MEET THE TEAM
MEET THE TEAM
The Peak Cycling UK team are both fully qualified British Cycling Level 3 Leaders.
What does this mean... Learn more here
I was about 6 or 7 when I learned to ride without stabilisers, at a caravan park on the Lincolnshire coast. My cycling destinations have moved on a bit, but from those first few hard yards (yep, this was the 70s), I was off. As a kid growing up I always had a bike, and because I grew up in a Leicestershire market town, luckily I didn’t suffer the same redistribution problems Graham did! Well, at least until my first proper racer, a bright red one, got moved without permission at Hull Uni in the early 90s.
Replacing the racer with a Raleigh Pioneer, this was the start of off-road cycling for me, although the tyres were still quite thin and my trails were more about towpaths and reservoir loops. Dragging my then girlfriend, now wife, around with me, we put in lots of easy miles back in the mid 90s, even carting our bikes around the country on holiday.
Moving onto a proper mountain bike, a Saracen fully rigid steel bike, which my Dad still uses from time to time, the off road trails got a bit more interesting, although the idea of suspension was just letting a bit of air out of the tyres back then. Still, I got my first taste of dirt, and liked it!
Roll on to Whistler, in 2002. There was bike race on the day we arrived; I rented a bike the following day, and the MTB bug bit properly, although I did baulk at the black trails, preferring the blue and red options! Back home it was time to invest in my first 4 figure bike; my family and friends thought I was bonkers, but that was the least I spent on a bike, an Orange Evo hardtail, from that point on (well, except for the kids bikes…). Since then, several bikes and lots of suspension later, I ride XC and Trail, enjoy a spot of techy downhill, but love to earn my “cake points” climbing up first.
As an Explorer Scout Leader for many years, ML trained and wanting to show how great mountain biking in the hills was, I did several skills courses and passed my SMBLA Trail Cycle Leader qualification in 2008, just ahead of a long trip to New Zealand, where (you guessed it) I mountain biked in lots of amazing places. Since then, I have progressed to become a British Cycling Level 3 Mountain Bike Leaders and am delighted to be in a position to share my passion for the brilliant trails we have in the Peak District.
Road cycling started as a means to avoid the dreadful Nottingham traffic, but before long I was signing up to sportives, upgrading my bike (now bikes) and organising weekend rides and large corporate cycling events. Although I haven’t done LEJOG (yet?) I have plenty of miles in my legs, and now commuting duties are done, my Genesis Croix de Fer is “re-purposed” as a Gravel Bike, and boy, what fun that is. It almost takes me back to the Raleigh Pioneer days………doesn’t everything circle back around eventually?
I have built on my personal skills by becoming an NSI (Bikeability instructor), able to teach Level 1, 2 and 3, learn to ride sessions and am also a Sustrans Ride Manager, qualified to take groups of any level out on the road.
As a Leader and Commissioner in Scouting for over 25 years, I have up to date DBS clearance, and Safeguarding and Safety training all updated every few years. Also, I have been the Leader of the Derbyshire Scout Bike Team for 6 years, offering skills coaching and ride leadership to about 1,000 young people every year, including running Mountain biking for large international camps.
I grew up in a Railway town in the “grim up north” east. My elder sister was given a bike one year. I remember I was about six at the time. I saw, even at that age, the freedom my sister gained from having that bike. My father worked well over 100 hrs a week so wasn’t around to teach her to ride. That duty fell to one of our neighbours, and I remember I wanted a go too, but I was deemed too young (“anyway it’s my bike!”).
So over a period of about a week I nipped into the garage (it wasn’t that grim) and rode round and round in circles on a girl’s bike that was too big until I worked out how to do it. I was hooked and apart from periods of time when strange people who were into property distribution decided my (child’s) bike needed to be redistributed (it was bit grim) I’ve had one ever since.
I look back with affection on my Carlton 5 speed racer which I considered my first proper bike. I saved and saved to buy it (with help from my dad and all those long hours) and was somewhat disappointed when it was “redistributed” by someone who decided somebody else had a greater need than me.
My replacement was more of a shopping bike (I really wanted a BMX) but hey the wheels still went round and I rode miles and miles on it until it too was sadly “redistributed”.
This coincided with a move to the Peak district as a 19yr old to find work and get away from the redistribution network.
I bought a new bike to get to work but it wasn’t until the late 80’s I really got into it. I was climbing and caving lots at the time and started riding lots to lose (even more) weight and get fit. Injuries began to curtail my climbing career and my interest in cycling grew. I bought an MTB (my unrequited BMX?) in the late 80’s as mountain biking began to be the “next big thing” and I’ve never been without one since!
Mind you I never stopped road riding either and my youthful competitive nature lead me into XC mountain bike racing. Now most MTB race training is done on the road so I did a lot of it.
I soon discovered I was not possessed of any “talent” for racing what so ever and so progressed into Time Trialling and Triathlon, and also Mountain Bike marathons, which are more like off an road sportive. I think that’s so I was only competing against myself. Much less embarrassing.
By now I was a cycling obsessive and began touring as well, so I could spend my holidays on a bike rather than run the summer lottery of climbing in the Alps. Not the credit card bike packing of today though, nope; I’m talking full on touring for two or three weeks at a time with panniers front and back and camping gear. I’ve had some truly great trips
In 2007 I was starting to look for a career change and I went on an MTB skills course. What a revelation! After 20 years I finally learnt how to ride off road. This lead to me gaining my SMBLA Trail Cycle Leader award in 2008, and I began to work as an mtb guide.
In 2010 I became a full time guide. I don’t just do MTB though and I’ve taken clients on tours such as C2C, The way of the Roses, Dover to Cape Wrath, and I’ve done Lands’ End to John O’Groats so many times I can’t remember exactly how many times I’ve done it.
As my career in “Guiding” evolved I wanted to progress through the qualifications to improve my skills and experience. Initially I began to study for the SMBLA qualification of Mountain Bike Leader, but I discovered that British Cycling were modernising the qualification so it was more relevant to today’s riding styles and bikes. I decided to wait until the qualification went “live” and in July 2016 qualified as a level 3 British Cycling Mountain Bike Guide.
This qualification, arguably, represents the pinnacle of guiding qualifications in this country. For me it represented over a year of work, from beginning the training to completing the assessment so I was pretty chuffed when I was successful.
Since Bradley Wiggins invented cycling in 2012 it has become more popular than any time since the 50’s and we seem to be in a new “golden age”. I for one am pleased to be part of it and would be proud to include you.