I last raced the BMX World Championships in 1996 – in front of his home crowd in Brighton here in the UK. It was a great day for me as I went on to win that race and became one of only a couple of British riders to win the World Championships twice. Fast forward 18 years and the majority of my training now done at British Cycling’s fantastic indoor BMX facility in preparation for my 4X racing. With some of my training being done on his BMX bike, it was suggested that I was quick enough to compete at the World Championships in the tough Masters class. In BMX there are 2 30 plus classes. 30+ is for riders who are aged between 30 and 40 but still work outside of racing. Masters class is for riders who are 30 to 40, and who are still professional or are former World/European or National Champions. Masters is stacked with the finest former elite BMX riders. Never one to shy away from a challenge, jumped at the opportunity.
The race was on Wednesday night – 23rd July. It was just possible as I had to be in Czech Republic on Thursday 24th July to start practice for the 4X ProTour round 5.
We arrived in Rotterdam, Netherlands on Monday for registration and his first look at the track. The track had been built in the Ahoy stadium in the centre of Rotterdam. A temporary track built in just 4 days, it was an impressive sight and I was excited about the next 2 days. On Tuesday practice began. The British team had just 1 hour on Tuesday and 1 hour on Wednesday to practice ahead of the racing. As a maximum, I would get 3 laps per day practice so 6 in total before racing started. Practice went well, especially my gates. So important on a tight indoor track. I was gating well, and confidence was starting to grow.
Here is our official Yeti Racing UK team film featuring a lap of the track:
Wednesday and it was race day. The final practice session went well, and I was ready. The motos were announced – qualification races. I would have to finish in the top 4 in his 3 motos to advance. The draw was tough and included 2013 Masters World Champion Kelvin Batey, Former USA Champion Matt Pohlkamp and a host of European and South American Champions.
19.00 and it was showtime. I was nervous, more so that I just had no idea what my speed was going to be like against the riders in Masters. The gate dropped on my first moto and I made a superb start, moving into 2nd and holding on to the finish. I was buzzing! Back on the BMX and importantly for me, in contention. In moto 2 I finished 2nd again, then in the last moto, with the outside gate, I finished 4th. I was through to the semi finals and in the top 16 in the World!
Semi finals and I had 4th pick of the start gate. I went for gate 3. With the start of my night, I led down the first straight. In turn 1 I made a little mistake and slipped back to 3rd, but unfortunately found myself on the outside into turn 2. Bumped into 4th, I was in trouble and in the last turn I got stuck tight on the inside. On the last straight I slipped back to 5th and unfortunately went out of the event. The result officially gave me 9th but I was pretty devastated to go from 1st to 5th on that lap. Here is the YouTube footage of his Semi final. Well worth a watch. Remember I am on gate 3. Bear in mind the Danish rider in gate 2 who finishes 3rd went on to win the final and become the 2014 Masters World Champion.
The Worlds were over, but now it was time to drive to Czech Republic for round 5 of the 4X ProTour.