I started racing motocross at age 11 on a Suzuki RM100, but was always into bicycles too, I had MkI and MkII Raleigh Choppers and a "Wheel King" (motorcycle-type bicycle with plastic "fuel" tank and full m/c style front and rear suspension). At a motocross race around 1978 I saw a copy of "BMX Racer" a mag from Hi-Torque publications (Dirt Bike, MX Action, etc) and was blown away by guys doing tabletops and guys racing sidehacks. By 1980 BMX was starting to make some impression in the UK, Ammaco were importing Mongoose's and Puch Murray's were turning up in the high street. We hooked up with some guys in Little Lever near Bolton (of all places!) and made a makeshift BMX track there, I rode a Mongoose Supergoose at that race, I even have some pics which I'll post up here sooner or later. Soon after that we heard of a race at Chatham in Kent (about a 6 hour drive south). We all piled into the back of our van (no windows in the back) and headed down - we were up at like 7am riding 'round the track and no-one showed till about 10am, it was sooo cool though. Rumour had it that the starthill was built on an old Ford Transit van. This was November so it was freezing (literally), we all had a blast but no-one won anything as far as I can remember, although I do recall having massive cramp in my legs on the way home. So that was it - we were hooked! Nothing else mattered - only BMX.
Soon after this BMX Action showed up in our local newsagent (John Crews on a RedLine on the cover) and inside were tons of ads for all these cool BMX bike companies. As I was already selling MX spares at the races out of the back out my parent's van, I figures I'd write to some of the companies and ask if I could be their UK distributor! (I was 16 at the time). From memory people I wrote to were GT, Robinson, Race Inc., CYC, JMC and probably a few others. Only two replied - Robinson and CYC. So at the ripe old age of 16 I was the distributor for those brands. CYC made bikes but were also a major parts distributor, I bought V-bars, wheels, grips and Panda Pro-Am 26" cruisers from them. Anyway, back to the racing. after that (I think) there was a much-hyped race at the infamous Southport track. All sand (being by the seaside) and with a 2 foot tall rubber start gate. I won this (on a RedLine Pro Line) and our other Team guys hauled ass too. I got interviewed for Official BMX and this appeared in #2 of the mag. The next big race was at Worlably in the East of country (Humberside?). Team Alans ruled at that race! Craig Borrows won, I got 2nd and Mike Chilvers was 3rd. Right after that I got an offer of sponsorship from Kuwahara (via their importer Gecko)... but the Robinsons were coming! Right around this time I got a brand new 1981 YZ125H Yamaha, but only raced it once at the start of '81 - after that I was 100% BMX.
We received our first Robinson shipment in February of 1981 and most of this first batch went to local riders including Craig Borrows, Fenwick Carr, Dave Arnold, Jason Ramsden and Stuart Carr, plus myself. Check out our very first ad from BMX News at the start of 1981. I can't think what our Robinson debut was... but Easter of that year we got an offer from Chuck Robinson to go our and race in California. Chuck was just awesome, he hooked us up with Torker (and Max clothing) right away and took us to see Voris Dixon (VDC), Vans, Bob Haro (Bob gave us plates and stickers himself) and took us all the tracks in So Cal (Van Nuys, Monrovia, Azusa, Ascot, Devonshire Downs, Orange, Canyon Country and a National at Rancho, San Diego). You could race every night of that week back then - and do two races each day on Saturday and Sunday).
1981 was the first year of a National BMX (UKBMX) race series in the UK and we cleaned up. By the end of the year I won the 16yr age group. We were a shop and we we sold to dealers Robinson, Torker, Max, Wizard No. plates and other stuff.
Part 2 coming soon...