Team CRC/Nukeproof Manager Nigel Page is one of the sport's greatest ambassadors – organising, mentoring and inspiring our very own downhill and 4X team, helping with product design as well as racing downhill and enduro races when he can find the time. Nigel's roots, however, lay firmly in the BMX scene where he – like many of today's young stars – was introduced to the sport by his father.
The arrival of this year's BMX World Championships in Birmingham, England, was the perfect opportunity for Nigel to get back into the BMX race scene, and the old dude didn't do too badly – finishing in third place in the Cruiser class!
In this feature, Nigel talks us through his route to World Championship success at the 2012 World Champs, including his introduction to the sport, his BMX racing hiatus during the downhill years and getting back into the game. Grab a cup of tea and a biscuit – we hope you enjoy it as much as we did…
"It's been 30 years since I first started BMX racing at the end of 1982. My dad took me to my local BMX track at Three Sisters, Wigan, aged 10. I raced and got a second place trophy. That was it; I was hooked and raced pretty much every week for the next seven years. I was lucky enough that my dad worked hard and my parents took me racing and bought me all the coolest bikes. I absolutely loved it. They are some of the fondest memories of my life. The friends you make racing BMX as a kid end up being friends for life. It is an amazing sport and family!
I stopped racing aged 17 in 1989 (regrettably now) to get a job and do the stuff you do as a stupid teenager. I got back into bikes again around 1995. I bumped into one of my old BMX friends and best mates still, David Ives, at a local BMX track. I went up on my mountain bike in 1996 to have a look around. He said he still raced and they were going to a National in a few weeks, I should get a BMX and come along for a laugh and check it out. So I bought an old Torker frame and built it up and off we went. I ended up winning 17 that day and couldn't believe it!
But then I got seriously into downhilling the year after. I did a couple of BMX races but then that was it – I didn't have time to race BMX. After a lot of injuries I decided to retire from pro downhilling in 2004 and ended up doing a full season of BMX racing again in 2005. I absolutely loved it, it was a great year. I ended up getting British number one in 19 and European number three in 30-39 Cruiser class!
In 2007 I got back into mountain biking and started the Chain Reaction Cycles World Cup team in 2008, so I have been pretty busy and hadn't done any BMX again for the last seven years.
Manchester's new indoor BMX track reignites the passion
Manchester's indoor BMX track was opened this year – I went down there for a ride with my team rider Matti Lehikoinen but was blown away at the size of the jumps and how the sport has progressed just in the last seven years.
After a few more sessions there I bought a cruiser and my BMX mates talked me into trying to qualify for the World Championships that were to be held at the NIA in Birmingham this May. It has been 18 years since Great Britain have held BMX World Championships, so I thought it would be an amazing experience to be involved – especially with the Olympics being later on this summer in London. BMX racing is huge again now, and it's great to see.
I managed to qualify in my 40-44 Cruiser class which has a load of ex-pro BMX riders from the late 80's and 90's that some of them have never quit, that is how addictive BMX racing is and how much of a great sport and lifestyle it is.
Then it turned out that Chain Reaction Cycles were to be an official sponsor of the event and Nukeproof even made me a prototype cruiser – a mind blowing frame for the Worlds! I can't explain how proud I felt being on the gate at the Worlds on my Nukeproof, in Great Britain looking at CRC banners on the first turn. It is something I will never forget!
The Olympic BMX in London is going to be amazing!
Race day at the World Champs 2012
Anyway, Sunday was time for my race and there were 80 of the best Cruiser 40-44 riders in the world, so I knew it was going to be hard just to make it out of the moto heats! You have three moto/heats and you have to finish in the top four to qualify for the 1/8 finals, which are then just one lap knock-out. I managed a second, third, first in my motos, so qualified to the 1/8s. I then finished second or third in my 1/8 and transferred to the 1/4 finals. Each round gets harder as the slower riders are eliminated.
Down the second straight I was in sixth and was starting to worry but I managed a good smooth lap and got back to second into the last corner and passed for the win down the last straight rhythm jumps.
Semi-final time and I was so nervous. One more top four and I would make my first ever BMX World Championships final! I have raced in four previous BMX World Championships; Whistler, Canada in 1985, Orlando, Florida in 1987, Belgium in 1988 and Paris, France in 2005. I made the semi-finals in Belgium and Paris but never a final. The gate dropped and I can't remember exactly what happened but I crossed the line in fourth to make the final! I know I am an old cruiser dude now, but I was so stoked!
We lined up for the final; four British riders, two Dutch riders and two French guys. I was in an outside gate on flat pedals as you get gate choice from how you did in the previous race. As I was fourth in the second semi-final I had last pick. Inside gates are better as you have less distance to get over to the inside of the first turn. The feeling when the announcer called out your name on the gate in front of the GB crowd was something I will never forget!
The gate dropped and I got the gate of my life as I looked across out of the corner of my eye, I was leading halfway down the start hill towards the first double jump. But by the time I hit the second jump going into the first big right hand corner I was in second, I thought I have to go for this and dived on the inside of the Dutch guy leading from gate one! He banged me hard – I was in the lead but lost all my momentum for the second straight. We banged bars again over the triple jump which I then had to ride instead of jumping but I was still leading my first ever Worlds final!