 as the top returning novice not to make the expert field.
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He didn't leave anything to chance this season, however, winning championships in the novice GTU, novice GTO and amateur GTU divisions, as well as a third-place finish in amateur GTO. Beginning in 2016, Mayhew will step full time into the expert class and has high hopes beyond that.
"My overall goal is to get top three next year in my expert classes, which I definitely think is doable," Mayhew said. "I'm running about a top five pace right now with the experts, so I'll definitely need some improvements."
Mayhew's success is surprising, considering his lack of experience on a bike. He did a little dirt bike racing when he was younger — his father, who now lives in California, bought him his first bike about fifth grade — but hadn't ridden since his early teens, until purchasing his Yamaha a few years ago.
That purchase was itself done on a whim, when Mayhew decided to look at motorcycles on Craigslist after suddenly getting the urge to get back on a bike for the first time in more than a decade. He eventually found his current bike for about $5,000, and off he went.
"I got into riding with a bunch of people, and eventually went to the track and kind of got hooked after that," Mayhew said. "They make you go to a school and then they give you a competition race license. So we had a mock race during that, and that was really the first real race I've ever done. … I remember starting in the back of the wave, and it was really fun. First real experience on the track, white knuckles, going as fast as I could the whole time."
In fewer than two years, Mayhew went from intimidated rookie to confident expert and doesn't plan to slow down any time soon. He said competition and practice — the MRA hosts seven events during the summer, all on the Front Range — takes up most of his time outside of work. And considering their amateur status, there is minimal financial support outside of a few minor sponsors.
So, while it is just a hobby, it's a serious one that requires a lot of dedication out of the racers.
"It really comes down to the individual racer having to find their own program and make things happen," Mayhew said. "It's definitely a lot of work and a big commitment."