Interview, 1x10Gordon Watt

1x10: Harry Johnston

Interview, 1x10Gordon Watt
1x10: Harry Johnston

The current leader of the 2016 Raleigh SCX Mens Series tells us how he got into CX, and what the rest of the season holds.

Photo: Andy Innes

1. Can you introduce yourself and let our readers know a little bit about you?
I’m Harry Johnston, I’m 19 and I’m a second year medical student who rides for Leslie Bike Shop/ Biker’s Boutique in my spare time. 

2. How long have you been involved in cyclocross?
I’ve been racing CX since the youth category but I’ve only really been taking it seriously this season. 

3. What got you into the sport in the first place?
After a year or two of racing cross-country mountain biking I was introduced to cyclocross as a way of keeping fit over the winter and quickly discovered how effective it is both for cross country and road racing.

4. Can you remember the first CX race you went to, and how did it go?
My first race was at Strathclyde Park on my mountain bike. It was that infamous year where seemingly everybody ripped their rear mech off, and I remember slogging it round freezing and stopping every lap to dig the mud out of my triple-chainset with a stick so I could keep on turning my pedals! I even managed to come 2nd which got me hooked.

5. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at a cross race?
The craziest thing I’ve seen in cyclocross was the whole of HalloX this year. The concept was hilarious and some of the outfits were ridiculously impractical yet people were still racing as hard as ever, because who cares if you’re wearing inflatable bat-wings so big they cause you to crash, or that you’re racing on a BMX to complete that perfect ET-outfit!

6. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done at a race, on or off a bike?
One race that makes me cringe when I think back was Scottish Junior Road Race Championships last year, where I hadn’t been keeping an eye on how many laps we had left, and I ended up sprinting for the line and sitting up on the penultimate lap thinking I’d come second, only for the rest of the bunch to continue riding past me.

7. Do you have a favourite course, either to ride, or to spectate?
My favourite course has to be Irvine. I can’t think of any other cross races in the UK that allow you to pretend you’re smashing it along the dunes of Koksijde with loads of people cheering and heckling you. I do love the scenery and remoteness of Mull though too.

8. Are there any riders you particularly admire?
I admire any of the riders who continue to enthusiastically turn up to every single cyclocross race despite getting repeatedly freezing and mud-soaked and continue to push themselves at each round, and especially those riders who also take it upon themselves to organise a race because without them, we wouldn’t have the same thriving cyclocross community here in Scotland, and it’s something I think we should all be proud of.

9. Any particular highlights from this season?
My highlight would have to be unexpectedly winning Dig in at the Dock in January. The course was great and I don’t think I’ve experienced crowds like it in the UK before, it really spurred me on and made me feel pro!

10. Finally, what are you looking forward to in the last few races of the season?
I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to wrap up the Scottish CX Series and take the Scottish Champs title too, and then being able to make the most of Mull and all the festivities there. And of course being able to race my bike dressed as Santa and nobody questioning it!