Superclass Superstar THE LEGEND OF “TOO TALL” WINNIE WRIGHT

As we once again approach the passing anniversary of our dear friend, Winnie Wright (Feb 13th, 2001), I wanted to post an interview that was run in the May 1988 Issue of UKBMX Race Line Magazine.

UKBMX put the Magazine out and flipping through some back issues it still stands up today with race coverage, interviews, news and UKBMX National point updates and race dates. The UKBMX staff that put the magazine together were Bridget Hayes – Editor, Clive Gosling – Assistant Editor, and Photography in this particular issue came from Scott Dick. Additional contributors were Bob Sanders, Billy Wright, Terry Beasley, Nevil Hollis, Lyn Kemp, Brian Little, Roly Sate and Adrian Williams.

NAME: Winnie Wright, my middle name is Anthony. Although a lot of people have got different nicknames for me!

AGE: I am 19 at the moment.

JOB: I’m a Postman. It’s a great job because I can ride in the afternoons, although I have to get up at four in the morning!

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN BMX-ING? It seems like forever, I guess I started riding about Eight years ago.

FIRST RACE: My first race was at Westway. I was doing well until Errol McLean knocked me over a berm and I landed hard on my neck, and everyone laughed at me.

FAVE TRACK: I don’t know. I don’t think there’s a real, first-class track in England, but Alveston and Wigan are rad.

WORST TRACK: Thorne definitely! It is just so crappy!

BIKE HISTORY: You really wanna know, I’ve had a lot of bikes ya know. Well, my first bike was a Team Murray, who’s wasn’t?! Then, I had a Redline, a Torker, a SuperGoose, a blue Kuwahara, a white Kuwahara and even a chrome Kuwahara. Then, I had a March, a JMC, a Mongoose, a specially made Ammaco, and now I’m riding a “Winnie Wright” series frame. I got it made for my design. It is so long!

FAVE RIDERS: That’s an easy one; Clive Gosling, Bobby Hyde, and Keith Joseph.

WORST RIDERS: All of the stiffbacks, the ones with all the power, when they get a jump they go, “AARGH” and fall off!

TRAINING: Yeah, I do a lot of training, down at the pub on Friday nights! My right is so strong! (INSERT LAUGHTER!)

SPONSORSHIP HISTORY: My first team was Westway, we were so fast! Then, there was the Brunswick boy’s club. After that, I got a ride with Sussex BMX. In 1985, I got my first, real Factory ride with JMC. I was riding for Ammaco for two years, but they have no team this year, so I’ve joined Links Racing for ’88.

WHAT CHANGES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN BMX IN ENGLAND? If I had to say in what happened, I would build a really fast track with massive whoops and stuff! I also think that there should be an open class at Nationals.

THANKS WINNIE!

Interview – Bill Beeken (Ammaco, Diamond Back, Aero)

Year started in BMX?
1979/80

How did you discover BMX, were you already in the bicycle industry?
I worked for Malcom Jarvis at Ammaco selling some of the first Mongoose bikes he brought in from the States. I worked with Joe Cerelo along with Don Smith who came from motorcycle trials and had a good network of motorcycle shops we could utilize.

You were the team manager for Diamond Back, what year? Team riders?
Yes, after Ammaco I went to Freewheeler who brought in Pro-Star and Diamond Back. I was selling bikes and ran the Diamond Back team which consisted of Chris Simmonds, Jason Maloney, Louis Mears and Mark White. We also got to meet and travel with Harry Leary when he came over, visiting bike shops all over the country promoting the brand.

Did you see the spike when BMX really started to boom? How healthy was the industry in the UK at the time?
Once Harry came over things went ballistic for Diamond Back, it really translated into us selling a lot of bikes. I think all the main brands in the industry were doing good once the sport started to boom during the first part of the 80s.

You were one the the early Brits in the industry to make the trip to California. What do you remember from that trip?
Harry returned the favor and invited me over to the US. I went to Pittsburg, Florida and then over to California, met the owner of Aero, Carston Berg who was sponsoring the UK Diamond Back team at the time.

What was your involvement with Aero? It seemed like it was so popular in the UK.
After meeting Carston, Peter Collins and I decided to set up and distribute Aero back in the UK. After having good relationships and contacts already in place, we really got to build the brand up sponsoring the likes of Steve Gratton, Tim March, the Diamond Back and Raleigh just to name a few.

You exited the sport by the mid 80s what did you do after?
I had some great days in BMX, met so many great people. I was good friends with Richard Barrington from ACE, Geoff Barraclough from GT, Craig Schofield and the Raleigh guys among so many.

After I left the BMX Industry mid 80s, I was in the car business and these days I do firm extra work. I still like to check in on social media and the internet to see what’s going with BMX these days. It seems like BMX is in a good place in the UK, which is great.

The forgotten kid on Team ACE – Trevor Shanks

It seems like for one reason or another, Team ACE has been overlooked when we talk about the history of BMX in the UK.  They were right there at the start.  In fact, right here on britishbmxhalloffame.com we thought the first official BMX in the UK was Redditch in 1980, however when researching further, it’s Team ACE we found has the first race put on by Don Smith and ACE’s Richard Barrington a year earlier in 1979 Brockwell Park in London.

We start out with an interview from Team ACE rider, Trevor Shanks who was on the team with the likes of Nicky Matthews, Pete Middleton, Cav Stutt and Andy Ruffell but his name isn’t really mentioned as much when Team ACE is brought up.  We thought it would be cool to get some insight and thoughts from Trevor. Since this interview we have managed to connect with Cav Strutt and some other Team ACE riders so look for a Part 2 down the road.

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Where did you first hear about BMX?
Like so many, I first heard about BMX from the US TV show, “Chips”.  Kids around the country then converted their Grifters to look like BMX bikes and emulated Motocross.  The first BMX bike I saw in person was being ridden by Cav Strutt over at our local Wreck off of Higham Hill in Walthamstow  – this must of been around 1979.

Meeting Don Smith.
During the Easter Holiday I was riding at the forest as usual on my bike when a few of my mates came up and said that there was a bloke down at the Motorcycle shop that wanted to sponsor me in BMX.   I didn’t believe them so I went to the shop as quick as I could ride and when I got there, Dave the manager passed me a piece of paper with a phone on it and said phone this man he is a friend of mine I passed along your name to him and the rest he will explain.  This man was Don Smith.  On the phone he explained that he had just returned from the US to see BMX and wanted to promote it in the UK and he wanted someone who was pretty good on a bike thus Dave giving him my name, he asked if I could go to his flat the next day and he would explain more.

The next day I went and took Nicky Matthews with me who only had a Raleigh Grifter at the time, we were good friends and I didn’t really want to go on my own.  When we went up into his lounge there was this red BMX bike up against the wall and I cannot remember what make it was.  Don proceeded to explain about BMX showing us BMX Magazines and a Video from the States he then said well there’s your bike let’s go over to where you ride and show me what you can do on it, then we will go to my friend Richard’s factory and he will be sorting out race kit and so on.

Meeting up with Richard Barrington at ACE?
At the factory is where we met Richard Barrington and as Nicky was with the two of us we were now both being measured up for race kits so Nicky said, “I’d better see if my mum can buy me a bike now”.  I had the red BMX a couple of weeks and because Don now had an involvement with the UK Mongoose supplier, Ammaco he changed my bike for a Supergoose from there a photo shoot was arranged with the local newspaper for me and Nicky and some of the other guys we rode with including Cav Strutt.  Don and Richard then said we need to put a race team together so we started holding little races in the forest then all the guys who wanted to be part of the team all met down at Richard’s factory and this was the start of Team Ace. Don and Richard had some wooden Ramps made and organized a demo race in Brockwell Park (1979) in London, Ammaco supplied some bikes and Danny Oakley from the US Mongoose Team came over as a guest, this was Team Ace’s first race. Cav didn’t race as he was more into Freestyle and rode Skateparks with Andy Ruffell, but Pete Middleton and Nicky Matthews were a couple of the riders that did.

Did Richard fund it all or were there others involved?
Yes, all funded by Richard.

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281 Trevor Shanks

Other Team riders?  It seemed to be quite a dream team so early on.
Cav Strutt, Andy Ruffell, Steve Gilley, Pete Middleton, Tony Waye, Nicky Matthews, Scott McDonald, Steve Gratton at some point plus myself of course those are the ones most people will remember.

ACE must have been one of the first legit teams in the UK.  What other teams do you remember at the time?
Ammaco Mongoose, Robinson, Halfords, Redline and Kuwahara were some of the earlier ones.

Some of the tracks you raced at?
Ipswich, Buckmore Park, Peterborough, Bishop Stortford , Scotland, Earl’s Court & Redditch.

What was the background on the Ace Frame & Forks?
Richard opened up the Ace Bike Shop (ACE Racing at 444 Forest Road Walthamstow London.)  Cav worked in the shop setting up and fixing bikes.  After a while, Richard with the help from Cav started to design his own frame to take the Ace brand further.  Cav had a lot of input into the design, he and I both rode and tested the first bare metal prototype, then we both got the first chrome plated ones.

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Eastway – Trevor Shanks, Peter Middleton, Cav Strutt, Nikki Matthews.

What happened with you on the team?
I finished racing the 83 season as a privateer after Richard sold my bike and pulled the plug in the team.

One day I had turned up about 5 mins late to go to a race at Ipswich, Richard refused to take me and dropped me from the team although I was always in the finals and winning the odd race.   For some reason he always favored Cav, Pete and Nicky & Andy had already gone over to Ammaco by this time, so my mum took me to Ipswich and I raced under no team name, I beat all the Ace riders in my class and also got myself in the Magazine during the jumping competition.

After a couple of months attending races on my own and getting my name in a few mags, Richard sent Cav over to my house and Cav said that Richard wanted to see me.  I went to see Richard in his office at the shop and he said that I was making a name for myself and did I want to come back on Ace?  I said I’m not sure as he might drop me again.  He apologized and said that as I was paying for my current Redline weekly he would pay it off.  He gave me a job in the shop as I had left school and didn’t have a job and he also started to pay me for riding which no one at the time knew.

You guys got a lot of magazine coverage in the early 80 then it seemed like Team Ace disappeared pretty quick, what happened?
Late 82 was the end for a lot of the other riders had been snapped up by the bigger teams and Richard decided to pull the plug on the team.

