estate. I went down there and was hooked immediately. I just had to get a bike as soon as possible. Then we heard Farnham was getting a bmx track. We were into it in a big way, but as things went along they gave up, after a year or so I was the only kid at school who rode, man I got some stick! I had already met up with Carl and a couple of other like-minded guys. My schoolwork went down, but I was already devoted to my riding. Most of the guys from that era are on facebook now, it's cool!
Where did you go ride in the beginning?
Canning: Ah we went jumping at Farnham track, there was a cool spot at Ash firing range, I've taken many a rider there and we always had a blast! My best mate at the time was a guy called Dave Munt, he was awesome, he had so much style. We met at the bmx track and since we both had coaster brakes we hit it off immediately haha. I invited him to ride my ramp, then we rode the 5 miles back to his and rode his ramp. We pushed each other hard and started going to as many new places in the south of England as possible. Farnborough halfpipe and kick ramps were cool, but you had to ride and watch everywhere, because if the skaters turned up you could get a board in the head. Over the years they mellowed though haha. Romford, Southsea, Edenbridge and Alton, ah not forgetting our second home of Crawley. Lots of superb mates there!
Were you a fan of Bernie Vincent's quarterpipes?
Canning: Haha, the old twiglet days! Yes I loved some of them. Skyway had a 7ft wide one, which was even more whippy, but once you got used to it, it was fine. When the 12ft ramps came out they were better. Funny I still came off the side of one at the Tizer World Cup, it was a great 12ft carve, up and along haha. When Jason Ellis and I were in the Krone circus we had a Vincent ramp, every new venue was an adventure as we had to set up the ramp before every show on dirt (which was for the animals) and do our 4 !/2 minute routine without testing or practice. I think that's quite an achievement for us in itself,and we didn't even complain ....much! haha Bernie was a decent ramp builder as it happens, and a nice bloke!
When did you get picked up by Skyway?
Canning: That happened in 1986. I was hanging out with Carlo Griggs quite a bit anyway, and I was at every national. At the time ramp and flatland scores were combined, but obviously my flat sucked. I just tried to go as high as I could and make up for my poor flatland scores. I was at a regional competition in Alton, and I found out that Nick Jeffries was off the team. Carlo hinted that I might be in with a chance, but I couldn't even believe it. After the comp Pete Hawkins (Skyway team manager) approached me and offered me a co-sponsorship deal! Wow I was over the moon. 2 weeks later I was promoted to a full deal, as Tony Mackenzie and Damon Nicholls had left the team. I was so proud when I got my shirt with Canning on the back haha. I've still got that shirt but it's a bit small now!
Did you do any shows for them outside of England?
Canning: Unfortunately I didn't, but we did plenty of shows around the UK when they launched m&ms over here we got the contract for the promotion. It was pretty cool. Some of the other guys got to go to sunnier places, but I had a crap job to go to as well!
Who were on Skyway at the same time as you were on?
Canning: When I first joined the team there was Craig Campbell, Billy Stupple, Frazer Campbell, Tony, Damon, Carlo. Later there was Karl Denton, Eric Steele, David Frame, Jason Davies, Steve Geal, Pepe Winder (R.I.P) ah man if I've forgotten anyone sorry!
Did you watch BMX Beat on TV?
Canning: I used to rush back at lunchtime from school, as I'd videoed it. Pepe absolutely ruled. At the time I'd never have believed I'd compete against those guys. It was a great showcase for Bmx Freestyle!
Did you go to any of the Holeshot events?
Canning: I entered all of them. The first time was so nerve wracking haha. I'd just bought a pair of JT wet weather gloves, and sat beside me was Billy Stupple. He asked to borrow my gloves. Of course I said yes because he was a hero of mine... I never did get those gloves back! But I did see them in the next issue of Action Bike. Billy got a cool picture of an air in it haha (Sorry Billy for bringing that up again!). The next Holeshot events I was on Skyway. They were fantastic contests!
Did you ever race BMX?
Canning: I started off racing actually. I got my first bike on the morning of Farnham & Districts' very first race meeting. I guess I raced every meeting and I even went to a few regionals, but unfortunately I didn't have what it takes haha. In fact I wasn't that good at all, but I definitely enjoyed it. While I was on Skyway, I think in '88, I went to a race at Farnham. I was doing quite well until I got taken out on the first berm. That happened in every moto by a guy I used to race against when I first started. I guess I was taught a good lesson! It was great fun though.
How long did your "BMX pro career" last?
Canning: I suppose I quit riding competetively in '95. I carried on riding of course. Did the odd show for TeamExtreme, but I got married in '98 had kids and found it hard to get time to ride.
Good times or waste of time?
Canning: Ah man that's easy. I've had the best of times riding my bike (apart from the obvious additions to my family). In fact, I don't really think of much else. I'd just love to ride properly again!
Was the snap of your femur in Hungary (World's 1992) the worst injury you had?
Canning: In that year it was the worst, particularly since it was on a tailwhip. 2 weeks before I was riding with Gerry Galley at Bracknell halpipe. He was trying no footed cancan 540s, and I was trying no footed candybar tailwhips. Almost got one, and they were about 6ft out. To crash that whip in Hungary was a gutter. A no hander air to face plant at the circus in Amsterdam was quite bad as well. My Moto 5 collapsed and split my jaw down the middle and broke both sides. That was in front of 5,000 people and it was deathly silence until the ring boys carted me off. When they took my helmet off at the hospital my jaw popped out and I looked like a hamster with its mouth stuffed with nuts haha.Fortunately they are the only big breaks I've had. My ankle/foot seems to be the worst. Just a 540 to flat bottom at a Newquay surf show, not broken, but it was very hard to heal!
Do you suffer now from any of the injuries you had as a rider?
Canning: It's that ankle injury, that's stopping me from riding now. I try but any mention of a heavy landing and it puts me out for 3 or 4 weeks. It's very disheartening to be honest. I've seen the doctors on the NHS but they can't seem to help. I guess I'm a bit lame really haha.
Do you follow BMX still?
Canning: I try, but I don't have Sky tv. I may browse online, but I suppose, unless I'm riding, I'll just catch glimpses when I can. I've never really enjoyed going to events unless I'm participating but maybe as I get older I'll try.The new school guys are just incredible, it is just so insane what these guys are doing!
Canning: No, not really, but there is one thing that I may have a kind of regret about. I always believed that you should take any chance you get. In '98 I was offered a job by the GT Europe Team Manager. I'd quit GT UK because we were given the opportunity to go ride in the series of X-Games. I felt I wasn't good enough. I was sick physically of competing, the job in Europe, just doing shows was an offer I couldn't refuse....but I had to. My first daughter was born, and I'd never had anything like that happen to me. I took the father role instead....But maybe I shouldn't have changed myself with that choice, because I should have known that she would love me regardless of who I was and what I did. I will always ponder my choice in that matter. I could be a better father by now!...Hey ho...Do what you can people....
Mike Canning: To all of my mates, those who I haven't seen and heard from..and those who I'm in touch with and those who are no longer with us..We had the best of times guys!