About Me

Who is this guy that rambles on about mountain bike racing?  And why does he feel the need to blog about it anyway? . . . Read on to find out why!

Well, it's pretty obvious my name is Derek Shanks and I'm a mountain biker!  But what got me into all this?

I'm just a normal guy with a "9 to 5" job who happens to be a bit obsessive about mountain biking!  

Truth be told, I actually hated mountain biking the very first time I tried it.  My friends and (now) wife, took me on a red trail when I'd never even thrown my leg over a mountain bike before . . . surprisingly, I crashed a few times and swore I'd never get on a mountain bike again!  However, they persuaded me to try it one more time, took me to Glentress, and listened to me curse my way the whole way up the climb.  But, yes, you guessed it:  at the bottom of the Spooky Wood descent, I had a massive grin on my face and I was absolutely hooked!

That was only about 5 years ago as I write this now.  And, yes, I ain't that young!  (36 to be precise).  I cycled as a child just like everyone else.  I had an awesome BMX just like all the other kids.  I even got quite into road riding when I was in my mid-teens.  I played hockey as a teenager too.  Even got quite fit at one point.  But then, like a lot of us, university comes along and so does booze, nights out, sleeping in, and not exercising very much!

I got into skiing in my late twenties and loved it.  When I met my wife, she got into skiing so she could join me on the slopes.  Her friend had got her into mountain biking too, so it was only fair I tried it so I could join her too.  And following that first attempt described above, I loved it and got hooked.

I won't deny I have a rather obsessive personality, so when a couple of friends asked us if we wanted to try doing a 24 hour mountain bike race with them in a team of 4 (Sleepless in the Saddle), I soon found myself loving the pain and the training involved.  I loved the feeling of crossing the finish line.

That was my first year of mountain biking, so the following year I tried a 24 hour race in a pair with another friend and we won the male pairs at Relentless 24.  So the next obvious step was solo!  I was training harder and it was paying off.  I was getting fitter, losing weight and really enjoying it.  When I started to get top 10 results at solo 24 hour races I knew I was doing not too bad for a late starter to the sport.

Around the turn of the year in 2014 I decided to take my racing a bit more seriously and give Cross Country (XC) a go.  At the same time, through my good results on the endurance MTB scene and a few chance conversations, I was lucky enough to gain sponsorship from the Alpine Bikes Trek Store in Glasgow, who I continued to ride for until the end of the 2015 season.  

That's why I started this blog.  In return for the sponsorship deal, as well as wearing Alpine Bikes kit and generally promoting the store, I agreed to start a blog to provide race reports and training tips.  I've been on quite a journey myself.  I don't claim to be talented - I just know how to work hard and practice until I eventually get the hang of something.  If I can give a little back to the amazing mountain bike community that has helped me out on so many occasions, then perhaps my blogs will be useful to others considering taking their training or racing a bit more seriously.  So, that's why I write this blog and I hope people do find it useful.

After putting in a hard winter of training, my efforts paid off and I did really well in the Masters category of the Scottish XC Series.  I did alright in the British XC series too, especially for my first year.  I still put in some good results in the Endurance races, where my strengths still lie to this day.

2015 didn't go so well mainly due to illness and a couple of mechanicals in races, but I had moved up to the Elite/Expert category in the Scottish series and still finished 6th overall despite missing two races and DNF'ing one.

For 2016, it's all new and exciting.  I've moved to ride for a new sponsor: Origins Fitness.  I'm so motivated and it's great to have the support of this fantastic gym.  Not only do they help me with my strength training and nutrition but it feels great to support a local business run by some friendly and knowledgeable Personal Trainers.

I've reset my targets for 2016 and I'm determined to take my training to the next level . . . keep an eye on the blog to see how it all works out!

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