Cav had now given up BMX and wasn’t attending many races, Pete Middleton, and Steve Gilley had moved to Ammaco. I was doing the odd demo and at one time did a demo at a motorcycle shop in Wales.  I was now 17, had a motorcycle and a girlfriend although I was attending the odd race and riding over at Rom etc

I was at home one day and one of my friends came to my house and said that Richard wanted to borrow my bike as he was selling the design to someone.  A couple weeks passed still no sign of my bike so I went to Richard’s house to ask where my bike was to his reply he said it wasn’t mine in first place and that he had sold it along with the design as BMX was dying off.  The shop had closed so I asked Richard what about my money for riding and what am I going to ride with that little contract he had written up a year or so ago in the shop? He tore it up and said I could get a ride anywhere.  This was now the end of Team Ace.  I borrowed a bike and rode for a little longer but not only could not get to many races and not compete with the now faster riders and big teams so my time in BMX was sadly over and my time in BMX was short-lived. (1979 to 1983) I then went into Motocross I tried to go back into it around 85 but I had been away for too long.  So that is the true story of Team Ace from start to finish as it was.

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Richard passed away in 2012 but his name and ACE are stapled in the history of BMX in the UK.  You must be proud of having been involved in something so special in British BMX from the early years?
I still have a couple of bikes & still go over.  I was interviewed for the Rom Boys documentary which should be out later this year.  As I said before although myself and Nikki Matthews were at the very start and got all the lads together to form the Ace team, my name is rarely mentioned only the guys who were lucky enough to move to the bigger sponsors – I stayed with the people who got into BMX to be loyal but had taken away just as quick.  On the hand I still have a lot to thank; Richard, Don Smith and Dave from the shop I worked at for giving my name to Don otherwise I wouldn’t be here telling the story about Team Ace which may have never existed.  I feel very proud to have been a part of although short lived a part of British BMX History and lucky enough to have rode with some of the riders who became top Pros and big names in the sport.  I hope this is ok I told how it was and as much as I could remember as I am an old bugger now. Thank you for asking me to tell you my story as I said I am pretty much forgotten now.

Regards, Trevor Shanks Team Ace Factory Rider 79 – 83

Interview – Mike Pardon

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What year did you start BMX?
I think I started bmx around 1980? I fixed up my sister’s bike, which was a 20’ girl’s shopping bike and used to pretend to do motocross over a track we had in local fields!!! The bike didn’t last long.  I had been riding an 80cc Suzuki which my Uncle Paul converted to a field bike before that. I wanted to do motorcross but we had no money for that lark. A group of my school mates; Andy Bennett, Dave Westwell talked about a new shop called Alan’s in Hindley and also Halfords having something called a BMX bike.  The brands I remember at the time were Mongoose and Puch Murray.  But my first real bmx bike I got in Xmas 1980 and it was a Mongoose Skyway purchased unknown to me from Alan’s by my Uncle Paul as a surprise. I do remember watching the kids show Magpie and they showed Tinker Juarez doing a 360 out of a bowl.  It blew my mind.  I wanted a slice of that action!

The North West had quite a scene from the sport’s inception, who were some of the guys you rode with back then?
Craig Borrows, Andy Parr, Dave Arnold, Stu Carr, Fenwick Carr, Jason Ramsden, Alan Woods, John Lee, Andy Bennett, David Westwell & Godfrey Burke.  Sorry if I forgot anyone.

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How did you hook up with Alan Woods and get on Torker?
I almost scammed my way into his team.  I had a Mongoose shirt and had “Alan’s team” printed on it. Alan went for a trip to the hallowed land “California” and brought back a Torker F&F with Max pants and a race Shirt plus a yellow Simpson helmet. He then asked me to ride for him. He made an offer I couldn’t refuse. I felt like a million dollars.

First full season of racing must have been around 82? You finished National number 2 to Andy Ruffell in the 15s? What were some of the National tracks you raced at?
Was my first season 82?  I thought it was 81?  My first race was at Belle Vue for Hindley BMX club.  I won on the indoor circuit with wooden pallet jumps.  It’s where I saw Cav Strutt do a 360.  Mind -blowing.  It was also seminal in my development as I used to go to Belle Vue to watch speedway in the 1970s. I always wanted to be a speedway rider or an astronaut.  I’ve had a go at one but not the other yet!! Memorable tracks for me were Ipswich, Eastway, Buckmore Park. Alan remembers tracks better than me. Grasby was a good track it had a Rubber start gate and very steep hill?

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Any other notable names from that age group that you battled with?
John Lee of course, he was a fast bastard!!!!, Tony Law & Mark White. I was glad I wasn’t racing Fenwick Carr and Jason Ramsden as they where super fast.  It seemed like the grit and terrain of Wigan and Leigh produced some fast riders.

You were already getting a ton of press in the UK mags – featured a lot in Official BMX, BMX News newspaper before it became BMX Weekly and onto BMX Bi-Weekly. How did you and Andy Preston team up and test ride for Weekly?
Alan Woods got me into testing bikes for BMX Weekly.  I was the rider who would always have a go at big jumps and seemed to excel at tricks.  Photogenic maybe?  If memory serves me right, I had some kit made by Max for BMX Weekly; Jag shoes, Max pants & Max shirt, it looked real pro.  Alan does have that touch. He knows how to make things look factory! I used to go and ride whatever bike the magazine wanted to test.  I did jumps, tricks on them & made them look good even if they weren’t. There was a fair bit of the North and South divide thing between mags.  Official BMX was based down south and Bmx Bi-Weekly was based up North.  There was talent either side of Watford gap so it depended on your postcode which magazine you got coverage in. Andy Preston came on board around this time 83 ish and I think Martin Higginson suggested making a Team.  It was a Brit attempt at BMX Action’s.  Mike Buff and RL Osborn trick team but way less glamorous! Andy and I were then offered jobs at Pontin’s Holiday Camp in Morecambe as Bluecoat/Bike instructors at the newly built track. What a life!!! It was great to ride everyday and be paid for it.  Plus we were available to the magazine’s for photoshoots. It also suited Pontin’s, as they got exposure.  We both got pretty good. I personally got better at racing and tricks even though the ramps were so bad. Andy Preston and his folks put a lot of work into making us a professional outfit. His dad was an engineer and designed the portable ramps we used. They were groundbreaking at the time and perfect transitions. We used Andy’s own Land Rover to tow them round.  I can’t even imagine the fuel bills.

Any notable photo shoots you remember with BMX Weekly?
I do remember some at Pontin’s camp where we put the trick ramp on top of the table top and I used to hit it and get huge airs. But Nigel Higginson was into arty “sky” pictures which gave no hint of the height. So all that risk was for nothing. He did produce some great pictures but I was frustrated at the outcome of some. Especially when I became a frequent guest of the Pontin’s medical centre from crashes. I did a Raleigh photoshoot in Tenerife,1983 and jumped into the harbour off a trick ramp on a tuff burner. The locals thought I was a crazy gringo and it never even made the magazine. Took some balls to!!

You had a lot of Covers – any favorites?
As I get older I am getting prouder of what I have achieved. One day I can show them to my son Sebastian. The Romford Skatepark Aerial cover is my favourite. I just loved that park and wish I could have rode it more.

It seemed like you lost interest in Racing and turned to Freestyle – what made you switch over?
I don’t remember losing interest in racing. I just had no time to do the Nationals and do my trick team commitments. I got third in Wigan national against all the heads of state in the 16 expert class 1983 when I was a fulltime trick rider. So I proved I could still race with the best of them.

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You also got picked up by Raleigh, how did that deal come about?

I think the deal came about through Martin Higginson and BMX Bi-Weekly. It made sense. They are guaranteed coverage and a good rider plus BMX Beat happened. When I won that it seemed to explode for us as a team with Andy coming in second place. The Saturday morning TV series we made got us a lot of exposure, plus magazine coverage and demos. We had our 15 mins of fame put it that way.

You won BMX Beat that was featured on TV at the time winning the overall and continued to get a lot of coverage. It had to be a cool thing at the time?
Yes, it was really a special time; doing tricks at the Lyceum theatre in London in front of the biggest pop stars in the country, getting letters from females who watched the show & doing demos in front of a few thousand people.  I just wish looking back I had the foresight to train better and market myself better but I wouldn’t change it.  I experienced minor fame, which is so lame but it was fun for a while.

With the big money deal and arrival of Andy Ruffell to Raleigh it looked like you got the bump. What can you remember about that and thoughts on getting let go?
Well I was bemused as there was talk about Andy getting a car and nearly 20000 grand sterling. That was a fortune for a BMX Pro at that time. I couldn’t understand why we both couldn’t continue to be Raleigh riders.  In fact, I thought it would have been good for the company. Andy’s primary goal was racing, mine was Freestyle. Although Andy would have been the best Freestyler, if he put his mind to it no doubt. I had a great relationship with Raleigh I had been to the factory to help give input on bike design. Plus I had gotten them shitloads of coverage with all the TV and Magazine stuff I had done. I think most people look back and remember Andy for Mongoose bikes not for Raleigh and me for Raleigh not Hutch. But hey I don’t do the marketing so I went to Shiner on the Hutch Trickstar.

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You soon got picked up by Hutch (Shiner) how was that deal and riding the 85 Kelloggs?
Shiner and Alan’s in my opinion are the backbone of BMX and Skateboarding in the UK. I was super stoked to ride for them on the Hutch Trickstar. Plus our relationship was so good. The Allen family were beyond kind to me and helped me throughout my Skateboard career also. I was pretty average at the 85 Kelloggs event. I had actually booked to go on holiday with my then girlfriend Diane Arnold ( Jacob Roberts Mum) and we had to cancel it to do that event.  She wasn’t best pleased. I just wasn’t into competing and every demo became a chore and I wasn’t enjoying riding. You can check my heat against Ron Wilkerson on youtube.  He dabs so many times and does all that clown stuff, dancing on the bike etc. I hated that crap. But in hindsight I wasn’t that bad. The young guns were coming up, doing bigger airs pushing the boundaries of what was possible. Seemed like the writing was on the quarter pipe.

Seemed like you faded away from BMX shorty after any reason why?
I simply wasn’t enjoying it. BMX seemed to be all gloss and bubblegum no substance It didn’t have an edge.  Skateboarding on the other hand did.  It was new (to me) I was learning and enjoying the process of learning.  I continued doing BMX demos for Manchester council and riding for Shiner but I wasn’t going to win another competition, My tricks became to old school. I also hated the whole BFA thing and Colin Kefford’s vision for BMX Freestyle. It just seemed to be taking a wrong direction but what do I know? In hindsight I should have stuck at it, maybe joined a circus earned some cash and diversified into being a lion tamer!!!

