There might be a day when you drive your car behind a bus, nothing to worry about, empty headed – and suddenly get irritated by a set of ultramarine blue Fe226 running or cycling sportswear fluttering around the back of this bus. Chances are high, that you just follow the tour bus of one of the most influential and biggest punk rock bands of all times. And the flattering kit has just been forgotten by one of their guitar players when they left one venue early morning for another show in a different city.
Mike is a runner
175k – that’s not the distance this bus has to cover between two shows. No. It’s the number of kilometers that Mike Dimkich ran in one week. Mike is a guitar player in Bad Religion – and while being on tour, he runs every freakin’ day! Not a short jog, “Mike The Serb” heads out for at least 20k per day – or more, if his time schedule allows it. Mike was born in California in 1968 and is a remarkably skinny man who used to be a guitarist with, Suckerpunch, Channel 3, The Cult and the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones, currently a member of punk rock heroes Bad Religion and a seriously keen ultra runner and also ultra cyclist.
“As a rock’n’roller you can either decide to get unfit and start drinking or doing drugs – or you can make the best out of these rather boring days on tour”, says Mike while we went out for a 23k run just before their show at Hurricane festival. “I made my decision when I was 22 years old and couldn’t fit into my favorite rock accoutrement back then which was a pair of leather jeans.” It was in 1990, when Mike went out for his first run: “It was awful! I started out with 1 k of running and then I got totally out of breath and was forced to walk.” Ambition awakened!
“I always wanted to become a good musician and picked up guitar when I was 12. I practiced before school from the moment I awoke and until I went to bed. If you want to shine at something, you must have a total obsession. I learnt it from music: you really must practice if you want to be good at it”. So, he ran. And ran. Competed in his first Marathon in 1992. “I had no idea about training or nutrition and bonked pretty badly.” Ambition awakened!
Mikey ran his second. Third…
And then he became an ultra-marathon runner. During the Cult's 2001 tour (Mike was their guitar player, before he joined Bad Religion), he prepared for the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run and squeezed in 80 or more miles a week despite playing gigs, staying up late and having to ride tour buses from one venue to the next. 118 runners started, only 64 of them finished. Mike placed 26th – not a bad number at all, if you ask us. Mike tried to run “at least one Marathon per Year” and amongst numerous other events, he was 1 of only 4 runners to complete the 2002 100 km 'Pier to Peak' run across Los Angeles, his home city.
Soon after this experience Mike started to feel the impact of running so much – and got mentally burned out and injured. So, finally time for some rock’n’roll lifestyle? Sex, drugs, beer and wine?
Mike is a cyclist
Not for Mike the Serb! He started cycling – and jumped in head first: “I always found bike racing super exciting to watch. In terms of suffering and dedication it looked very similar to running. But to me it had far more style and panache!” Mike started riding a road bike and – what a surprise! – he rode longer and longer. And got competitive. For example, he competed at the epic Tour of Two Forests. After 217 miles with more than 12,000 feet of climbing Mike placed 26th (our favorite digits again. On spot, Mike!).
For a few years, Mike occupied a corner inside the bus for running shoes and a road bike, when he replaced Greg Hetson as a new guitar player in Bad Religion. “When I first started touring with them, the other guys (Greg Graffin, Jay Bentley and Brian Baker) watched me get all kitted-up for rides or runs with some bemusement.” At least for one of them this obviously turned into fascination later: Brian Baker got infected by Mike’s obsession and started cycling as well.
Nowadays, Mike uses one of his bikes (he owns a few) when he is at home. And he rides almost every day. “People in my neighborhood know me as a bike rider or runner, most of them have no idea that I am a musician, too.” In fact, Mike is riding, running, or walking to almost all his destinations: “During Covid and the related home schooling period the battery of my car died – I just didn’t use it, when I wasn’t driving my son to school.”
On tour, Mike prefers to run “simply for conveniences sake”. It’s just easier to fit into the daily schedule, especially when Bad Religion is in Europe and mixes club shows and festivals. So, at home the focus is rather on cycling and on tour it’s more running? “While touring I tend to run more depending on location and weather, that’s true. But I still bring a bike whenever it’s possible and do some rides out there when able. Trying to mix that with running and get a few hours of one of the two disciplines every day. Or both.” While touring as well as at home. “I just love to be active. And I believe that as a musician (which is in fact hard work and not only fun and to be cheered on) you must stay fit. Mentally, and physically. If not, your show sucks! And people come there to see you on stage, pay money and of course they expect you to deliver.”
Mike delivers! In endurance sport and music. Every single day. Mike’s lifestyle is like a blueprint for our brand, isn’t it? How can we not love a man like that?
Back to your own little highway story: If you slowly overtake the bus and get to see a well-dressed guy, wearing a scarf: Please smile, wave at him, and say hi from his friends in Fe226.
Listen to Mike Dimkich' music as a guitar player in different bands like Bad Religion, The Cult, Channel 3 or Suckerpunch. Check out our Spotify playlist below:
Also check out our running playlists loaded with punk rock and other motivational music - and made to improve your run by finding a good rhythm around 180 rpm. The rhythm most world class runners are used to run in.
Mike Dimkich is part of our People we admire Blog. Please also have a look into the other great people we feature.