Wheels Up: Mammoth Lakes Local Riley Mueller Is One of Mountain Bike Racing’s Rising Stars

It’s called the “Life of Reilly,” an ideal life, a comfortable and thoroughly enjoyable way of living. And Mammoth Lakes local Riley Mueller has a life that’s almost the exact embodiment of that expression. 

He has two main passions: Mammoth Lakes and mountain bike racing. And if you ask him, both are ideal and thoroughly enjoyable. “I was born and raised in Mammoth Lakes, and have always been on bikes,” Mueller said, in what I was surprised to learn was his first ever interview. “I started riding at two or three, and I never stopped. My dad [Austria Hof owner Joe Mueller] introduced me to mountain bikes when I was about 10 or 11, and I never stopped riding.”

Mueller, 21, is finishing up his degree in Business at Northern Arizona University, and spending his summer doing an internship with Mammoth Mountain learning the ins and outs of operating one of the country’s top mountain bike parks.

“I started out as a ski racer, but I also grew up in MMSA’s bike park,” he recalled. “There’s a core group of riders and we’ve all known each other for years.” His internship is a perfect environment for him. “I get to ride amazing trails and stay at home,” Mueller enthused. “I’m really enjoying myself this summer.”

Where the rubber meets the … dirt!

In addition to keeping up his degree program, he’s been racing consistently for the past six to seven years, the last three of which have been at the professional level. In 2011, he cleaned up in Mammoth’s Village Championships downhill with a series of top five finishes in the Open class, along with a top 10 finish in the California State Championships (Junior X) – during which he landed a backflip – a second in the Keysville Classic and a first place finish in the Nevada State Championships in the Sport 18 Under category.

The following year, he placed no less than eighth place, logging top finishes at the Village Championships, another second in Keysville and finishing with the leaders at Northstar. By 2013, he was moving into the pros, placing 15th in the Nevada State Championships in his first Pro Race, eighth in the Nevada State Championships (Open Chainless), and dominating his Village Championships appearances.

For Mueller it all started right here. “I love to bike in Mammoth Lakes,” he explained. “There’s this awesome sense of freedom about it. I love finding places to ride and no matter what mood I’m in, if I’m stressed or whatever, all I have to do is get on my bike.

That always makes me happy.” The town, he added, creates an outdoor environment. “Racing is a natural extension of how I was raised.”

A local first and last

Mueller likes that his hometown boasts such a community of world-class athletes. “Those guys are all great ambassadors for our town,” he stated. “It’s something I try to do as well. When I travel, and I see people with Mammoth logo wear, I’ll go over and talk to them.”

One athlete he particularly admires: Skier Cross champion and veteran dirt bike rider John Teller. “I’m just starting in dirt bikes, so I’d love some tips,” Mueller quipped – hint, hint JT. Another athlete he admires is his dad. “He was a great ski racer and got me into riding.”

Mountain bike racing is arguably a tough sport when it comes to making a living, and Mueller is the first to admit that. Still, he’s spending part of his internship plotting his next career move, perhaps taking his racing overseas.

Still, no matter where he goes, Mueller said Mammoth Lakes would always be home. “I love Mammoth Lakes,” he acknowledged. “It’s a small town with great people, very tight knit. It feels like home. It will always be home for me.”

And even if he’s flying high on a bike and in the world sports media reports, expect Mueller to remember where his roots really are. “Don’t worry, even if I’m famous, I’ll still be me,” he quipped.

Riley’s Top Trail Tips

Best Run on MMSA: “For some of my favorite runs on MMSA’s bike park, check out Follow Me, Velocity and Shotgun,” he suggested. “But no matter what, my advice is simple: find a trail that suits you and just have fun on it.”

Andy Geisel

From Central Florida, he started in the film industry in Orlando and later worked in Los Angeles before moving to Mammoth in 2004 for what he and his wife Pamela thought would be a temporary stay. Soon after arriving, however, they decided to call Mammoth home. He started his professional career in Mammoth as a…

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