In the past five years, there has been only one woman to take home the Elite Woman's title from the ABA/USA BMX Grand Nationals: Dominique Daniels. Prior to her five titles, Daniels also took home two amateur titles, giving her seven straight years of taking a title home on Grands weekend.
A feat like that doesn't come easily. Daniels has had her ups and downs in the past, though she has been fortunate to escape any serious injuries. A lot of that can be accredited to her riding style -- Daniels prefers to keep her wheels on the ground rather than in the air. While that style can lead to a lot of harsh criticisms among the critics, at the end of the day she is on the podium collecting title after title.
There is also one more unique aspect about Daniels -- her main sponsor is not a bike company or energy drink. Her main sponsor is the Grand Canyon University in Arizona, and her sponsorship package includes a full scholarship. Daniels is one of the few riders out there to acknowledge that she will have to walk away from BMX some day, and she will have a solid foundation to fall back on. Recently, we caught up with Dominique after she took home her fifth ABA/USA BMX title last weekend in Tulsa.
ESPN.com: Five USA BMX Pro titles in a row is an amazing, unprecedented achievement. How did number five feel as you crossed the line in the final main last week?
Daniels: Relief!!! It has been a long year and I haven't completely healed from recent crashes so I knew I wasn't at the top of my game and I knew the competition would be really tough. I didn't know if I had enough to win because I knew Caroline [Buchanan] really wanted the Cup. It came down to the last gate and I got out good. I didn't fight Alise [Post] for the lead and tried to hold on.
Is anyone in the five more memorable than the others?
Well, your first is always special but I was coming off just winning the am title so as a 15-year-old, I didn't feel the pressure to win. But I remember being so nervous because I got a chance to race my idle Shanaze [Reade]. I figured I would have several other shots at the cup but I won and it was very cool.
It seems that you get a lot of hate for not riding the Supercross series. But at the end of the season, you dominate the USA circuit over and over again. Do you have any plans to mix it up on the international scene?
I still plan to continue training for SX and compete in the Worlds. I will also continue to race Road and Track Cycling and see where that takes me as it relates to the Olympics in Rio in 2016. It's nice to have options.
Over the past five seasons, you have had a number of rivals fighting for the title against you. Who has been the toughest one to hold off until the final gate drop?
They are all tough. Caroline [Buchanan] has been tough the last four years, Brooke [Crain] and I have been battling since we were ams, but Alise [Post] and I have a special level of competition or rivalry. She and I hold the past seven women's pro titles. We will go on for a few more years but we may both be chasing Dani George and Felicia Stancil.
Was there any point along the way where you were worried that someone else might jump in the way of your record making dominance?
I don't know that I have been dominating, because every year it comes down the Grands. All the ladies I have mentioned scare me and if you throw in Mariana Pajon (who I think is the best female BMXer I have ever seen), there won't be enough room on the gate for everyone.
As most of the BMX world knows, you have a pretty amazing deal with Grand Canyon University sponsoring you with a full scholarship for BMX. What does your academic Monday-Friday life look at?
It's busy -- I usually attend school two or three days a week and have homework or study every day. It is challenging but as my dad keeps telling me: "You will get nowhere without an education." I have labs and lectures pretty much like any college student. I just don't get to hang out that much.
How do you find the time to train beyond maintaining your skills?
I really try to keep on a schedule that allows me to train efficiently. I have a speed trainer (Josh Clark) and we train three days a week at Fast Athlete USA, I have s strength trainer at GCU that we hit twice a week, I do sprints and block starts with my dad four days a week, and I train on the SX hill one or two times per week. I also hit the track three times a week and lastly, do gate training at Doug Butcher's house three times a week and jump training with Colby Landin a couple of time a week. When I am traveling a lot, it gets tough but I try to get back on schedule as soon as I can.
Where do you see yourself once school is done and it is time to walk away from your professional BMX career?
I plan to become an officer in the U.S. military and then go into law enforcement or business.
Any changes in your game plan going into this three-month offseason?
No my schedule pretty much doesn't have much room to change but I will do a few more track races and road races and may even try some mountain biking. I really don't have an offseason.
Is there anyone you would like to thank?
I really want to thank my sponsors over the years THE, Chuck Colton from Phantom On Track, SPEED, S&M, ODI, Sinz, Avent-BombShell, Alienation, DFR, but special thanks to Grand Canyon University, Double Cross Bikes, Bike Doctor, Johnson Plates, Bright Ideas, Stiles, Doug Butcher and Industrial Ride Shop, LDC, Chuck and Colby Landin, Keith Baker AD at GCU, Josh Clark at Fast Athlete USA, Todd at Stealth Hubs, Steve at Scottsdale Bikes, Mike Gul, Dominic Therion, Donny Robinson, Sam Cools and John Purse, my mom, Beth and the family, Chandler BMX and Rinni Dyar, and yes, you Charlie. And most important to my dad and God, for without them I would not be here.