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In issue 29 of Props video magazine, a 24-year-old Mike "Tag" Tagliavento was interviewed by Steve Crandall in an Ithaca, N.Y. bowling alley. Throughout the course of the interview, Mike bowled a strike, drank beer and asked everyone in the immediate vicinity who Mike Tag was. Interspersed with the interview were riding clips of Mike's burly brand of street and trail riding, including Mike's specialties: double-kinked handrail grinds, icepicks down rails and huge ledge feebles. In the end of the interview, Mike said that he didn't want to say anything and effectively ended the interview.
All that I really learned about Mike Tag from the interview was that he could make dinosaur noises and that he wanted to be a bowler when his days on a BMX bike were over. I had already known about Mike Tag's skills on a bike. After the interview, I immediately became a fan of his unique character.
As the years progressed and I came to know Mike, I learned that Mike would rather let his riding speak for him. But because he was along for the ride on this thing called BMX, and because it afforded him the opportunity to travel throughout the U.S. and Europe on a limited budget in search of bizarre situations, Mike would occasionally let the odd interview slip by. Despite these brief insights, the BMX world learned little about Mike Tag past his awe-inspiring riding. And I always admired that. Clearly, Mike was extremely talented on a BMX bike, and pursuing a new path in BMX that favored video parts over contest placings. (In fact, over ten years later, I still think his "All Time Low" part stands the test of time.) And he wasn't willing to compromise anything about himself to get there.
When Mike was diagnosed with Stage ll Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma last year, every one of us that knew Mike all seemed to say the same thing to each other -- Mike Tag was invincible and he could beat this. For a year, Mike fought the good fight before ultimately succumbing to the illness on Friday the 13th, April 2012. To me though, and to everyone that Mike Tag touched in his 37 years, he remains an invincible force. A force that never compromised who he was and faced every challenge with the utmost bravery. A force that stared down triple kinked handrails with ease. And a force that inspired all of us to be better people.
I'm going to miss the random visits from Mike Tag as he traveled up and down the eastern seaboard. But I'm forever glad I got to know the person behind that bizarre Props interview.