MK19 is already looking like a huge event coming up this August that’s going to take place over in the UK. Bob Haro, Harry Leary, Craig Campbell, Alan Woods, Tom Lynch and John Buultjens are just a few of the names on the roster with an even rumored Andy Ruffell appearance. The Old Skool community continues to grow worldwide with events, ride out and gatherings going on, which is cool to see.
The NBMXA 1984 season opener at Nottingham featured in BMX Bi-Weekly Volume 4 Issue 8. With registration, practice and a full National with over 700 riders to be ran in just one day, the NBMXA crew got caught off guard and by the semis, as they had run out of day light and didn’t have floodlights. So, the race had to be postponed before the finals and finished as a double-header National later in the year. UKBMX regular Chris Simmons (Diamond Back) who at the time was looking to redeem himself in Nottingham after crashing out at the 83 Derby British Championships but after the lights went out he’d have to wait another day.
If you’ve not already checked it out there is a pretty cool Facebook Page at the moment that’s caught some steam in the UK BMX Old and Mid School World: We Were RAD. Basically, Anthony Frascina, Andrew Rigby and Clint Pilkington are putting together a British history book of BMX and people have been submitting photos, stories and interviews via the Facebook group. Check it out, there are some great images and it’s super cool the guys are documenting more British BMX history moving forward.
PC: John Davis
1984 NBMXA National at Bromsgrove in the West Midlands has got to go down as one of the muddiest UK Nationals of the 80s and probably 90s as well thinking about it. What did make this race interesting was appearances from GT/US riders; Robert Fehd, Kevin Hull and Darwin Griffin who had made the trip over. Fehd and Hull went 1st and 2nd in 17+ but Griffin had problems and didn’t feature top 3 in his class (15 expert) which was won by the new kid on the block at the time, Gary Llewellyn, who had just got onto Mongoose earlier that year.
Image of the entrance of the Derby Greyhound Stadium which closed down in 1988 – after being a staple on the NBMXA side in racing, hosting the very first British Championships in 1983 sponsored by Halfords, until the last British Championships in 1988. Even though it seemed like the 80s boom had peaked, over 1,000 riders competed.
Photo: Derby Telegraph
Outwell outdoor – John Bilner (5), Lee Flavin (outside) Steve Gilley (6), Scott Barber (1 Torker). Lee Flavin went onto ride for Redline, Raleigh and Rainbow JMC and place 2nd at the 83 Slagharen Worlds. Steve Gilley went to Kuwahara Factory soon after this shot but along with Scott Barber had left the sport by 1984. Lee Flavin retired a few years after with only John Bilner continuing to race into the 90s.
It’s very rare these days that riders are both good/compete at Freestyle (is it even called that now?) and Racing, as they seem worlds apart. The closest all around riders that shred today at both would be Barry Nobles and Vic Behm in the US. Back in the 80s/90s it was pretty common that guys could do both at high levels especially when Dirt Jumping Comps kicked in during the 90s with guys like Stephen and Martin Murray, Dylan Clayton, Keith Duly, Tony Fleming, Kye Forte, Clive Gosling and Paul Roberts (among others) raced and hit up the KOD events which ran during a National race weekend.
Chris Young is a name you will be more familiar with if you know your early 80s BMX roots in the UK. Chris was National number 1 riding for teams like Mongoose and Torker before crossing over into Freestyle. Chris went onto ride and Tour with Skyway in the UK with Andy Patterson, Billy Stupple and Skyway Team in 83 putting on demos and really promoting the sport up and down the country which was well-documented at the time through the mags. Chris rode in the 1984 Kelloggs, jumped over cars but kind of disappeared from the scene by the mid 80s. Still, so many great images of Chris floating around online today.
After retiring from racing in the early 90’s, Tom Lynch became a London Ambulance Service paramedic and is the pioneer behind the cycle response units who have served the Capital since 2000. Tom’s initiative has saved countless lives as cycle paramedics can navigate London’s busy streets faster than regular Ambulance vehicles.
We were asked by the London Ambulance service to design a sew-on badge to celebrate and recognise the outstanding achievement of 25 years dedicated service with the London Ambulance Service by our friend, inspiration and mentor Tom Lynch MBE.
For anyone who hasn’t heard of him, Lee Alexander was one of the big guns of the 1980s, regularly banging elbows with the likes of Stu Diggens, Tom Lynch, Tim Print and of course his local long-term nemesis Darren Wood.
After gaining a nation number 20 in his first full season in 1983, Lee steadily climbed the table throughout the following years, finally winning national number one in 1986.
After that, he moved into the Superclass and then Pro categories where he more than made his presence felt among the established stars there.
As a rider, Lee was super-consistent. While most of his rivals would proudly list the handful of national mains they’d made throughout the season, Lee, when asked, would quietly tell you he’d made them all!
But Lee’s riding career wasn’t limited to the old school. Well into the third millennium, he added a British Championships cruiser win to his list of titles.
– Chris Carter
Adrian Warden caught up with him at a gate session at Norwich.
This interview came about the same way sponsorship often happens – through being in the right place at the right time. It would have been cool if Norwich club had tempted Maris Strombergs to come to town, but we let it slip. Also Dylan Clayton was booked six months previously to run a talent spotting session at our club. Alas, with just over a week’s notice, it got moved to another venue. The #superfan was on his arse after hearing the bad news.
The day after that, I got a text saying Lee Alexander was coming to ride at the track. I’d not seen him ride since his career-ending crash at Royston a few seasons previously. You’ll do for me, I thought, and grabbed my bike and a pen and paper, with an idea to get a little interview from him.