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What were you up to in the late 80s and 90s?
I was living in various places. Southsea, Portsmouth for a while. I lived at number 70 liss road with Neil Hawkins, Tracy Weller and we skated partied, skated, and partied.  We had great sessions on the vert ramp and hung out with travelling American skate pros. I was skating Vert comps and getting better. I even opened a skateboard shop with Doug Nelson called Soul Skates in Chorley. I skated for Shiner on Powell and Zorlac then Allan Losi put me on LSD boards. Finally Jeremy at Deathbox gave me a deal on Bash. I even got my own Pro model. I spent time skateboarding and competing in Texas, Europe, Brazil, Scotland. It was a real learning phase in my life. I tried lots of things, made lots of mistakes. I came close along with Neil Danz and Davie Phillips to dying in Brazil 1990. We had a big car wreck. How we survived to this day is a mystery. I then got stoked on Surfing and after doing a couple of trips to Cornwall with Gary Lee and seeing his stoke for the sport wanted to learn. I realised I had to live near the waves. So I moved down to Cornwall and spent time surfing with Jamie Blair. I did whatever I could to get by including dishwashing jobs but I gradually learned to surf. I made some great friends during this time and had great experiences. I lived in a tiny caravan and occasionally skated but there wasn’t any vert in Cornwall at the time. I just surfed as much as possible. I then met an Irish girl (as you do) and moved to Ireland. I ended up living in Co Donegal by incredible waves, surfing with amazing surfers and still have a love affair with Ireland to this day. When I first moved to Co Donegal. I ended up delivering newspapers at the ripe age of 27. Thinking fuck what am I doing with my life? But sometimes doors open and I got into lifeguarding which led me into Beach lifeguarding which led me into getting work, which led me into getting involved in “surflifesaving”.  I ended up being (wait for it) the All Ireland Paddleboard Champion 4 times in a row and helping the Donegal lifesaving team to multiple successes. I am very proud to have been honoured by Donegal council for my services to lifesaving. For a lad from Manchester I was humbled. All this led to me joining the Ambulance service in 1997.  I worked in Donegal for a while then I got a job in Northern Ireland and trained up in Belfast and worked around some interesting areas.  The Good Friday agreement came into effect during the late 1990s so thankfully the troubles defused a little. I also got into Irish motorcycle road racing.  I went to watch Joey Dunlop a few times and decided I was going have a crack. I got my race licence, bought a CBR600 race bike. Then the foot and mouth thing hit and all road races were cancelled.  This probably saved my life in hindsight. Because of the foot-in-mouth I ended up doing a club race at 3 Sisters Wigan (my first race) I won the rookie class and got 6th in 600 Supersport.  I thought I was the shit!! So I turn up for the next  practice session, a month later, it was wet.  I had zero experience in the wet.  I highside within half a lap and knock myself out, break my collarbone, badly bruised my hip and mess up my bike.  I figure I had the highs and lows of motorcycle racing in one foul swoop. Reflecting on this time it’s funny how my formative racing experiences revolved around 3 Sisters!!  Even though the BMX track was gone.

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Did you still follow the sport?
I followed BMX racing at the last Olympics but I don’t watch much racing these days. I watch clips the Vans park series on Youtube. The Redbull “Sebastian Keep” clip is pure genius. My honest opinion about BMX racing is it’s lost its way.  I don’t mean that in detriment to current racers but I feel the format needs to change to switch it up.  I love BMX, it’s given me so much.  Riding a little 20” bike took me to places I never imagined.  It’s given me great bike control and opened doors for me. I now have a 4 year old son riding around a BMX track but I just want him to have fun.  I am not going to push him in anyway to do what I have done (promise).  I will always maintain a connection to BMX.

Alongside BMX you always skated, how did you get into that and did you compete?
I didn’t always skate, I took it up in 84 properly.  We used to skate “stiff necks” ramp in Ince near Wigan. The North West scene with Ardwick and Warrington was booming so I just learned to skate vert ramps. Tim Stamp, Dave Arnold, Craig Burrows always diversified into BMX and skating We just did it all. I entered some ESA skate events then graduated to skating with the A group vert lot. I was never that good. I had moments but never trained enough.  I watch stuff from Munster 1989 and it’s still unreal what they do even then.

You came back into racing again and coached in the 2000s what made you come back and how did you do?
Well, I ended up quitting the ambulance job and moving back to the UK from Ireland and living back at my Mum’s in Wigan.  I was a bit lost but had some spare cash. So I started racing Supermoto on a 650 Husaberg in the Norasport uk series.  I worked my way up to A grade and won some trophies. It’s basically BMX racing with an engine. So much fun. Supermoto got to feel very natural for me but as with most motorsports, it’s about money.  I ran out and then decided to have a crack at living in Australia. I sold my bike and kit and made an attempt at trying to find work in Australia. I didn’t as I couldn’t get a visa. I ran out of cash, so I came back to the UK broke and a little lost. It was then Alan Woods that asked if I wanted to race 24” cruisers for him? Of course, I thought why not.  I ended up winning the over 40s cruiser class at National level and British championships twice I think? I also raced Masters on a 20” It culminated with me managing Alan’s team for him.  We set up a pretty professional outfit with Vans and Shimano onboard. I was asked by Jeremy Hayes at British Cycling to assist with coaching. He’s good and knows how they operate.  It was an experience for me.  I got involved with Jamie Staff and Jeremy Hayes in writing the “how to BMX manual”

What were your thoughts on the sport this time around getting back into it compared to the 80s?
It was a world apart from what I knew.  The BMX tracks where so different. Concrete huge jumps, multiple doubles, step ups step downs, Riding  a BMX was very refined to.  I was lucky, as when I started racing again for Alan I had been riding skateparks in Australia so I had progressed.  I had taught myself spine transfers and a few new school moves.  I maintained skills at handling a bike plus surfing had given me an insight into fitness.  You have to remember I basically quit BMX Freestyle in 1986 and had never even done a roll in on a quarter pipe. That was a big trick back then.  If you think about it Andy Ruffell’s front hop drop in was big news BITD.  Now it’s just a set up.  I had to face many demons to tell myself at 40 years of age I could still progress. I then got a spate of injuries during my second racing career for Alan.  I broke my scapula in Wales in the Masters main then broke my wrist at Copull and popped my shoulder out also.  Hmmm I was sore!

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What was with the move to Australia?
I wanted to start a new life.  I enjoyed the climate of course.  I love surfing and thought most people just surfed, worked two days a week and owned their own homes.  Boy was I wrong. You work your arse off here.  It’s overpriced, fucking hot and unless you’re very lucky you “ain’t” getting a place by the ocean.  But it’s also got loads of space and opportunities and if you’re prepared to have a go and work hard it can reward you. It’s given me highs and lows in my 10 years here. It’s given me a son who I adore.  Plus a dual passport and grey hair. My job as a paramedic can be very stressful and I wonder how long I can go on doing it? But caring for my lad gives me the strength and purpose. I live day to day at the moment.

Are you still surfing, skating and riding bikes?
I still ride bikes most days.  I have a good collection. Two road racing bikes, two BMX bikes, two MTB bikes, one 26” cruiser, a 26’ jump bike oh yes and a cyclocross bike. I spent 2018 racing Gravity Enduro mtb events in WA.  I took to it pretty well and ended up taking it to the last round to be Champion in my age group but a big old crash ended that.  Also the champ, Ian Daniels, is faster than me!! I moved to Victoria in May 2019 from Western Australia to be closer to my boy as I am now divorced from his mother. So I changed my lifestyle completely.  I was surfing daily in WA but now I road ride or MTB tracks, gravel and when I can compete in selected events. I got into road riding properly in 2009 at a Master’s level when I moved to Australia and got up to A grade.  I also qualified for the UCI Masters road finals in Trento, Italy in 2013 and finished respectfully. Unfortunately it’s been a rough few years for me both mentally and physically but I am still here fighting. I shattered my collar bone and had it plated in late 2018 then had a freak accident and pulled out the plate leading to another operation, bigger plate and a lot of pain and I have only just started to fully recover from that and regain my fitness.   Plus I had a full shoulder reconstruction in 2014. I recently competed in the Australian gravel championships.  My first road event in 5 years.  I got 4th in my age group, it was a definite learning experience especially going nearly 70kph on drop bars down a really rough trail, knowing if I did fall, my collarbone at the very least was gone again.  I survived though and gained some confidence.

Future goals with riding?
At the tender age of 54 my goal is to get my fitness back after injury and compete in whatever takes my fancy. I am going to try cyclocross in 2020 and do more MTB XCO stuff.  I do enjoy racing road crits and plan to see how I go in the 2020 national masters.  It’s a smorgasbord really and there are so many routes in cycling now to go and have fun at.  I also plan to ride my skateboard more and as long as I can drop in and hit a smith grind I am a pretty happy man.  I plan to keep going until my body or heart gives out, whichever comes first. To all my friends around the world I send out a big hug. Anyone that knows me from BMX or Skateboarding, I apologize if I was ever a wanker to you but I am a good guy, really.  Peace out.

Interview – Keith Wilson

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How did you discover BMX? What year was it? How was your local scene, who did you ride with back then?
Growing up in the outskirts of East London in the 1970’s was a magical time for anyone who rode dirt bikes due to the close proximity of Epping Forest and untold wasteland as a result of all the damage done in World War 2.

The part of the forest closest to my house was littered with bomb-holes from German air-raids and as it was on a big hill. I was actually riding the bomb-holes as part of a big downhill track from the mid 70’s onwards.

Around Late 1978, we were all riding 24″ tracker bikes with Cyclocross knobbly tires and Motocross bike handlebars, The original ‘Hardtail Mountainbikes’ (20 years before they became fashionable) and whilst riding at a spot called the Hollow Ponds I met the Walthamstow riders of Andy Ruffell, Cav Strutt, Peter Middleton, Nicky Matthews, Steve Gilley and many others and instantly became friends with them. In early 79 we saw the famous episode of CHiPs featured bmx racing, we all knew we wanted to do ‘BMX’ instantly.

Pretty much straight after the CHiPs episode the Walthamstow boys suddenly appeared on modified Grifters, usually colour-changed to one of the colours of the main mx motorbikes, longer-straightened forks fitted, lightweight saddle/post, shopping bike handlebars and gears removed. They were the coolest thing I had ever seen and within weeks I had obtained one and carried out the modifications (real bmx bikes weren’t available in the UK at this time).

