Kayley Burdine has always been around athletics. When the Mobile native wasn’t supporting her Jaguars as a cheerleader at the University of South Alabama, she was playing just about every sport around.
Once she’d finished school, she began her career as a personal fitness trainer. Soon, her private and professional interests crossed paths.
“I hated just running on a treadmill,” Burdine, who graduated from McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, said of her workout routines. “I went to a bicycle shop, and got an entry-level mountain bike to ride to work.”
For fun, she later began to ride trails with friends. They told her she was fast, and suggested she enter a race.
In April 2014, Burdine traveled to Brookhaven, Mississippi, for her first mountain bike race. She finished third.“I am really competitive and I wanted to win, but I was proud to take third,” Burdine said. “I’ve played a lot of sports, but that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
The mountain biking bug bit Burdine. She soon purchased a racing bicycle and hasn’t looked back.
“The first race I was in covered nine miles,” she said. “I had only trained a week for it. I had no idea of what I was getting into.”
Since then, Burdine has competed in almost two dozen races. Since that first outing, she has won every Category 3 race she’s entered. Category 3 is for beginners, while Category 2 is for sports racers and Category 1 is for experts.
“Within my first year, I have climbed into Category 1,” Burdine said. “Most racers don’t move up quite so fast, especially if they have been doing it for only one year.”
Burdine, who works for 1 on 1 Personal Training on Cottage Hill Road, is sponsored by Eastern Shore Cycles in Daphne. She said they help get the bicycle tuned for the races, and work to get her name spread throughout the racing world.
Speaking of her bicycle, Burdine has certainly moved up from her first ride that she spent $500 on in order to ride to work. Her latest model is by the brand Specialized and is called a Stumpjumper. The carbon fiber frame is only 21 pounds.
“It cost me $5,000,” Burdine said. “Some of the professional riders have bikes that cost $10,000.”That might actually be in Burdine’s future. She will soon participate in the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in Mammoth Mountain, California. Her recent victories have earned her enough points to qualify.
“My short-term goal is to go the nationals in July,” Burdine said. According to the USA Cycling website, she is in the Category 2 cross-country division for competitors aged 25 to 29.
“It is pricey going to California,” Burdine said. “I have to fly myself and the bike. This is a very expensive hobby. If anyone wants to help, it would be greatly appreciated.”
For her preparations, Burdine recently competed in two races. She traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee, for a race at Raccoon Mountain, and then to Birmingham’s Oak Mountain State Park for the Bump ’n’ Grind event. She won at both sites.
“The Bump ’n’ Grind is the biggest mountain bike event in Alabama,” Burdine said. She finished in first place in the Category 1 cross-country race and was first overall in the short-track race, in which she out-sprinted a professional rider at the end for the victory.
Burdine has also remained busy helping other local women get involved with mountain biking. Eastern Shore Cycle has just finished hosting an all-girls “ride and learn” event at the University of South Alabama trails.
“We went over basic skills for ladies who are just starting to ride a mountain bike and don’t know exactly what to do,” she said. “Then afterward, we went on a group ride to apply the skills we just learned. We are hoping to have another one of these sometime in the fall to get a lot of ladies motivated and interested in riding more.”
Joining the professional ranks is an option for Burdine. She hopes to make a decision after the trip to California.
“My long-term goal is to turn pro,” she said. “I will evaluate how I did, and then see if I will go to the bigger competitions.
“The pro level is something you have to work your way up to. It is another level of elite riders. All they do is ride and recover. I’m still working a job as a personal trainer.”
But with Burdine’s competitive nature, the dream of turning pro may soon be a reality.
GoDaddy Bowl hosts youth clinic
Local boys and girls aged 5 to 13 are invited to attend the third annual GoDaddy Bowl Youth Football Clinic this Saturday. The free half-day event of skills and drills will be at Mobile Christian School.
Participants will work with University of South Alabama head coach Joey Jones, his staff and student-athletes. The clinic will be from 8 a.m. to noon at the school on Cottage Hill Road. Equipment will be provided, and participants should wear comfortable clothing with tennis shoes or cleats. Lunch will be provided.
Registration closes Thursday at 5 p.m. Participants can sign up at www.GoDaddyBowl.com; click the link “Youth Clinic Registration.” For more information, call the GoDaddy Bowl staff at 251-635-0011.