Professional bike mechanic and aspiring writer
Track: 15yrs on and off
BMX: never really, I owned one at college but never really got past the smashing my shins in stage!
A summary of your riding style in three words:
While you sleep
They tick all the boxes. They keep us fit but are faster than walking, easy to understand, easy to maintain, something for everyone.
What type of bike got you into riding:
A mountain bike got me out there and the things I saw on those first few rides captured my imagination and won my heart
First memory of riding:
Being taught how to ride by my parents on the side of a grass covered hill
When or how did you realise riding bikes was the path for you:
Some night in the Winter ‘93. I was in a nightclub at the time and all of us were doing the usual student thing and getting hammered. I was watching a load of the girls dancing and thought to myself “what the hell am I doing here?”. I got up, walked out, walked home, put on my bike kit and a load of other warm clothes, filled up my camelbak with water and wobbled round the streets with crap lights on my bike for a couple of hours! I’ve been riding consistently ever since and I can count the number of times I’ve been clubbing on the fingers of one hand!
What do you get from riding or racing:
Energy, peace, time to think, time alone, time with friends, some of the best times of my life.
We belong in the dirt! It teaches us the true meaning of bike handling.
Because it is so wrong that it’s right! Everyone can play and the best man wins.
It teaches us speed and it allows us to train properly which compliments all other disciplines of riding.
It teaches spacial awareness and how to judge distance and speed
Because you don’t like your shins? Because the skills you gain if you are brave enough to persist can help you take any type of cycling to a new level.
What makes you want to try other forms of cycling:
All bikes are equal and all will compliment the cycling you love in some way
Is there any you’re itching to try:
I’d like to think that I’ve tried them all but if anyone knows better then give me a call and I’ll be there.
Riding and racing history:
Did my first race in 1993 and was hooked from that day onwards. Got my Elite licence in ‘97 and held onto it for the next six years. My best UK XC ranking was 10th in ‘98. Quit my job in 2000 and went to race in New Zealand and Australia for a couple of seasons (for Cannondale Australia and Adidas Eyewear) before returning to the UK and switching from XC to enduro. Won Dusk ’til Dawn 12 Hour solo in ‘03, Started the Extreme Endurance race team in ‘04. Won the Masters title at the 24 hours of Adrenalin Solo World Championships in ‘05. Won Spain 24 Hour in ‘06 and then the Bontrager 24 Hour in ‘07. Broke the South Downs Double record and changed the way all subsequent record attempts would be undertaken by going “unsupported” and then retired from racing in ‘08. Started the Seven Deadly Spins project – a series of seven ultra endurance epics – in ‘09. Made a come-back to racing, won the Bristol 6 Hour and the Torchbearer 12 Hour in 2010 whilst simultaneously making a film about endurance mountain biking with Reset Films, writing a book about my biking adventures and completing my Seven Deadly Spins project by riding 626 miles in 6 days on the X1 offroad route across the UK.
Best bicycle moments:
Seeing anyone I have coached, taught skills to or run a pit for reap the rewards for all their hard work and effort. To name just a few: Being there when Ant White crossed the line and then lifting him onto our shoulders the first time he won Mountain Mayhem solo. Seeing Kate Chappel and Fi Spotswood stand on the podium at Mountain Mayhem after they had trained and raced so hard to get there. Helping James Leavesley to his first 24 solo win at Strathpuffer and seeing the joy on his face. Looking after the pit for Josh Ibbett and Dave Buchanan for 24 hours as then raced to 1st and 2nd solo at Relentless.
Worst bicycle moments:
The politics and the nonsense that really have no place in a beautiful sport. Like when you find out that someone is bad-mouthing you to your peers when they don’t know the facts and have clearly just got a problem with you. It shouldn’t be that difficult to be nice to people and just talk to someone and sort it out.
What do you hate about bicycles:
How would you change the bike world to suit you:
I’d make the UK media more accepting of racers and in particular individuals. I don’t think we should portray a blanket image to the masses that is always the same. Riders shouldn’t be shunned for wearing lycra any more than they should be for wearing baggies.
What bike races inspire you:
All bike racing excites me to be honest. If it’s got two wheels then I’m up for watching. I love the kids races because you see a bit of everything, some are stoked, some are having fun, some are super pumped and racing their arses off! Pro cross racing on the continent has to be witnessed first hand to be believed, as does Paris Roubaix. I love it all.
Whose the rider or riders who made you think that bike riding really is the best thing in the world:
Tinker, Ned Overend, John Tomac and Tim Gould (he sure does climb fast for a skinny guy!) were my early favourites then it was guys like Peaty and Hans Rey a few years after that. Andrea Tafi and Johan Museeuw were my favourite riders to watch on the road when I started getting into that, they were like gods on the cobbles. I was in the Adidas Team hospitality box when Chris Boardman broke the athletes hour record at Manchester, and I bashed the boards with his team mates, that night blew me away. The TV that night showed him being carried away from his bike but he was in the box with us shaking hands about ten minutes later and he looked like he wasn’t even sweating! Oli Beckinsale and Nick Craig are the guys I most admire in UK xc, Nick is an absolute legend and a real top bloke. Danny Macaskill and Rowan Sorell both have amazing skills and are an absolute pleasure to watch, such amazing style and grace on a bike. Chris Eatough is a legend, when he lapped me the first time at the Worlds he made me look like I was standing still. I have a massive admiration and respect for Mike Cotty, Neil Newell, Ant White, Jenn Hopkins, Dave Buchanan, Rob Dean, James Leavesley, Matt Page, Jenn O,Connor, Josh Ibbett, Kate Potter, Ian Leitch, Rich Rothwell, Lydia Gould to name but a few of the talented soloists I had the pleasure of knowing first hand or watching from the sidelines. Most of all though I love to ride with my best friend Clive Forth and any of the guys and girls who keep me turning over the pedals on all the other days of the year with their friendship and banter out on the trails and roads around where I live.
What bike skills most contribute to your enjoyment of riding:
Judging speed and distance correctly, good spacial awareness and knowing when to brake and when not to.
What bike skills most contribute to your potential in bike races:
Knowing when to wait and just ride, and knowing when to go on the attack.
How do you fit your love of bikes and racing around your full time job:
I work in a bike shop, almost all my friends are riders and I don’t fill my spare time with nonsense like TV and shopping.
Does you job actually help with your riding:
Yes, without a doubt. Knowing how your bike works is a massive advantage and making sure it works properly before you start is a must. I’ve fixed major problems and still won a race. Other times I’ve won because the guy I’ve been up against doesn’t know how to fix his, or has a problem because his bike wasn’t properly working from the start.
How would you describe yourself off a bike.
Difficult to get to know! My whole life really is bikes and a lot of people think they can relate to that but when push comes to shove they really don’t get it. I spend about 99% of my time joking around and taking the piss, but I’m really dry at times, and a lot of people think I’m serious and they don’t get that either. I think I sometimes come across as a bit uninterested but I’m usually just tired!
What made you want to join The Kinesis Morvélo Project:
The kit rocks, the bikes rock, and everything KMP stands for is bang on the money.