Whilst we were all riding at The Hollow Ponds doing big jumps, etc. a chap showed up in a three-piece-suit with a distinctive hairstyle and seemed to know a lot about bmx in America. I described him to my Dad when I got home and he informed me that it was Don Smith, a legendary motorcycle rider/racer from the area that had numerous World Titles to his name, next time I saw Don I certainly took notice of everything he said! He spoke of an upcoming trip to California where he would purchase the latest bmx bikes to import, and how he was going to organise ‘UKBMX’ races with a governing body and a professional class where we could all earn money racing bmx bikes! Don showed up with a full suspension ‘mountainbike’ in Spring 79 with mx style forks, twin shock rear suspension and hub brakes, we all had a ride of it and told him that suspension on bikes would never catch on! Don went on to write the constitution of UKBMX parts of which I believe are still in use today!

Early 1980 everyone of the growing crowd of riders had either a Mongoose or a Team Ace BMX bike. I had a very nice Supergoose 2. By the summer of 1980 races had already been held at Redditch, Ipswich (Coddenham) and Buckmore Park.

Who was your first sponsor?
My first race was right at the end of 1980 (or early 81) at Buckmore Park, the track was a quagmire of mud so the decision was made to race on the Go Kart track there with the start gate situated halfway up the hill that surrounds the track. The event was huge with hundreds of riders from far and wide in attendance. I met riders there that day that are still friends now and still race to this day. My next race was a few months later also at Buckmore park but on the proper track. I made the main along With Andy Ruffell, Jay Hardy and Craig Strong and got a good start and went into turn one with Andy but immediately wiped out. I had won all my motos that day with Mark ‘Sid’ Salisbury and Jay Hardy in them and it was then that I realised I could hang with the fastest guys in my age group and I wanted to take up racing regularly. The result that day led to me getting Sponsored by my local Bike shop ‘MASONS CYCLES’ in Wanstead and the manager there, Chris Wonfor was a great help in getting my racing career off the ground.

In winter 1980/81 I would rush home from school, grab my bike and sprint the 3 miles to Masons in freezing temperatures in the dark just to get the latest copy of BMS Plus or BMX Action to read about my heroes in the USA Stu Thomsen, Harry Leary and co.

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How long did it take until you got onto Redline?
July 1981 (on Royal Wedding day) I got the breakthrough I wanted in racing by winning a national (Andy Ruffell wasn’t there) and as a result got invited to try out for the New ‘REDLINE FACTORY TEAM’ at EARLS COURT a few weeks later.

I showed up at The Bike Show in Earls Court with my Mum for their try-outs and instantly spotted Stu Thomsen on the track!!! I was speechless! It was the guy from the magazines!! He came over and said hello to Mum and I and as I attempted to say hello back no words came out!!   They were picking 2 riders only, one 13 or under, and one 15 and over, all the other riders competing for the older slot were a fair bit older than me and a lot bigger.   We were to do some practice laps under the watchfull eye of Stu and then line-up on the gate for a one lap-no crap race with the winner taking the spot.  I put my hand in the bag for lane choice and chose gate 5 (6 man gate) and the other riders were all inside me and the first straight was short so getting the lead into the first turn was going to be a tall order.  As I put my wheel on the gate I saw a wheel line-up outside me in gate 6…I looked to my side, and up, and up….Stu was joining in…oh no!! Not only was I racing against older/bigger riders but now Stu was next to me on the gate!! nervous!!!

The gate dropped and I got a flier and looked across at the end of the straight…no-one there, whoosh I moved over and took the lead OMG OMG I’m winning!!!   Halfway throught the first turn I was hit from behind by what felt like a train!! I flew off my bike but I didnt hit the ground…because someone caught me.  Stu had slid-out in the first turn and accidentally hit me, but managed to catch me before I hit the ground!!  I was fine but upset because I hadn’t won the race.  Stu and the other Redline staff called a re-run because of what happened, and Stu told me not to worry as he knew I would win it, and I did so I was on REDLINE!!!  Stu shook my hand and welcomed me to the team and then handed me his race bike saying he could get a new one when he got home and I couldnt get a bike like that in the UK as it was custom built.

A few weeks later, I was racing at Outwell indoor and John Lee and Andy Ruffell were there and as John had been getting closer and closer to (the virtually unbeaten) Ruffell recently all eyes were on them as they took their gate positions for the final.  I even thought I was racing for third place at best with those two on the gate. The gate dropped and it all seemed too easy as I took the lead from the first pedal stroke and finished with a healthy lead over Andy with John in third.  It was October 1981 and I started to believe that I could actually win races whoever was there.

Who else was on Redline around this time?  I’m thinking; Stu Diggins and Gary Willats?
Initially, the Redline team consisted of just two riders, myself and Gary Willats.  Unfortunately, Gary got seriously injured in a car crash and missed a lot of races leaving me as the sole representative for quite a while.  Stu Diggins got on the team quite a bit later and not long before I left.  I got some great results with Redline but myself and the TM didn’t always see eye-to-eye so by June 82 I knew my days were numbered and when my friend Tony Slater expressed an interest in riding for Redline I didn’t stand in the way and parted company with the team.

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How did you get on Halfords and tell us about your first trip to the US?
It was quite a blessing, as I did really well at the Anglo American Cup at Redditch about a week later and was in the final where Tim March beat the Americans.  Halford’s main man, David Duffield was in attendance and was on the lookout for an unsponsored rider to fund for a USA trip to race at the upcoming (first ever) IBMXF World Championships at Dayton Ohio.  BMX Action Bike magazine’s; Richards and Jim Black, along with Dave Young (Chris’s Dad) were advising him on who to pick, and luckily I got on really  well with all those guys and had just had a two-page interview in the magazine, so I have no doubt that it was those guys that influenced him to pick me as the lucky rider.  A couple of weeks later I was boarding one of Freddie Lakers Jumbo Jets at Heathrow at 16 years old.  I flew to New York where I met Andy Oldham and his Dad who were also making the trip.  We flew onto Pittsburgh where the plane developed a landing gear fault and we actually crash landed onto a foam filled runway and Andy managed to sleep through the whole thing!!  We missed our connecting flight to Dayton and got a free limo ride to a hotel and flew out the next morning, pretty rad to experience all that at 16.   The heat and humidity of the Midwest was a big shock to me and even more so for the Oldham’s as they are Northerners!   Andy ended up getting injured in training leaving me as the lone Brit racing.  The parade lap was interesting with me myself and I carrying a massive Union Jack around the track.  I made the semis where I crashed and that was that.  While I was there I hung out with Greg Esser and he persuaded me not to go home but to spend the rest of the summer there following the NBL War of the Stars Series which was a great experience and I even won a round!   It was pretty surreal to be traveling, training and hanging out with the very Pro’s that I’d been reading about in BMX Plus just a few months earlier and they now all knew me by name!!!   I moved on to Canada after the race season ended and spent the Fall racing there, it was a good scene and about as big as it was back home at that time.   I returned home in late October 82 to find that I had still made national #3 even though I’d missed a large part of the season.Being local and racing with Andy Ruffell how was it being around during the start of his celebrity status in BMX?

Andy Ruffell was turning into a media celebrity by now and was getting so much tv work that it seemed like every time I turned the TV on he was on it!!  He was getting into the freestyle side of things but was still virtually unbeatable on the track, he was a true phenomenon for the years I raced!!

It seemed like you were not on Redline long before you got picked up by Torker, what was with the move?
Alan Woods contacted me in December about riding for one of his teams, I jumped at that as I’d always admired his set-up and the professionalism of the teams, etc. Initially he asked me to ride a Robinson which I was happy with as I knew them to be excellent bikes, but he eventually decided on me joining TORKER which was also cool as I was good friends with team rider, Darren Page (rip) and his family and they lived locally to me.

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Picketts Lock along with the Halfords NEC were big events back in the early 80s that were well-documented not just in the mags but also on TV as well. Do you remember much from these events?
My first race on Torker was at Picketts Lock in January 83 and I had both Tim March and Andy Ruffell in my moto which meant I was virtually guaranteed magazine coverage for Torker.  And yes, the centre page spread in BMX Action Bike Magazine was Andy, Tim, Sid Salisbury and myself hitting the first jump.  Alan Woods also gave me a Cruiser and I raced against Tim, Alan, Tony Slater and Jamie Vince and although I never won (Tim did) I got a solid second place.  I was having an decent season scoring regular top 3’s on Torker and won the inaugural British Championships at Knebworth House (the Trophy says British Open Championships) and got 3rd at the Halfords NEC race after almost going over the gate and being dead last until turn 2.  Seeing the race on TV was so cool!!

83 Worlds Slagharen Holland, how was that?
When the 83 Worlds came around at Slagharen for some reason I didn’t want to go and decided to go to the USA again instead, a week or two after the Worlds was a big race at Kettering, Ohio and it seemed like all the Americans that had attended the Worlds flew back for this race.   I raced Richie Anderson in Open Class and led him in a moto until the last turn where he blew by me (he probably spun on the gate) but it sure felt good to be ahead of him!

By the start of the 84 season you had disappeared from racing. What prompted you to stop; birds and booze?
When I returned from the USA in October 83 I got a job running FAZE 7 BMX Shop for Joe Burlo which was great but it was that that helped me to lose interest in BMX bikes as it became a 7 day a week thing, BMX, BMX, BMX all week in the shop, then BMX all weekend, it tipped me over the edge and I quit at the end of 83.  Looking back on how big things got in 84/85 and seeing that the Stars of the Kelloggs on TV were riders that I had beaten week in and week out a few years before, does make me bitterly regret giving up when I did.  When I left bmx I totally turned my back on it and have no memories of bmx after 83 apart from when Tony Slater was telling me about this kid from Derby (Geth Shooter) that was younger than us beating Stu Thomsen and co…that stuck in my mind.

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You got back into racing years later this time around with Mountainbikes.  What years did you compete and thoughts on the whole UK MTB scene.
Back in 1990, Tony Slater and Craig Schofield dragged me along to a BMX race at Ipswich.  My Torker had air in its tyres for the first time in 7 years and still had 1983 mud on them.  I did ok at the race for the first straight but always blew up puffing and panting before the finish and Tony and Craig kept giggling about me getting frustrated at trying to keep up with this 18 year old kid from Derby who was rather good…Dale something or other….haha

A few years later in 96 I fancied a go at Mountain Biking and went along to the Bike Show and bumped into Jay Hardy and Paul Roberts who persuaded me to enter the National Short Course DH Championships the following weekend.  I managed to win it at my first attempt which made me instantly well-known on the circuit and secured me a mini interview and picture on page one of issue one of Dirt Magazine.  I raced DH for the next few years winning quite a few Nationals along the way.   In 2000 I got the Bronze Medal at the World Championships in Canada and Won the British Championships in 2005.

