High stakes path
BOA Athlete Luca Shaw
Pro Downhill Mountain Bike Rider
US National Champion
Fear is not a word that exists in Luca Shaw's vocabulary. From dodging down trails to riding motocross in the off-season, this pro downhill racer is driven by passion, adrenaline, and a fervent desire to keep pushing past his personal limits.
Photography by Sven Martin, Instagram: @svenmartinphoto
By the time he was fifteen years old, downhill racer Luca Shaw knew he was going to turn his childhood passion into a professional pursuit. “I had only been racing downhill for two years when I placed 3rd at a big junior race in New Jersey. I remember the feeling of surprising myself. That’s when I knew I could go pro and take it further.”
A California native, Luca moved with his family to Hendersonville, North Carolina when he was eight years old. It was on this rugged southeast terrain that Luca quickly found his groove. “I grew up on two wheels. Whether it was dirt bikes or BMX, I was always riding with my brother and dad.”
“I’m very calculated in my approach and sure, sometimes it’s dangerous, but I firmly believe that life begins outside of your comfort zone.”
And while downhill riding is Luca’s key area of focus, his love for any sport on two wheels is palpable. “I grew up watching mountain bike videos and races and I was such a fan — I still am today! During the season, I ride my downhill bike as much as possible. But in the off-season, I do motocross, BMX, and road cycling — basically anything that involves a bike.”
After placing fourth in the 2020 UCI World Cup and first place at the Pro GRT earlier this year, Luca now has his sights set on the first world cup in Leogang, Austria. And for Luca, these races are more than an opportunity to climb the ranks; they provide a backdrop for the intensity and grit that drives him to pursue an unconventional, high-stakes path in the first place.
“I feel the most dialed in when I’m warming up before a race. When I’m at the top of the hill with my mechanic and everything is ready to go. I know my lines and I’m prepared, my bike is ready and I’m just waiting to get it done. It’s definitely an intense moment, and I’m usually pretty nervous but that’s a good sign for me. I try to channel my nerves in the right way and use the adrenaline to focus on what I want to do.”
Luca finds his inspiration in trailblazers across the sports spectrum and hopes to help expand the all mountain community from a niche pursuit into a discipline that’s more readily accessible. “The challenges I’ve encountered through this sport have taught me so much about myself. I feel lucky to have grown up in this world and hope I can inspire more kids to get into mountain biking.”
As Luca prepares for the next season of races, it’s clear he’s hungry, eager, and excited for what lies ahead. “I think you really have to be on top of your game whenever there is an opportunity these days. And I'm continually amazed that I get to ride bikes for a living. The adrenaline and the feeling it gives me is something that I can't compare to anything else. The risk is definitely worth the reward."