Photo care of Anthony Pease
There are some folk out there who like to make things a little more interesting. I mean not just a little bit either. But some will take it to a somewhat different level. Race 24 hrs? Yeah why not? Do it Solo? Yeah sure, Go for as many miles as possible? Rude not too, and do it on a rigid single speed? Why not? Why not indeed. One fellow has taken this challenge up on more than one occasion too. I can see the point, after all if you keep it simple you keep it light and practical. But this fellow will have a bash at all sorts. It also appears he has a more than passing resemblance to a certain X-man. Minus dirty great claws and ability to heal super fast, although I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. He also has a slight thing for Triumph Bikes too. Hmm starting to sound like a more lifelike X-Man after all but without all the glam of Hollywood . So lets be clear. He likes simple and rather bespoke bikes with and without an engine and likes to push himself to the limit and beyond. Before you jump the gun it’s not Guy Martin with an alter ego.
Photo care of Kevin Sheldrake
Who are you?
Where are you from?
I grew up in Royston, Hertfordshire with a few stints in Trinidad and Indonesia when I was small.
Guess it’s hard to avoid bikes when you grow up in a town (Royston) with a national grade BMX track and a load of heathland… and a golf course on public land that has amazing ramps to launch yourself off!
I have spent the last 20 years in & around Hinckley, Leicestershire – home of Triumph Motorcycles and not a lot else.
Where do you ride?
Mainly local trails around the Hinckley/Coventry area, a trail centre every now & then, plus loops around Belper. Cannock’s nice and close and has loads of off-piste trails and some good way-marked stuff, but has a tendency to get busy at the weekends. I try to stay off the roads as much as possible.
Who do you ride with?
Mainly on my own at the moment, clocking up winter miles & getting ready for my trip to NZ for WEMBO-16 in February…
I also ride with the Godiva Trailriders in Coventry, or a couple of mates from Hinckley or the Wild Boars every now & then. The GT rides are very much on the social side of MTB on a Wednesday night, always an enjoyable ride and a couple of pints & a chat at the end. A massive mix of ability adds to the fun…
What kind of riding are you into?
Twisty single track, big climbs and fast descents, roots, mud, anything else… Not very keen on big jumps, but will have a go at most stuff unless self preservation kicks in first.
I’m really in to long distance stuff where you’re out for hours – things like the Scott marathon series, 12-hour and 24-hour races. In the last year this has made me discover more places to ride around where I live as training rides have got longer and more frequent. It’s nice to get in a car every now & then to ride somewhere different, or somewhere with big hills, but it’s a surprise how much stuff you can find locally if you go looking for it.
I had a dabble on road bikes, but lost interest very quickly. However, I discovered cyclocross bikes (singlespeed of course!) a couple of years back and rediscovered a load of old rides that were crap on a mountain bike but fun on a crosser because of the skinny tyres and higher speeds.
What bike/s are you running at the moment?
All singlespeed. Rigid. Steel.
I’ve ridden other stuff in the past, including long travel fork’d hardtails and downhill. However, riding a rigid singlespeed makes you think about lines and conserving momentum which makes everyday riding more fun/interesting.
I fell in love with Singular’s a few years ago and never looked back. They really suit the kind of riding I do and think they are a lovely ride. Currently the collection includes a Swift, a Rooster 29+ part built and a Colombus tubed special called a Spitfire.
The crosser is a Genesis Day-One with brakes upgraded to hydraulic disks.
I also have a fixie road bike for commuting and the odd bit of training on the road when necessary.
I believe you have a thing for Single speeds?
No idea how you got that impression… maybe something to do with not having a geared bike in my stable (except for my son’s bike that lives on the turbo-trainer). Simple, fun and good for getting peoples attention out on the trails.
It’s also a great scene – super sociable and always up for messing around on bikes and sharing a beer or whisky. I have some great memories of UK & European singlespeed events and made some good friends in the process.
I take it you like to keep things simple?
Yep – all the more time for riding. A bit of lube on the chain and that’s about it unless it’s really muddy. Chains & sprockets are cheap and last for ages… necessary when you have a wife & son with expensive taste.
Now you like to race long distance and Endurance type races?
If you are going to travel for a race, probably best to ride for longer than it takes you to get there…
What is it about this kind of racing that appealed to you?
The challenge and/or the type of riding. They also have a good spread of ability and mentality, but always tend towards being sociable and about enjoying the ride
Stuff like the Scott series is really well organised and although you know you are out in the middle of Wales, you are supported if things go wrong. To me, this means you can attack them hard and get the most out of the ride.
The 12 & 24-hour stuff is totally different and much more about balance between fitness and mental toughness. A bad one is tough to deal with, but always gives you something to learn from or improve. A good one gives you a high that lasts for ages.
Ok I’ve done a couple of races along these lines and it can be pretty tough at times. What keeps you going?
The feeling of finishing something big. I guess I am quite focused, or maybe just persistent… they also got a lot more enjoyable as my fitness improved.
Photo care of Kevin Sheldrake
What has been the best or worst experience whilst racing?
Best – Mountain Mayhem 2015 – so taken aback by the support from friends (old & new) who gave up their time, parts, or their bike to help me out. Still really proud of what happened that weekend.
Worst – A run-in with a rider at one of the Midland XC races a few years back who was very rude. He claimed he was an ‘Elite rider’ and thought I had eyes in the back of my head and expected me to stop my race to let him past on a bit of single track even though I was racing someone. The experience put me right off short course cross-country. I try to be as polite as possible now – there’s no need to abuse slower riders who are also trying their hardest and in a 12 or 24 hour race a few seconds here or there don’t really hurt.