By the mid 2000s you had found your way back into racing BMX and with only a handful of races, qualified and raced the 2005 Worlds in Paris and even put it in the main.  Seemed like you got the bug again?Yes, I decided to race BMX again and after 3 races back I found myself at the UCI Worlds In Bercy and cruised through the motos, then the 1/8th and 1/4, then I was at the back in the semi thinking it was all over and they seemed to go wide in the last turn so I went under them all and qualified for the main!!  Back in the stands it sank in that I had made a world final when Dale Holmes said ‘Hey Keith, you’re in the main’… A bit of a crash on the third straight meant it was a W7 for me which I gladly took.   I left bmx again after that world final, and kept on plugging away at DH getting more National wins and finally quit DH in 2008 to concentrate on bmx again.  I hooked up with Dialled Bikes in 2009 and won the British Championships in 4x for Dialled and followed it with British Championship titles on cruiser in 2010 and 2011.

In 2012 Mike Wong started up a new Brand FACTORY TEAM BIKES with me as the sole rider that year followed by a strong team from 2013 onwards.  I continued with FTB, becoming the team manager in 2014 and in 2017 I said that I would quit bmx racing for good if I won the British Championships that year.  My body was broken and aching and I really needed a rest so I gritted my teeth and became British Champion for the last time in 2017.

Let’s wrap it up final words?
I decided to take a rest in 2018 and in 2019 started a new cycle sport called Enduro. I raced the seven round series and managed to win five of them, one second and one third to take the title at my first attempt.  Next year, I’m taking a fresh challenge with yet another form of bicycle racing.   Did I mention that I love bikes?!   Thank you for giving me the chance to share a little bit of my history of riding bicycles on dirt.

Interview Bobby Hyde – UKBMX 16x No. 1 1987

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Active years racing?

10 years 1983-1993

How did you get into racing?

My friend at school brought in a BMX Action Bike magazine and that was it, I was hooked. ET had just come out as well. I found out about Hayes track and rode up there. There happened to be a race going on and I got to see all the tricked out bikes and race gear that I’d seen in the mags and it was like a different world… I had discovered BMX racing, my first race was the 1983 Hayes UKBMX National, I rode 12 novice, made the semis but crashed.

Local scene and riding crew?

In the London area we had quite a few tracks within riding distance or a short train ride so we were always at a track including Hayes, Hounslow, Westway, Slough, Dormers, Harrow/Meanwhile skate park, building start gates and ridiculous ramps at the infamous White Flats, which is where I met my partner in crime, Keith Joseph. There were a bunch of us that went riding; Winnie Wright, Nicky Restall, Chico Hooke, my little brother Chris, too many to mention, and we’d always meet up with other riders at the tracks.

Your mum, Val, played a big roll in UKBMX behind the scenes telling us a little more about her roll in the federation.

My Mum started by helping out at the finish line and registration, she worked for UKBMX and then EBA doing licenses and pre-registration for the races and general admin work, when the office closed she ran it from home, she ran Hillingdon Hawks for awhile too. There were a lot of parents helping out at the races in all areas, not paid and never really appreciated, in some real ropey weather, without them the races couldn’t be run, so to all those who worked registration, start hill, finish line, referees and in any area of race-day, thank you!

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How long did it take before you knew you could win at the highest level and contend for a National title?

It took awhile, raced 13x in 1984, a lot of nationals. I went out in the motos, 1/8, 1/4 finals. I made 2 semis that year, Buckmore and Poole, I amassed 5 points that year and earned the #33 plate. I had a national ranking! The next couple of years were tough, wasn’t ranked nationally, again motos, 1/8, 1/4’s. 1987 in 16x I made my first national final, Wigan, I came 3rd, that year was really good, I made every final, coming 3rd & 4ths, that was the year when the last 3 nationals were worth more points, I think they called them Grand Prix.

The last National that year was at Hounslow, Dean Iddiols had gone Superclass so that left Martin Parker in the points lead. Hounslow was Martin Parker’s home track, I think he lived under the water jump, he was always there! Somehow Martin didn’t make it out of the motos. Paul Roberts came up to me and said, “you know you could get #1 today if you finished 3rd or better” I had worked the points out and already knew that but for someone else to come up and say that to me, I had to pinch myself!! Anyway, the final time came and I placed 3rd. I have to tell you, the few years before hand where I had come 5th so many times and didn’t go through, to achieve that goal of National #1 felt bloody good!

That year taught me consistency, the next year was 17x, again consistently made every final, doing well and then at Bretons I won my first national… that was another amazing feeling… then the Superclass final ran and Winnie Wright won his first Superclass final!! my celebrations were short -lived as anyone who knew Winnie, he was larger than life, I was as pleased for him as I was myself, Winnie was that special. I finished #2 that year, another amazing year.

Rivals during this period?

There were so many; Dean Iddiols, Martin Parker, Clive Gosling, Paul Roberts, Keith Joseph, Robert Indri, Ian Feen, to be honest my rivals were whoever was on the gate.

Why didn’t you ever race NBMXA?

I raced NBMXA, again I was motos, 1/8, 1/4’s, didn’t do much until 16x came around.

Sponsors during your years?

I made it onto the Free Agent Factory Team, Scott Dick was team manager.

Your brother, Chris Hyde, was a UK 80’s Factory little star in the sport and went onto win the 1990 World Championships. Give us the 411 on Chris’ racing and why he was so good.

Wow, where do you start with Chris, he was amazing, he came everywhere with me, he rode 13 miles to Slough BMX track when he was 7. I used to try and sneak out without him but my Mum was too quick and nabbed me to take him with me, he started out on a mini burner and a motorcycle helmet, he took to BMX like a fish to water, I used to hold his back wheel on the start gate and then boom he was gone and another win in the record books!

His first national on a DP mini firebird at Teeside he came 3rd, 5x was a tough class then, some good riders, all sponsored, like Chris cared, his first year he finished #2 behind Chris Stanforth, we didn’t race 3 nationals that year, the next year it was lights out, Chris won #1, he got picked up by Raleigh and to be honest I think he was #1 for many years to come, maybe 6 or 7 years, this was UK & NBMXA. In 1985 he came 3rd at IBMXF World Championships in Canada, in France at the 1990 Worlds he took home the win, as a big brother I couldn’t have been more proud of Chris. The only title Chris missed out on was European Champion, lots of 2nds & 3rds but the elusive 1st was never to be, like he’s bothered right, World Champ sounds a lot better than Euro Champ! I think Chris riding everywhere with me, Keith, Winnie and whoever tagged along gave him an edge on his rivals, it’s funny after Chris won the Worlds, we didn’t call him Chris anymore, he went by the name “World Champ”, love you Bruv!!

Best Internationals results?

1990 Worlds in France, for some reason I was kicking some butt, my longtime pal and BMX hero, Dale Holmes, lent me his MCS factory shirt. I sailed through the motos, 1/8, & 1/4s, semi time, I was running 2nd through the 2nd turn, those big ass whoops I rode, dropped to third, slipped my pedals out of turn 3, down to 4th, coming out of the last turn I slipped my pedals twice and finished 5th… I was gutted. Ironically the dude who passed me for 4th won. He was giving it large after the win, rightly so, and I said to him, you only won because I slipped my pedals! it was USA Factory Mongoose rider, Sam Allerano. We always raced Slagharen, tough race every year!! Got a couple top 3 finishes in UK Internationals.

What year did you decide to stop racing and why?

I finished off the 1992 season really well, won a couple of the last nationals and came 2nd at the British Championships, ended up #3 that year. Over Xmas I had my appendix out, I had to take 2 months off work and couldn’t do anything physical. My first race back was at High Wycombe, open-winter meet. I was very cautious over jumps and turns and I loved that track! I had started getting back into playing football so I put my efforts into that. Took my FA coaching badges also.

You’ve lived in the US for some time now, how’s life here and do you still follow the sport now?

Yeah, we moved over to the U.S. in 1997, to Massachusetts to start with then headed to Sebastian, Florida in 2002. We have very lucky how things have turned out, made lots of great friends here, a lot of ex-pats as well. I try and keep up with what’s going on in the BMX world, the amount of time I’ve spent watching old UK & US races from back in the day & present is crazy! And, with both Twitter & Instagram, the old pics bring the memories back!

Who are some of the British riders you like to watch these days?

Just follow the World Cup series, so Liam Phillips is pretty much the only one. The tracks now-a-days are follow the leader, no real action in the turns, still the speed they reach and jumps now are pretty scary! Love watching the Grands, the live-feed to the races is awesome.

Living in Florida with many tracks to ride any chance of a come back?

Mate, when I watch the vids, I imagine a snap at every gate drop and go through the motions at every jump. I have a mountain bike I mess about on, no hills or mountains in Florida so I’m limited! I think I could top 3 at a race! We’ll see, stranger things have happened, although I’m still having too much fun playing soccer!!

Closing words:

When I lived in Massachusetts I worked at a residential school for children with behavioral disorders, we had BMX bikes for them to use for activities but the bikes were real cheap. I got with the local bike shop and explained to them my background in BMX and the job I had, they sorted me out at a real big discount to get 4 decent bikes. The kids loved it, I taught them basic maintenance and to respect the bike, we were able to implement the bike program as rewards for them in their behavior and therapy plans.

One day the kids were watching the X-Games in the rec room, one of them called me and said the guy on TV sounds like you, I said yeah right, when I listened closely I couldn’t believe my ears, it was Paul Roberts, would you Adam & Eve it! I told the kids that I knew the guy commenting and the fun & great friends I had made through BMX, a lot of the kids were able to move on from their setbacks in life, there were some real tragic stories these kids had endured. It was a pleasure to introduce BMX to them and give them something to look forward to, I know BMX gave me a lot of fun times and I met and made friends with a lot of people, thanks very much!

Photo Credit: Mark Noble

Tom Lynch Interview

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Let’s get this interview going, Tom.

Ok ok, interview?  Always a strange thing – I said I don’t do interviews way back to Paul Roberts for Dig but I had just bent my forks jumping the snake at Rom! Interviews are cool but this time I will try and get a few names in, apologies if someone’s left out.  It would be impossible to get you all in, if you need a name then contact the oracle Carole Gosling. So let’s just fill the void until Marchy and Ruffs key the words anyway?

