Jason Nicholls, head of PE at Courtfields School, has just won the British BMX championships – 24 years since he last won a national title at the age of 13. Jason kindly took a few minutes off from teaching football and hockey to do an exclusive Q & A with Around Wellington:
1. What exactly is the title you’ve won?
British BMX Champion 35-39 yrs
2. What was your previous biggest win
I also won the British Championships when I was 13, way back in 1988. I think that means I`ll be about 61 when I win it again!!!
3. How long have been BMX riding
I started racing when I was 8 yrs old. It was at a local village fete. The course was in a field with a few wooden jumps. I then raced until I was 19yrs old where unfortunately University life and other commitments meant it was too difficult to get to races and so I had to stop. About 4 yrs ago I took my son who was 5 at the time to a BMX race at Exeter. He also got the bug and rather than stand and watch, I thought that as I`m here I might as well have a go again. I did and here I am!!
4. Where and how do you train
I train with Tiverton BMX club who are always on the look out for new members. During the summer months we train on a Tuesday and Thursday from 6-8pm. This involves a lot of start gate practice and sprints as well as specific skill training such as jumping, manualling (which is like pulling a wheelie through a jump) and cornering. During the winter months we train on a Sunday from 10-2pm. This tends to be a bit more fitness based and will involve a bit more endurance. However we still enjoy racing each other so we manage to get some of that in as well. I also ride road bikes and mountain bikes just to add a bit of variety.
5. What bike do you compete on and what is it worth.
As I`m sponsored by Green Machine BMX store Newton Abbott and Kuwahara BMX UK I compete on a Kuwahara Laserlite. Next year I will be changing my bike and racing on the new model – the Kuwahara Lachesis. I will be making a few changes to the stock bike and so new, it will be worth a little over £1000. That said you can get a 2nd hand race bike for around £250.
6. Do you cycle for fun on a road bike.
I enjoy cycling. I have a road bike which is great for summer miles (and also the turbo trainer if it’s wet!!!) I`ve also done the Exmoor Beast a couple of times on it which is very aptly named. Sooooo many Hills!!! I have a mountain bike that I enjoy riding especially on the Quantocks and Haldon forest. I have also entered the Soggy Bottom XC race in January down at Newnham Park – Plymouth
7. Has the British success in theTour de France and Olympics rubbed off on BMX cyclists, and would you aim for the 2016 Games?
The Tour is undoubtedly a great spectacle that enthuses many cyclists and non-cyclists alike. Unfortunately it doesn’t always get the best media attention which I guess is a discussion for another time!!! The Olympics has been great for BMX. To get such as minority sport into peoples living rooms can only be a good thing. I guess the true test will be a hopeful increase in riders at local level getting involved and having fun. Who knows we might even see new tracks springing up.
I think my time for Olympic Glory has long gone!!! These guys are at another level. They eat, live, breathe BMX and have a professional outfit of dieticians, medics, psychologists and personal trainers ensuring they are the best they can be. I have to say that we must give a thank you nod to the velodrome guys who due to their success has allowed British Cycling to invest more money into our sport. The indoor track in Manchester is a great example of this. Let’s not forget that Chris Hoy and a few others started out racing BMX!!
8. Is there a world championship and will you go for it now?
There is indeed a World Champs. It was held in the NIA Birmingham in May 2012. I qualified for this event and was overjoyed to be simply taking part. Unfortunately a poor start meant that I did not progress further than the quarter finals. Very disappointed!!! Next year they are being held in New Zealand so it is unlikely I will get enough funding to make the journey. However, the year after they are being held in Copenhagen which might be an option.
9. Have you taken your bike into school to show pupils?
I have and occasionally they ask to have a closer look. The first thing they do is pick it up to see how light it is! (Unfortunately it weighs a load more when I get on it!!!)
See Jason winning his UK title on this video. His race is about 10 mins into the film and he’s the rider with the green top, 4th from the left.