I was on a bike before I could walk. Barely able to sit upright, my dad had me strapped into the child seat on his Edison 753. Born in Sheffield, England in 1998, I spent Saturday mornings with my dad racing across the city doing the weekend’s food shopping.
As soon as my sister could stand, my mum and dad took me to the local bike shop in Eberstadt, Germany (we moved when I was two) to buy my first bike; A Specialized 16” wheel with a pedal brake. My sister had taken my ‘Like a Bike’ and I didn’t get it back.
Skip forward to 2008, I’m camping with my dad for a week at Bikepark Winterberg. I’m on my Alutech dirt jump bike, racing around and around the four-cross track. A whole week of bike-park and camping! I’m having an absolute blast! By now biking is shaping how I see myself.
Like most kids in my neighbourhood, I got sucked into gaming at the age of twelve and consequently the relationship with my dad deteriorated rapidly. Somehow, I managed to pull myself out of it one day went to our local woods with my Alutech and realised what I’d been missing. On the trails, in the woods, is where I belong. Crucially, I’d turned it around myself. I was riding the bike without my dad and, wisely, he was letting me get on with it, allowing me to find my own way with the bike. And that’s how it stayed until I was 15 when I decided I wanted to have a go at racing cross-country mountain bikes.
I joined our local club and raced the school cup series. Looking back at the photos now, I can see that what I lacked in style (skater shoes and hooded top) I more than made up for in will-power. It was my decision to race, I wanted to compete. It wasn’t coming from my father. I finished the series unbeaten and full of confidence.
Unfortunately, the local club is full of posing half-wheelers who cream off the sponsorship and hide from competition. They view young riders as a threat and frighten them off. Sadly a familiar situation in too many cycling clubs.
My dad has instilled into us kids that whatever you do, do it to the very best of your ability, or don’t bother. Looking for a new club, we decided I would race for a Sheffield club and there is only one true Sheffield Club, Rutland CC.
Next, came the bike. I wanted to race on an XC bike instead of dirt-jump bike, it seemed reasonable. My dad cashed in his pension and asked Field Cycles to build me a frame. In case you are interested in what a big deal this is, check out their frames.
My first season racing on a licence was done mainly in Germany with a couple of races in the Benelux Cup series and of trips ‘back home’ for the National Championships the UK.
I finished the season ranked 5th in Germany, won the Nord-Rhein Westfalia XC Series and just missed the top ten by half a wheel in the National Champs at Hadleigh Park.
2015 was my first season at U19 and racing internationally, a huge step up. I was frightened to death.