Nate Atkins is a teenaged native of Nelson, British Columbia, who’s storming the mountain bike circuit. He’s come a long way since riding his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bike when he was two.

Last weekend Nate Atkins won the adult division of the Strawberry Ridge Race in Kaslo, British Columbia. His prizes included a stay at the Kaslo Motel, a gift certificate to the local Mexican restaurant and a growler of beer. He promptly gave the beer to his dad because it’s illegal for him to drink it. Atkins is only 15 years old.

Despite his young age, Atkins is making waves in the MTB world. The Nelson, British Columbia, native has been pedalling bikes since he was two years old and started competing when he was in middle school. His first big event was Crankworx in 2015 and last year he took home first place in the 13-16 age category at the Canadian Mountain Bike Downhill Nationals. This year things are looking just as good. He and his brother, Wyatt, who is also a little ripper, placed first in their categories at the Nakusp Marin Wildside Enduro Race and he beat all the adults at the Kaslo race. He says he’s equally comfortable in both DH and enduro disciplines and has started teaching his technical prowess skills as a bike coach working with Travis Hauck. Even in school he’s surrounded by bikes: he’s a member of the LVR Mountain Bike Academy program which teaches all things MTB in the classroom as well as trail building and riding techniques on the trails.

This weekend Atkins will be competing in the BC High School Champs event in Squamish. We caught up with him to find out more about what makes him so darn good on two wheels. A transcription of that interview is below.

Above: photo of Nate when he won the Open Mens 13-16 category at the 2018 Canadian MTB DH Nationals at Panorama last year. Top: photo by Kris Mcmechan.

Hey Nate, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Congrats on all your wins lately. How long have you been riding?

I started pedalling my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bike when I was 2.

Ha! That’s awesome. What got you into it?

My dad really got me into riding at a young age and I’ve always absolutely loved it! I remember when I was about three years old, continuously watching New World Disorder 3, Freewheel Burning and Stripped.

When did you start competing?

I started with the local Fat Tire Fest, but my first big event was at Crankworx 2015. I’ve continued ever since then.

Nate and his younger brother Wyatt.

What’s your preference: enduro or downhill?

I love doing both because there’s such variety between each discipline. One thing that really stands out for me about Enduro is the amount of time on your bike and all the trails you get to ride. The thing that stands out for me about DH is the speed you get to ride and being on the edge for the entire run. They’re both just so much fun!

What’s been one of your favourite races?

I always have such a good time at all the races. One that’s really stood out to me is the National Champs at Panorama but I like all the local events too, especially the Fat Tire Fest and the Beer League Downhills. (My dad drinks the beer for me.)

Nate launches the famous 719 gap at Mountain Station in his hometown of Nelson, BC.

Tell us a funny story from an event you attended?

Every year that my brother and I have competed in the Fox Air DH at Crankworx Whistler we have managed to both have major mechanicals the night before. Usually about 30 minutes before every shop closes. This causes my parents to have substantial freak outs as they run from shop to shop with a case of beer purchasing parts from one and getting them installed at another because each one is so darn busy. It’s quite a gong show but we always manage to figure out a way to get it sorted.

Your brother rides too. Are you guys competitive with each other?

My brother and I definitely have a competitive relationship. We’re always having competitions and racing around in all disciplines of the sport. He sometimes says he’s faster than me but that’s never true…He is very quick though and picking up his pace at a crazy rate with an insane amount of progression each and every ride!

You’re competing at the end of this month in Squamish. What are you looking forward to most?

I’m really, really looking forward to my up-and-coming trip to Squamish! It’s going to be absolutely awesome getting to ride some new trails and racing with amazing riders from all around BC. I’m stoked!

After Squamish, what then?

Just having so much fun at all races and progressing myself as much as possible! I’ll be making it to as many races as I possibly can and continuing to enjoy this incredible sport I love so much!

Thanks for speaking with us, man. We wish you all the best in your racing career. Anything else you’d like to add?

I always want to send a huge thank you to everyone who supports me. Mike Seniuk and everyone at NRG, The Sacred Ride, Kootenay Health Services, Travis Hauck, Al Danks, Tucker Braund, Levi Koroscil, LVR Mountain Bike Team and my rad family!