So from the start more than 30 years later you have me reminiscing, what would the old school want to know? Ok……. spoke to the agent and the sponsors are happy to roll so back on the payroll, full factory deal!

The classroom window has been swapped with the commuting train, picturing the perfect race, again and again.  Still got the snap but people looking at me a bit strange nowadays.  Visualization always wins, don’t you know I am a bmxer?  Can still pull a 360 on the flat, rollbacks and curb endos…. you with me yet?

Difficult to get across what BMX is unless you live it, dream it, hate it or loved it.  It is a lifestyle right here and always has been a bit ‘rock and roll bmx rock star’ no matter how good you are.  When the gate drops it can be all yours.  We have shared the common interest, the fun, the progression, the challenges, success, failure, friendships, experiences, the pain, bit more pain, learning, growing, riding the ‘whoop de doos’, tabletops and berms at supersonic speeds, watching the powder puffs (Duffy, Vauvelle, Holmes, Murphy, Nichols, Wright, Madden even my sister got squirrely) and making sense of the  4130, 44/ 16, 20″ bullet proof wonder.

To be a successful bmx athlete you have to become a product of many – especially in the early days as it was still evolving, learning all the time from mimicking those who you aspire to Tim and Andy (early days Cav Strutt in the mags/ Carl Alford JMC before he quit & came back / Daryl Gibbard factory Kuwahara look/ Keith Wilson jumping in the mags, later Shooter/ Clayton/ Holmes and then finding your own path with what you have or how you are going to lay it down.  You could of course not copy anyone but as a child you need role models as natural ability can only take you so far, anyway bmx was about heroes, no play station yet or internet.

Tom Lynch BMX 1987
Tom Lynch 1987 European Championships

Racing Prep

Scotland 1977 to 80 brothers Raleigh Chipper, Chopper (from the school of hard knocks when mart/ ged took me on my first ride), sisters Raleigh Eighteen with a cello taped wooden cross bar added to bars, mums shopping bike, big air and wheelies!  The bikes did not last long and my skateboard did not work on mud.  Fan of motorcycle Speedway, Trials (Kickstart) and Motocross (lucky to have a few motorbikes to rip it up).  BMX not known yet to me until Trials and Motocross news warms up to it and then Boom!  Local newsagent imported: BMX Plus and Action in 1980.

London, England Bike 81 Earls Court Exhibition first sighting of a BMXer, Stompin Stu Thompson practicing (signed photo later) and then discovered BMX was here!  You could actually race a moto cross bike without an engine!  Next, you will be telling me phones will have no cables and you can communicate with people if you have a computer!  Although, the first satellite phone I saw was one Marchy had.  Anyway, the most factory of factory teams – Alan Woods was there and Jane Windle of Hotshot who would a few years later be my sponsor and my surrogate family with her brother Steve and mother and father, thank you.  They all gave a great deal to the sport.  Merrys at Hotwheels did also.  ‎House of Escalus – ‎House of Capulet – ‎House of Montague who’s who? Let me know, just for fun.

BMX ing immediately with my school friend Hugh on our Team Murrays, over the bars with the coaster brake we go on first curb jump, got talent spotted by the Lambert family (bmx pioneers) whilst messing about practicing jumps, getting air (seen in the mags) with my friends which I often think of as the soul of BMX when we all do this.  This was on my Kuwahara KZ with my Bill Walters Leathers on and z rims that gave me and invincible feeling. Ring gnarly MK BMX (Bleakhall & later Club Rays Radicals with Wycome, Kirby, Titmus, Keachy, Driver & Linslade Locals Godfreys, Richards, Blundens on so on).  That was next to the speedway track and then the new one at Pineham.  I was racing by 1982 until 1994.

Made a coaching comeback to establish a BMX coaching environment, 1999 to 2002 or thereabouts training Liam Phillips and Shanaze Reade now Olympians and World Champions (Charlie P, Mapps, Fry, Clayton & others).  Made possible by Uncle Buck, Carole Gosling, Pete Phillips, Keith Duly (KOD), Kona Lisa, Rich Townsend, Bernie Mapp and Blooms as were all integral to the training camps of Team GB BMX Junior Squad, groundbreaking.

Sponsors

Factory of mum and dad (quote from Chris Carter).  It was a community and still is.  So, from 83 onwards – Patterson, Redline, Amev, Vans, Uni (Hotshot, apologies on leaving), Mother’s Pride (Bakery/ Dad), Robinson (apologies on leaving, Hoffman was a visionary), SCP (Scott Clark Products), ASR (apologies on leaving), Haro, ELF, Kovachi, Harrods (that’s right Harrods), Nike, URP (signature plate, still on royalties years later, thanks to the Hassells for the opportunity and a cool plate with a name on it), AGV (signature helmets), Uvex (shades/ facemask), Jive (coolest plates) then Med (French), and SE Racing as a comeback coach (Shiner, what an emporium, was still finding things years later that had come my way back in the 80’s on Haro for example gold ripper in the box!).  Bikes dialed in by Edwardes, Clive Gosling, pedigree cycling family as in when the bicycle was invented and bmx guru/ trivia.  He started to build them and trick them out from Campag hubs, super tight wheels, cutting my bars down to Specialist one-off rims. Even took off my Unit seat and tried clips!  A great deal owed to those who invested in me and Edwardes (Carole BMX Legend and in other spheres of life).  Always sad when leaving sponsors as the journeys were good but you have to move on.

Tom Lynch Superclass no.1 BMX 1988

Results

Missed a moto at Redditch once, never missed a moto again as it was a long chase to the finish line and the look on Lambert’s (Brian) face.  Immediate regional no 1’s (South East/ East Anglia), I remember the London boys seeing my 1 SE plate and having a laugh, they stopped laughing on the first moto.  About 6 National no 1’s (NBMXA, UKBMX, GBBMX, EBA) including Superclass then British Champion and Champion of Champions twice.  Most Wins Kellogs Track Wars TV series (Dale Holmes drafted in as a younger expert, working my way through the pack and clipped him on his 1 & 3/8ths and I went down costing me the overall).

European Champion (Spain – we ruled with Howells, Ray, Hayes, Nichols, Gill, Gilmore etc), European Challenge Cup (Holland), Ireland Invitation Win, Final round of Superclass European Championships Tour win (Germany), Final round of Superclass European Championships Tour second (Belgium), Final round of Superclass European Championships Tour 3rd (Switzerland) which led to 5th overall.  Final round of Superclass European Champions Tour top 16 (Denmark & Italy). Paris indoor there is a shot of me racing Stompin Stu Thomsen but I am informed it may be practice, the original Joe Kid on a Stingray, but remember brake-checking Todd Corbitt and hitting the dirt with Gary Ellis.  Finally, raced the Pros in front of 18,000 spectators was awesome.

Coupe du Monde des Nations Masters with Dale Holmes and Clive Gosling in Perpignan, France.  Pre Worlds Slough (86) Win, World  3 (UK), Pre Worlds 2nd, World 5 (USA), World top 16 (France), World top 16 (Holland) all Superclass and World Team Trophy Winner (IBMXF/ Canada). Disappointed I missed Japan & Australia.

Lots of winter series, notable: Tours/ Toulose Indoor Open results (then onto the Alps early snowboarding with my brother and Rob Stobart).

EBA riders rep with Clive Gosling and IBMXF riders rep.
Year 2000 and 2001 – 20th Century Hero , Ride BMX Magazine, European Hall of Fame Pioneer, Member of the University of BMX (many other talented riders also). Most Excellent Order of the British Empire Honor (MBE) for services to bicycle moto cross racing, coaching and ambulance service cycling.
Rider’s Oaths IBMXF presented the USA with the opening of the 91 Worlds in France.

Game Changing Influence

(Other than March, Ruffell, Shooter, Schofield, Middleton, Vince, Salisbury etc …. watching the UK pros was so exciting and I wanted to be one as soon as I could).  Let us not forget Geth and Charlie jumping the Dollies in 84, took us all up to another level.

1. Las Vegas in 84 (Worlds USBA) and meeting the Patterson brothers; Brian/ Brent and then later, Richie ‘Avalanche’ Anderson whilst riding for Patterson (courtesy of Hotshot as if you became national no1, you were going Stateside, of which I am thankful.

2. Meeting Greg Hill around same time and the impact of Greg Hill’s Professional BMX Skills book on me (signed copy by all the Pros). Read that book every day and even ordered the hackey sack.

3. Meeting Bob Haro around same time, mastered the kick-turn from trick tips, the smoothest kick-turn, The Godfather of Freestyle, what an inspiring fellow, later raced for Haro and met him again at the 2012 Olympics – Legend, still on it.

4. Racing with Mike King when he was 15 expert on Huffy and then Superclass on Haro, what a competitor, so stylish and led the clips movement much later.  Best wishes to Eddy, his bikes were my style, so expert.

5. Practicing with Harry Leary at the Kelloggs.  Third win on how to take last doubles at an angle and later on in years with Scott Clark whilst on Robinson. Legends. The ‘Leary’ one of my favorite jumps equal with the ‘tabletop’, classics.

Who did you look up to?

My early role models and heroes inspired my bmx career and evoked development of new skills and attitudes. I learned from all of them. In addition, the continuous study of BMX Racing by watching others and knowing/ assessing the terrain (Motocross) assisted in the consolidation and improvement.

Early eighties superstar pioneers (between 1982 to 86):  1. Tim March  – essence of pure moto-cross and dirt jumping – lateral thinking (few stories there and thank you).  2. Andy Ruffell – all-around bmxer including Freestyle and great media personality – professionalism. 3. Geth Shooter – breaking racing boundaries and urban riding – non-conforming. 4. John Stockwell – application of mental attitude through training, coaching and in competition  – dedication and self-discipline. 5. Dave Dawson (and his Dad, Pete team manager who signed me up) – leading teams to success and team support as they led the hotshot teams – team ethics.