I raced Lee a bunch of times but never scalped him. Not even in a moto. When you’re in the pens with Lee, especially in a semi or main, he’s always pumped and excited and wants to win it. It feels good to be with him, if you get my drift.
Today he is very involved with coaching at his club Royston Rockets, and is looking ahead to possibly taking over the chairmanship of the East Anglia region next year. He’s gonna shake a few things up, I reckon.
Anyway, I arrive at the track and Lee is decked out in full black and yellow Rockstar kit. In between a few gates and hitting up some of our bigger jumps, I fire off some questions:
So what are your best moments in BMX?
Crumbs, there are so many. [Laughs]. My first trophy at Wimborne indoor – my parents had left me alone at the race. Bercy (France) in 1985 was good. I scraped 4th in the motos, 4th in the quarters and 4th in the semi. I lined up for the main. Dean Iddiols was in the race in front. He turned round and asked, “How’s your gates?”
“Shit,” I said.
“I can help you out. Go on the first colour you see.”
I killed it and won. Fans were going mental with massive sticker tosses and hats thrown out that sponsors had given me. I also won the Pontins race, 15 boys. Another good win was an Anglo-Euro race at Ipswich under lights. I took the 1984 Brits win with 1st all day. And of course the 2009 cruiser win at Cheddar Brits.
How about your worst days?
1986 Euro Champs. I didn’t get to race because of not being registered. I blame UKBMX for that one. Lol. 1986 worlds. I turned 17 on the day so had to race 17+. Aced the motos. I think there was 16ths? If so, I won mine. Won the eighth. Went over the gate in the quarter. At the 2012 worlds I crashed first lap of practice going into turn one. Busted ribs. Funnily enough though, you never think of injuries as your worst days. I think that’s true of most riders.
So what is your injury count?
Here goes: fractured ankle; broken fingers; broken knuckles – that hurt, I can tell you; punctured kidney; broken elbow; two concussions; a knockout; snapped radius. [You can still see the damage from that when he rolls his sleeve up].
[Grins]. I took Tony Fleming out to win Redcar National.
What about getting taken out?
CJ Butler got me good at the Brits on 20-inch. Last turn. It was raining. I ploughed into a marshal who dropped his coffee in my lap. I thought I’d pissed myself for a while. Darren Wood was the other one. It was the 1986 Worlds, cruiser semi. I was third and he was fourth. Boom. I was gone. I asked him, “Why do it?”
“You’ve done it to me often enough,” he said.
“But it’s the worlds!”
You have no World plates then?
[Lee stares at the floor and shakes his head]. No. That still hurts.
Any pictures in the mags etc?
Nice last turn shot at Cheddar in Fastlane. A 1984 Kuwahara advert. Riding #20 on the plate. Both feet blown off the pedals as I was blasting out of a turn at Hayes. BMX Racer and Freestyle mag for the Bercy win. A decent ad for Scorpion. Also made the cover or back page of the rule book.
Who’s our next Elite in a World final?
Keep them. But if you had asked me when I was racing, the answer would have been get rid.
NO! [Scornfully]. NO, NO, NO!
Three Elite mains?
Yes. Give the fans the maths before the last one. I want to get three mains going for our superclass at regionals as well.
Any other interviews?
A ‘Me and my Bike’ feature in BMX Action Bike magazine. A profile page in BMX Racer and Freestyle magazine. And there was a short interview on telly (Channel 4) for the Kelloggs race in 1985.
What are your thoughts on the Manchester indoor?
Elite only. I’ve never ridden it and cringe watching kids on it. Not sure what that last straight is all about.
It’s just not BMX is it!
What’s with the women’s funding at British cycling?
Don’t know anything about it mate.
How do you roll?
If there was a coaches’ race, who’d win it?
What about Bloomie?
Still me! Haha!
What’s happening with BMX right now. Up/down?
Upward curve, I reckon. I’m all about the grass roots, more racing, flat pedals, skills, promo. We need to get it on telly more. Chris Carter, Simon Hayes… you listening? You work in that field!
How’s the glass back? [Lee suffered with two prolapsed discs requiring surgery].
There’s some bits missing. I think looking back it made me put too much pressure on myself, thinking it could be the last time I race all the time.
Any last thoughts?
I just love riding my bike, you know. Just ride for fun. It’s what it’s all about. I miss the banter in the pens. The adrenalin. Being in there with 7 other guys that want to win. It’s the feeling. Yes, I miss that feeling.
Mick Brown interviews all of the big names at the 1984 Kelloggs’s round 1 at Hounslow. Andy Ruffell won Superclass with French Champion Claude Vuillemot in 2nd and Big Trev Robinson in 3rd. In the US Pro Class, Main Mongoose’s Eric Rupe took the win over Torker’s Mike Miranda and Brian Patterson rounding off in 3rd to kick off a very successful Kellogg’s Series.
PC: Daryl Gibbard
Lee Alexander not only rode for Kuwahara National / Stows, Ivor Clark, Boogie, Scorpion, Hutch, Links and later Free Agent, but he was also the only British rider to win the French Bercy International. He was one of the few guys that raced Superclass, Pro, then back to Superclass when the Pro Class dismantled back in 1988. Lee is riding and coaching today and more importantly, still rocking flat pedals.
Paul Roberts had this to say about him when we were checking a few Lee Alex facts while putting this together.
“Realistically as fast as anyone on his day. Whether that was Bercy or the Champion of Champions, it didn’t matter. There wasn’t a rider in our age that he didn’t just flat out beat when he was on. Also, Pro level banter and funny as f$&k to travel and hang out with. I’m stoked to say I got to spend a lot of time with “Alex” and a lot of that time was spent laughing our heads off.”