Can you introduce yourself and let our readers know a little bit about you?
My name is Martin and I am addicted to cyclocross. You’ve probably seen me skulking about at races over the last few years taking photos or marshalling. I grew up in Girvan and the famous stage race there was my introduction to cycle sport. I’m a web developer by trade but have always enjoyed photography, so it was a surprise that it took me until 2009 to start taking a camera to bike races. Three seasons ago I found the Scottish Cyclocross Facebook group and started sharing my photos (and blogs when I had time to write them) an since then I feel like I’ve become a part of the community, making lots of new friends through a shared love of our crazy sport.
Thanks to the support of many of you I’ve just set up Following the Wheel, a cycling photography, race reporting and event communications company. Typically I’m moving to New Zealand just before the start of the Scottish CX season and won’t get to cover the series that inspired me to set up the company in the first place! I will be doing interviews and features with some of you and hopefully you’ll join me as I discover the New Zealand cyclocross scene.
How long have you been involved in cyclocross?
Since early 201 as a spectator. Dipped my toe in a race last year, which was a shock to the system!
What got you into the sport in the first place?
I remember channel surfing one morning and coming across some Cyclocross, maybe on TransWorld Sport. It looked absolutely nuts and I started watching other videos online. Pretty soon I saw that there was a Scottish Championship coming up and it was only 30 miles down the coast at Irvine so I had to go.
Can you remember the first CX race you went to, and how did it go?
The postponed 2010 Scottish Championships in early 2011. I couldn’t really tell what was going on with all the different categories being mixed into the same race but it was even more entertaining in person than it was on TV. There were a few races I recognised from watching crits the previous year and Katie Archibald was racing too. Couldn’t tell you who won on the day but I was hooked.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at a cross race?
Probably the scariest thing was at the World Cup in Milton Keynes last year, when a kid fell on the steep hill and slid under the barriers and onto the course at ‘suicide corner’. Someone grabbed them just before the leaders came down the hill!
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done at a race, on or off the bike?
Not seeing the first hurdle in the Irvine cyclists v harriers race last year (my first race). It was about 30 metres after the start and I was just getting up to speed when I found it, thankfully it was a pile of tyres and didn’t hurt much. Off the bike I’ve fallen down the dune at Irvine and the Antonine Wall at Falkirk, thankfully both times there was nobody else around!
Do you have a favourite course, either to ride, or to spectate?
I love all of the courses for various reasons but think Irvine pips it. Maybe it has the benefit of being my first, but the backdrop of Arran and Ailsa Craig across the Clyde is very hard to beat.
Are there any riders you particularly admire?
All of them! Seriously, how long do I have? On the Scottish scene Brendan Roe’s dominance is incredible, every race is a masterclass in techniqu and he has so much power. Likewise, the work Dave Hamill puts into technique is obvious when you see him.
I’ve loved being able to follow the development of the new and/or younger riders. Isla Short, Kerry MacPhee and Lucy Grant are growing into world class mountain bikers and Eileen Roe is on the world’s best road racing team. Grant Ferguson might be a world champion by the time this is published. There’s so much talent on show it’s hard to single anyone out.
On the world stage I’m a massive fan of Sanne Cant. I don’t think anybody works harder than her and I like that she’s not afraid to show some emotion.
Any particular highlights from last season?
Rab Wardell v Davie Lines at Callendar Park was really exciting, s was Kerry MacPhee v Isla Short at Auchentoshan. The mudfest at Lochore Meadows was brilliant to watch, there was one point when not a single rider in the spiral of doom was on their bike. I also had the pleasure there of getting to photograph Eileen Roe’s first podium in Wiggle Honda kit.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most this season?
While I won’t be at the races in person this year I’ll be following them as closely as ever. I’m always excited to see how the younger racers do. We’ve got so much young talent like Erika Allen, Emma Borthwick, Jenny Holl, Rhona Callander, Harry Johnstone, Calum Magowan… I really hope we can keep them in the sport and watch them develop. If they want it, I’m pretty sure any of those could go far. Can anyone break Brendan’s hold on Vet50? There should be some epic racing in the women’s category, Anne Ewing and Jane Barr are in fine form just now.
More than anything though I’m excited for the sheer number of races and seeing the sport grow.