Additional: Craig Schofield, holeshot king (picked me up from a # collar bone stack 2005 reunion), nothing like what a little Dr Pepper can’t cure (see what I did there) and Sarah-Jane Nichols – steely determination and domination in the girls. Euro – Phil Hoogendoorn, Claude Vuillemot, Xavier Redois. USA – Patterson bros Brent/ Brian, Ritchie ‘Avalanche’ Anderson, Bob Haro, Mike King and Stompin Stu Thomsen. Had the pleasure of meeting all of these stars! The photos from the pages of BMX Action, BMX Plus lined my walls! Still got some magazines as well as BMX Weekly, OBMX and Action Bike etc. I am on a roll, digging out the memorabilia as we speak. Most Factory inspiration: Clive Gosling and Darren Wood (Matt Boyle, David Maw RIP needs to be mentioned, even though younger so cool).

Also Barford, Hearne, Paul Wright, Ready, Noble, Stupple, Higginson, Baggs, Archibald, David Wright – adventurer, Staff – power, Sir Chris Hoy also younger but always wore the Scottish flag and I the union jack as even though I am Scottish I raced and qualified in England. Guys like these make it happen.

You came through the ranks in a deep talented age group.  Who were some of your rivals growing up?

They don’t know this yet but I trained to beat all of them one by one. Yes….. training/study set aside to concentrate on them individually 13 through 15 expert (Diggins, Wood, Print, Alexander, Godfrey, Haynes, Hayes, Stobart, Gosling, Watkins, Craig Campbell, Morris, Ramsden, Parkinson, Bass, Andy (maximum rider), Grice, Greaves, Hill, Freeman, Gaunt, Stock, Wallace, Roberts, etc… few motos right there) and that of any up-and-coming and then same application when I jumped to Superclass.  Not all of them needed the full-drill mind you.  My father, Tom Lynch Sr., was athletic and had boxed and all the training that goes with it including a psychological approach (just watch early Rocky films and you should get it, if you do not then the edge will not be yours).

When did you realize you could win?

Already new it but with self-discipline and dedication it becomes a reality and with support from family as home/travel support team it was then achievable (thank you to them, especially my sister). My father asked me how far I wanted to go with it, we then agreed on the terms: train hard, show good sportsmanship and always win.  Three to four years to peak, then do something else. That’s it.

Who did you ride and train with at home?

Several guest visitors John Stockwell ( Haro/ UK BMX Number 1), Darren O’Neil (training before sunrise), Will Smyth Dig (big big air), local friend Mark (Tot) time keeper on all road rides –  he was my secret weapon as he did not go to the races (thankful to him), Paul (Erky) RIP for pushing the limits to the max, I mean the max.

You looked so clean riding for Robinson then onto ASR you were riding for such high profile teams at the time.

Yeah 86, I felt pretty factory (undisclosed transfer fees, signature plates/ team bus, little fan club, media team, full support crew, no expense spared) and at my peak, Euro Final win 3 weeks before Worlds, Pre Worlds win week before Worlds then switched teams before Worlds when all the UK pro stuff was going on.  Should have stayed put and maintained the balance (apologies to Tony Hoffman, such a visionary, don’t know what happened there). The looking clean bit was to always be out in front and to bunnyhop the puddles in the motos.  Anyone notice me crash a lot in practice sometimes, pushing the limits, see how far those tyres can go in a corner?  Like a wakeup call, once out of the way by tasting the dirt I could perform a bit better and maybe wear a fresh uniform (fresh and white thanks to sponsors Persil bio and my mother who really took care of my stuff).

 

Tom Lynch 1st BMX pic 1981.

You turned Superclass at 16 and went straight to number one, did you expect that?

Yeah, from 15 expert to Superclass, I was hungry for it in 1985 after euro win.  Spoiled Maloney’s comeback at Buckmore Park (sorry about that) when I was still in the 15x year (first superclass race as now 16yrs old) but now was getting paid. Was on a roll and on tour for over 6 years.  No mainstream job until 1991. What a blast!  I Might have intentionally came from the back also now and then, as you have to, to practice working through the field for when you really need it. At this point only wore a helmet whilst racing, looking back pretty dangerous as we were trying some new stuff on the dirt jumping front. Not wearing pads and actually cutting any pads out of uniform enabled me to be unrestricted.

You even won the 86 European Championships finals in Germany against the Dutch Army (Amev Team) 

What an outfit, led by Gerrit Does the Godfather of Europe.  I so wanted to be on that team. I had been chasing them all year round Europe or rather bouncing off them!  Winning one year after my European championship win in 15 expert was special.  If you were in the pack with Amev you would not survive (even before Bas de Bever/ Nico Does etc).

Did you feel so young you could beat them?  They seemed like grown men at the time?

As I said, 2nd place does not exist and still does not.

1986 World Championships Superclass Slough England. So close with a 3rd. Tell us about that Final?

What people maybe do not know is that I had been on tour racing all the same competitors in this class and had beaten them all and was on top of my game at this point.  So disappointed with the 3rd, I knew this was my peak three years on from the agreement with my father.  It was hard to stay in the zone, TV crews, magazines, home crowd, on a new team and concerned about the UK Pros and what impact this would have.

Third was not in the plan.  Some big hitters in the race including X World Champion and all the Amev team.  Stock and Fleming also who have always supported me and have been great fellow competitors.

Gate was ok, got busy over first jump, could have got a pedal stroke, and again in first corner, to deep before table top, just clipped lip, could have pedaled more down the back going into the second turn and took Addie v.d. Ven up but as I said, you bounce off them, had the pro section dialed so knew this was where I would take him and Phil Hoogendoorn (Multi World Champ). My thoughts, Amev knew my lines, they were so professional.  I had a perfect line to rail, Addie v.d. Ven got in my way and actually slowed me down, he slowed down, I can remember pulling my brake and still pedaling, jumped when maybe I should have manualed last jumps but I could get more power down sooner, needed a longer last straight and I would have got it. Needed 10 to 20 meters.

Met Steve Pollard as fan when it was over, he asked to have a go on my bike as I was debriefing with John Stockwell, good friends and founder of the LRP (London Rocket People).

With a Superclass class and Pro Class both running in the UK at the same time. You never really went against Tim March, Andy Ruffell and the early 80s UK Stars. Seemed like Andy Welsh, Darren Stock, Winnie Wright were your early Superclass rivals. What was your take on the class the first few years and not getting to race the Pros?

They kept away from me in practice which was always funny, mind you when you are on top of your game everyone wants to take you out even in practice or even a moto as I found several times.  So I don’t blame them.  Fear is a choice.

Looked up to the Pro Class very much as I knew I would join them.  The demise of the class propelled me to the top of UKBMX as the number 1 Superclass rider.  From jumping over Eddie Kid in Covent Garden to launch UK BMX season sponsorship to becoming riders representative nationally and internationally with IBMXF Superclass – would later become Elite which is Pro.  Thanks goes to the early Pro stars, they gave us a great start and sacrificed a great deal to establish the sport.

Disappointed that I did not get to race the legends of the Pros but on reflection they went out with integrity and at the top of their game.  Ruffell finished with a win later -unsure how else it could have been.  It would have been a shame to have taken them on when I was at the top of my game. Maybe I should have turned Pro at 16 and not Superclass? 15 expert to Pro?

Superclass was tough as was up an expert age group or two or three by the time my 15 x caught up, Darrin Stock, legend Winston Wright, Riviere bros, so many others and later Andy Welsh (he was younger and strong, later it would be Wood, Holmes, Revell and Sharp).  What was tough was UK BMX making us tour the UK to reinvigorate the local scene BMX racing for our rankings, great idea though. It felt good winning and retaining the crown for a number of years and representing Team GB overseas.

Tactically, I think just being a Pro gives you a 15 percent uplift on speed, some Pros technically and on skill level were maybe not so good but they were strong and experienced.  When the Pros were allowed to race back in Superclass (some of them chose to), I hit them hard and still retained No 1 for a while I am sure. Although hitting them hard physically meant hitting like a brick wall (Charlie Reynolds).

Geth Shooter paced himself back in to the game – I think I can even remember in Denmark Europeans he was protecting my position and I am sure Fleming did also at some point.  Legends.

Thoughts on UK BMX?

All the organisers made it happen for all of us and kept it going. Carole Gosling, Sue Jarvis, Bridget Hayes (Simons mother), Cynthia Murray, Val Hyde, Mary Iddiols, Vince, Sam Woods, Amanda Dowson, Babs, all the finish ladies Maureen, Mandy, June, commentators Irish Tom, Paddy Duly, John, starters Vic Roberts, Sonny Ives, Refs / Officials / Board members Stormin Norman, Murphy, Spurr, Bill Baggs, Terry Beasley and Mr Arthur Woods etc. Sorry if I missed any, very much appreciated and we often don’t appreciate it at the time.

After Winning? 

You do not stay champion forever in any game even though the spirit remains – maybe I will go over this for part at a later date and how we race makes each generation better with continual progression. Things changed with the new breed – Minozzi, Bas de Bever, Neal Wood, Dale Holmes, Jamie Staff then Christophe Leveque, Dylan Clayton in different relationship to the track and bikes, gearing other than 44/16 and 180mm cranks.

The agony of defeat versus the enjoyment of racing and getting together with your friends.  Difficult one for a champion as there are certain pressures and responsibilities that come or had come with it. Then the LRP formed and so did our Bicycles & Dirt BMX Club: Carl Alford, Steve Bardens, Steve Pollard, Keith, Rob, Marcus, Jon Beckett, Sean Boyle, Jon B, Ross Hill rip, Steve Bell, Manfred Stromberg, Oliver etc and even Mat Hoffman.

A career had to be chosen as there was a BMX slowdown, this affected one’s performance also especially with shiftwork and study in the ambulance service, over 20 yrs now.

I was with the LRP at an event racing when at 12 yrs in competing I decided before a first moto at a National that I did not want to do it anymore and asked my buddy Jon Beckett  to get me out of here.

I was at a track that I won a National there previously from last to first place and now I was at a race just making up the numbers, might do well, might not, but having such a cool time over the whole weekend just having fun. Had to work all that out, so we had a great big breakfast somewhere, which I never have on race day. Didn’t work it all out just had a better understanding of the need to retire would have to be very soon.  I did not make a big deal about retiring, no glory in that and always like to leave the party while its still rocking anyway.

Backyard Jams followed which were awesome and it was great just cutting loose on the jumps with the Bexhill, Mad Dog, Gosling, McCoy, Duly, Fuzzy, Clymer and many others. I just loved getting rad and actually loved it more when everyone had left and we were still jumping, was even better even with a fractured ankle until it would not bend anymore.