Not only that but you race in Cyclocross to?
Only done a couple of races when I’ve had time. Cross riding just breaks up constantly being on an mtb.
That’s a pretty tough gig if ever there was. For those who don’t know give us an idea of what a average Cyclocross race consists of?
1-hour flat-out round a mainly grassy track with a few obstacles – my local course is at Misterton hall that has a good mix including exposed rooty bits. Flat-out pace means spending most of the time feeling like your lungs are going to explode.
You’ve also done DH, Bmx and Motocross. I thinks it’s safe to say you have a thing for 2 wheels right?
Cycling is a massive part of me… it can be difficult to explain to others who don’t cycle, especially when I have given up other hobbies (hockey) to go and do races or focus on training.
I also have a road bike licence too. 2 wheels are so much more fun than 4, especially when you get to ride all sorts through work…
What is your favourite memory either from racing or life in general?
There’s a few…
– the day I got married to my lovely wife Ingrid
– the day my son was born
– winning mountain mayhem in 2015 year after busting my forks on lap 13. Sudden realisation about how many friends I had and the effort they put in to keep me going.
– Mountain Mayhem 2013 – 2 singlespeeds on the solo podium – made a good friend off the back of that in the form of Julian Rider of 1-Cog
– Meeting Jimmy & Alex from Mule Bar at the Trans-Scotland in 2007(?) – we looked after their valuables for a week and they supported me for years with their products… I’m pretty sure Jimmy knows how much that has meant to me and how proud I was to ride in their kit.
– getting my job at Triumph and being able to say that I have enjoyed it everyday for the last 19-1/2 years
– moving up to adult MX from schoolboy MX and being moved up from junior to expert after my first race – I won… by quite a long way!
– seeing Dave Thorpe win the British MX GP at Farleigh Castle back in 1985 500cc 2-stroke crosser after dropping it on the 1st corner. The bloke was an absolute hero that weekend – especially after seeing some of the passes he made to work his way through the pack of 40 riders in a few laps. Can’t believe that was 30 years ago!
Any crazy stories you can tell us
Well there’s the one where I ended up in hospital after falling off the back of a pick-up in the early hours at Santa Pod… I may have had a drink, or three. The wife wasn’t too impressed as we had to get her out of bed so she could accompany me to hospital so I could get my head stitched back up. All in the pursuit of do-nuts!
Describe your perfect day?
Good cup of coffee, a ride and good food. New parts arriving in the post.
Where would you like to go that you haven’t yet?
I’m going to New Zealand in February to ride at Rotorua, but only there for 4 days, so I would like to be able to go back again for a bit longer in the future.
Iceland… big, wild open spaces & not a lot of people.
Japan.. been there on business quite a few times, but never had much time to see much of the country. I absolutely love the food and would like to see more of the place.
What could you not do without?
– Wife – she keeps me on the straight & narrow while also letting me get away with all sorts of crap
– bike – a massive part of my life – for fun, commuting (stress relief) & socialising
– a job I enjoy – it needs to pay the way & don’t think I could stick at it unless I enjoyed it
Who inspires you?
Valentino Rossi… at the top of his game for so long and clearly loves what he does.
John Bloor – the guy that owns Triumph. An inspiration to work for, driven, down to earth and someone who has put a load of his own money into re-creating a British motorcycle company that can and is competing with the best in the world, showing how good British Engineering can be.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
A skeleton made of Adamantium to go with the sideburns and Wolverine look people keep suggesting I have.
What tunes do you like?
I am a big fan of Nick Cave, PJ Harvey & New Model Army. But listen to almost anything going – punk, metal, soul, funk, electronic, whatever… I love Radio 6-Music ‘cos it plays everything and anything.
What’s the best advice you have been given?
Don’t do anything stupid before WEMBO-15… should have listened more closely!
What would you say to anyone wanting to have a go at the sort of racing you do?
Have a go. Enjoy the experience – the feeling of crossing that line, regardless of where you finish is like nothing else, especially the first time… watch out though – it’s kind of addictive
What does the future hold for you?
More of the same I hope – enjoying my riding, pushing myself physically & mentally to try to achieve my goal of bringing the singlespeed WEMBO title to the UK. After a bit of disappointment in the US last year, I am off to New Zealand in February for another crack at the event… fingers crossed!
A few more years at Triumph and I get my Rolex for 25-years service… should tie in quite nicely with the end of my next project too!
Any thanks or last thoughts?
Big thanks to my wife for putting up with the constant mud last winter, and bearing with me while the same happens again this year as I keep training for WEMBO-16.
E3Coach.com… Jon Fearne has put up with me insisting I do all my training on singlespeed bikes and worked hard to deal with it. He’s transformed my fitness and put things in perspective when things have gotten a bit wobbly mentally.
Jimmy Docherty… without his and Mule Bar’s encouragement, I don’t think I would be where I am now.
Sam Alison at Singular Cycles… awesome bikes
Ellis Blackman at Fibrax… great British kit from an all-round good chap
Wayne Elliot at EDS bikes for sorting me out with tyres last year and next
Torq, Hope and BETD Goldtec for helping take the sting out of training costs and kit for my bikes.
Everyone at Godiva Trailriders for their support and encouragement. What a great bunch to be associated with.
Julian Rider at 1-Cog… inspiration, great words and the reason I am chasing this WEMBO dream