Chasing the dream: Josh Ibbett writes for Bikemagic

Introducing our newest contributor, Josh Ibbett is the current South Downs Way Double record holder and is aiming for the top spot this season. And he’ll be keeping us updated every turn of the pedal.

So it looks like my blog has hit mainstream cycling media! The guys at Bikemagic have been incredibly supportive to me over the past few years so when I was presented with the opportunity to write a blog for the website I was more than happy to accept. Hopefully I can provide an insight into my crazy cycling life and show you what it takes to ‘chase the dream’.

I guess the best way for me to start is to give an short introduction about my self and an overview of the year ahead. This year will be my 10th season of racing. I started racing cross-country when I was 14 in 2002 and to be honest I was rubbish!

I still remember my first race very clearly, it was an round of the Eastern Region series at Thetford Forest and I was so nervous that I false started so we were all were called back. Then when we finally set off I was pretty pathetic and finished near the back of the field. Fortunately I didn’t just give up there and then. Something made me want more so once again I lined up at the next round of the series, this time armed with new SPD pedals. Surely I would be so much quicker this time! I managed not to false start which was progress, however I did managed to miss my pedal, loose my balance and fall off just after the start line while all the other kids laughed at me as they rode away.

This experience still didn’t dampen my enthusiasm so the following year I entered the first round of the National Points Series this time as a youth. The start was OK and the race satisfactory, I believe I finished 23rd which was OK for me. I even survived the pisstaking that my race number attracted. It was 911 and I was adamant that it was good as Porsche 911′s were fast cars. Everyone else thought it was more amusing to compare it to the American emergency services number though.

So after that first Nationals race the bug truly bit me. My parents then began carting me around the country racing for the rest of my time at school. I progressed steadily and made it consistently into the top 10 as a first year junior as well as spending a few years on the British Cycling Talent Team.

Then I blew it. I raced too much, trained too hard, fried my brain at school too much, didn’t eat enough and imploded. My second year as a junior was miserable and I pretty much stopped racing for a year. Luckily this coincided with starting university so I was soon able to distract myself from bikes with alcohol and dancing.

Gradually my desire to ride and race again returned as did my fitness. I was now living in Cardiff and suddenly had proper mountain bike trails right on my door step, a far cry from flat Cambridgeshire where I grew up. Gradually I developed bike handling skills and confidence and most importantly the love of riding returned. The summer of my second year at uni was the best.

People had been nagging me to try an enduro for quite a while so finally I gave in a took part in the Torchbearer 12h at Twentyfour12. I rode those 12-hours as hard as I could, it seemed totally effortless and made total sense to me. I won the race which helped and from that moment forward Josh the enduro racer was born.

Since that race I have gradually built my enduro experience and fitness up and have collected a couple of decent results in the process. I won my first solo 24-hour at Relentless24, then came close to pulling of a shock victory at the National 24-hour championships in 2010 (my second 24hr race). Ultimately inexperience cost me that day and I faded to 3rd place but now had the confidence that I could become the top UK enduro racer (a goal which I am still working at).

Last year wasn’t the greatest for me race wise but I did manage to set a new record for the South Downs Double which kind of made up for it.

So 2012 is set to be a big year for me. I’m going it alone sponsorwise this year and have managed to put together a great set of sponsors who have committed to support me with product and equipment through out the year. I’m very happy to be officially riding for Santa Cruz UK. I have ridden the Tallboy to all of my best results and love it to bits. The fact that I will now have a shiny new Tallboy to race on plus a Highball hardtail makes me a very lucky bike rider.

The North Face will also be providing me with their brilliant kit. There will be no excuses for getting out in every type of weather now. USE and Exposure lights have kindly agreed to provide me finishing kits for my bike and their excellent range of lights so I can see in the dark. They are also very understanding employers and enable me to be flexible with time off so that I am able to train and race. Thanks guys!

I will also be rolling on some pretty cool equipment. Reynolds will be providing me with their new XC29er wheel set, its super stiff, light, looks awesome and makes a satisfying echoey clunk when you shift gears (very important). No wheelset is complete with out some good tyres and thankfully Schwalbe will be helping me with the best rubber going.

Nutrition is key for any race and they guys at Torq have agreed to continue supporting me into 2012. I can’t wait to pop a caffeine gel at hour 18 of a 24hr race… its magic! Lezyne will be providing me with tools and pumps to keep my shiny new bikes in good working order and to keep those Schwable tyres pumped up.

All bikes need a little bit of bling on them and I am lucky enough to have a bling sponsor too. Mt Zoom will be helping me with some nice shiny light bits. These are the bits that make all the difference as every one know that red things go faster!I’m hoping not to crash too much but accidents do happen.

Kask helmets will be making sure my head doesn’t damage the floor too much if I do crash. I will also be keeping things smooth with Juice lubes chain lube and Chapeau Chamoix cream.

Here’s a quick video to show case my sponsors (note: I avoided showing the application of Chapeau chamoix cream!)

2012 promo from Josh Ibbett on Vimeo.

So now that I’ve announced all these wonderful sponsors what am I going to do? Well the schedule is pretty full already. Racing kicks off with a couple of stage races. I will be returning to Spain for the week long Andalucia Bike race at the end of February before jetting off to South Africa for the Cape Epic at the end of March. I will be racing these races in a pair with super quick (and fellow Santa Cruz rider) Ben Thomas. Hopefully I can keep up with him.

Upon my return from South Africa will will once again have a crack at the National 24hour champs. Fingers crossed I can recover, 3rd time lucky! After that I will build up to my first solo attempt at Mountain Mayhem, lets just hope the sun stays out.

So that’s enough of my ramblings for now. Next week I head off to Gran Canaria for 10 days hard training. I will report back once I have a sun tan!

Josh Ibbett

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