Played with MTB a bit downhill/ duel, mainly PORC (love that place), was I going to commit to that and get serious? Would have to actually not do it as was still so competitive, but not my thing anyway, not accurate enough as the tyres and suspension allowed mistakes. The MTB guys did not like so much the BMX guys coming over for downhill duel/ 4 cross etc but Dave Hemming was cool and still is.  In fact, the MTB was pretty easy (except for CX) as the BMX attitudes to it were of a killer instinct, full contact and explosive power. Those guys did not know what hit them.

Comeback 

25th Year Anniversary in 2005 was a reunion race.  I had to train for it and get my bottle (courage) back so headed to PORC for trails and downhill. The MTB dudes were laughing at the BMX guy with all the JT gear including body armour and belt, pure moto cross (long term loan from Steve Bardens), after first run then they stopped. Took a supply of tubes for blowouts which were many and full rescue kit. The tubes worked out as the jumps were gigantic but got the flow after a few, however the medical kit got used on some kid, he was from Russia and also on his own. I told him whilst eyeing up the biggest doubles in the trail section, if I went down go and get some help. I did as the jumps were not like the 80’s as I found out hitting the massive lip at full speed, pain returned, bottle back, no fear, ready. He had flown another section and found him unconscious under a bush, don’t worry he survived but it was a long drag up from the quarry.

Flying on race day, full-on Factory Patterson gear (from Brian), great to see the old school, lil kid appears in the step up on my approach, I bailed, broken collar bone. Five years of ops, titanium plates/ bolts etc. Remind me to make no comebacks, just to get it straight this was not a comeback, great support from the old school though, thank you. Good to see them and follow those that are still racing today (Print, Alexander, Stockwell etc).

Thought about bmx a great deal at this time and located some of my old hardware, out of nowhere a boy who I gave a bike to over 20 yrs before gave me a call, he said it’s ready. Steve Keech boy to man (well he was a man when we were still boys) had re-chromed my old PR200 Patterson frame, won the euros on it. He gave it to me via my old coach Brian (Lambert) and Jamie, and in true form Clive built it from the parts I had and the bits from my lil secret stash of SE stuff and my Ripper. It is up on the wall and it is very cool (brand new from box old school DX from Carl, Uni Seat from Woody). I have now unpacked the bmx archives and it is like an 80’s Christmas. That old school show and shine formation is incredible, so accurate, keeps it alive, so anorak, love it.

BMX helped you in other things

The BMX experience and Carole helped me to formulate some new ideas BMX Medic (ambulance cycle response innovated and created) & BMX Coaching, really had to make a career choice (2010) but was able to establish an early sustainable coaching environment with British Cycling. Where the likes of Townsend, Staff, Blooms, Clayton, Stockwell, Holmes, Vince etc took it up.
On the ambulance cycle response in London, everyone thought I was joking and had a little laugh, could talk all day about it but I will leave you with two things. 1. Can I ride a bike really fast? You know, of course it’s going to work, I am a bmxer. 2. People are alive that would have died. The other day one of my team members resuscitates and shocks the heart of a 26 year old female who had a cardiac arrest on Oxford St central London, she goes back to work soon and will enjoy a full life.

Career choice….. the right one? More tea and medals all round?

Would have loved to been with our Olympians but was there in person with the guys and in spirit on the track.  Did I say mentioned Bob?

What does BMX mean to you?

Maybe end then on the ‘true meaning of bmx’ I did see the Murray boys do a back flip in races (Rob Indri memorial) and it reminded me of why I started BMX, it was so rad, maybe inappropriate but radical, no rules, non-compliant just free spirit.  I raised a poll on BMX Talk about this 3 and it had some good discussion (check out my other posts on bmx talk about Tim & Andy and the Olympics). Murray, to see him fly….. so impressed by his riding and his achievements as well as ruling the X Games (lil boy from powder monkey) saddened by his accident impressed by the Staystrong (nice one marco) movement and his resilience, we all think of him and his family. Staystrong.

BMX in the Olympics, thoughts?

A dream come true, would have loved to have been on that platform, to be an Olympian has got to be the highest accolade.  I hope that all of us have done something to assist in laying the foundation to this ultimate achievement and that Shanaze Reade and Liam Phillips bring home the gold and that others follow.  It was great to catch-up with the old school Pros at the 2012 Worlds in Birmingham.  As Clive Gosling said. it was like 1984 in the VIP box (hosted by Jeff Dovey).

So full-circle riding BMX with friends to riding BMX with friends, with a bit of racing in-between. Would do it all again as long as I could re-race the 86 Worlds!

Some additional info

Kelloggs

EBA Poole 89

 

 

Interview Dave Dawson

Age/live 47/Worcester, England

Years raced BMX 1980 -1985

How did you get started?

I can’t remember how I got to hear about the first race in the UK that took place at Redditch, but David Duffield was employed by Halfords and they were going to import the Puch Murray bikes into the UK and funded the Redditch track which was very close to the Halfords Head Office. They arranged for some guys to come over from Holland and they allowed some local kids use a fleet of Puch Murray bikes and Protec helmets as a demo race.
My Dad had been involved in Motorcycle trials and knew Steve Wilson, who was then a trials star in the Midlands and a good frame builder. Steve had made a few BMX bikes and on that day he loaned me a bike and I recall finishing 2nd place to a Dutch guys .
I soon bought a bike off Steve and then helped develop the bike over the next year or so until I was picked up by Hotshot towards the end of the 81 season.
The original Wilson team included Dave and Adrian Jessop, Dave Westwell, Simon Ryland and Mark Butler.

How was your local scene?

The local scene was generally centred around Redditch where we met with a load of the Midlands racers pretty regularly and it was a normal thing to ride the 10 miles each way from home to the track and practice all day – no need to train back then!
My local scene in Bromsgrove involved a few guys that were pretty good, Anthony But was in my year at school so we hung about together a fair bit plus Dean Bateson and Chris Lawther from Birmingham Wheels were local so there were always a fair few guys about and we had some reasonable riding spots.
I remember Anthony Sewell spent quite some time staying with Chris when he was in the UK so we rode together a fair bit too.

Who influenced you back then on a BMX?

Like most guys round the early days of BMX in the UK, most influences came from US magazines so the likes of Stu Thomsen, Harry Leary, Greg Hill etc would have featured pretty heavily.
I was into motocross and saw Tim March race a few times at schoolboy nationals and he was bloody quick so when he started racing BMX it felt like the sport had a bit more credibility in my eyes.
Towards the mid 80’s I would say Geth Shooter was an influence and was good to see someone who had less ego beat the so called ‘stars’ of the day.

Earlier tracks you rode and raced on?

Most of the Midlands tracks as they were so easy to get to (Redditch, Wordsley, Bromsgrove, Derby, Cocksmoor, Birmingham Wheels, Hereford, Deddington etc) but we did a fair bit of travelling in those first couple of years to places like Ipswich, Nottingham, Grimsby and Cleethorpes, Wigan, Chorley, High Wycombe, Peterborough, Bradford, Buckmore Park, Margate, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole, Hounslow……quite a few when you start listing them!

Who did you ride and race with?

Through most of the time I raced with a lot of the same guys and there really wasn’t a lot between any of us as on the day anyone could have won. There was a change after 1981 when they changed the classes in relation to date of birth so some of the riders changed classes. The main at most Nationals would have consisted of any of the following;
Nikki Matthews, Fenwick Carr, Gary Fenwick, Terry Lloyd, Chris Simmonds, Dean Scott Webb, Anthony But, Keith Wilson, Tony Slater, Andy Ruffell, Mark Cracknell, Geth Shooter, Ian Mason, Harvey Monkton, Simon Bailey, Paul Miller & Martin Jose.

Teams you rode for?

Halfords/Wilson, Hotshot, Patterson, Vector

Your dad Pete was Team Manager for Redline when they had a powerhouse team tell us a little about his history.

He had always been involved in bike sport and was a pretty good trials and motocross rider from the 50’s through to the 80’s.
When I signed for Hotshot I also went to work for Les Windle and lived with the family down in Oxford. Eventually my Dad came to work for the company too in sales and as part of that role he looked after the race teams. It was about the same time that Hotshot started to import Redline and Patterson and he was tasked with building a team.

He had been commentating at Redditch for some years so he knew a lot of guys and I guess doing that job you notice the riders at all ages that are doing well so when he started to look at building a team he already had a good idea of who the talented riders in each age class were. The Redline Team consisted of Geth, Tim Print, Nicky Dalton, Paul Ray, Mike and Sarah Jane Nicholls and the Patterson Team was Me, Tom Lynch, Gary and Mark O’Connor – it was a pretty good group of riders and also the Hotshot Team was used as a feeder group if I remember right?

Seemed like you race NBMXA a little more mid 80s why did you like it more than UKBMX?

I just went where the team rode. I think we tried to make sure that there was a presence at both NBMXA and UKBMX but I don’t remember why I ended up in one more than the other unless it was because there was a bigger NBMXA presence in the Midlands so it was a bit cheaper to do?

Highlight of your career?

NBMXA British Champions 1983 I got 3rd. 1984 I was NBMXA National No 2 and also 2nd at the British Championships in Cruiser behind Geth.

Why did you stop racing?

I found other things to do and got fed up of every weekend being the same, however I joined the Army in 1985 so that was probably the main reason, although I took my Patterson with me and rode a few races in Belgium and Germany where I was posted in 1986/7.

Do you still follow racing these days?

Only through Facebook and Youtube – I would have loved to have started racing later and have been around now to ride todays tracks but I am pretty sure I would hurt myself if I made a comeback now even though I regularly ride my road and mountain bike.

Did you ever think 30 plus years ago BMX would become an Olympic Sport?

Never – it was just a bit of fun for us in our teens but now it really is a Professional sport – The commitment to the sport that British Cycling have invested and the work that the likes of Liam Phillips must put in to be at the top of their game is light years away from the sport that I did back in the day.

Could today’s BMX Racing learn anything from the early days?

I don’t know – apart from the size of the wheels I wouldn’t even categorise them as the same sport. BMX from the 80’s was more like 4x is today with more natural terrain, all weather races (including loads of mud) and pedalling (loads of it at tracks like Peterborough and Bradford too!)

Anything you want to add?

I certainly made loads of friends back in the day and many of them I am still in touch with on Facebook. The sport taught me lessons that I have carried through my life with me and gave me a whole host of experiences that I wont forget or wouldn’t change.

I am glad it has all become more professional but I still remember the party at Geths house between the 2 days of the British Championships when at least 6 of us slept on the floor in the lounge of the Shooter residence in our drunken state and then raced the finals the next day and a number of us made it to the podium – doubt whether that would happen today?