DISTANCE 31 miles (50km)
MAIN CLIMB Cuttle Hill (East Bridgford)
TOTAL CLIMB 145m
ACHTUNG! Take great care when doing the right turn off the A46.
Jon Mozley is only 21 but he’s been racing for almost 15 years.
“I started riding when I was four. I built a track in the back garden and used to race around that. Then I did loads of under-12 cyclo-cross races in the Notts and Derbyshire league. I really did years of it. I also got into circuit racing and racing on the track. I was lucky living in Derby because there’s loads of racing for kids, even very young ones,” he says before setting off with his directeur sportif, the Tour Féminin rider Cherie Pridham, on this amble through the Trent-side lanes.
They will be used as part of this Sunday’s Great Nottinghamshire Bike Ride, and Mozley has a history with the event. “I did the short route, the 18-miler, when I was five. I remember giving my parents the slip and sneaking through to the front on my little Raleigh Activator while everyone was waiting to start. When they dropped the flag I sprinted like mad and got into the lead, but then I thought I’d better slow down or I’d get into trouble,” he says.
The racer in him was born that day, and Mozley quickly developed into one of the best young road sprinters and criterium riders in the country, but that’s a long way from where he wants to leave it.
“Sprinting and circuit races are what I’m best at now, but I’ve worked hard on my climbing and I’m trying to do well in the Premier Calendars this year,” he says.
Winter hill work, during which Mozley did “a lot of high-cadence climbing in the Peak District, trying to pedal smoothly all the time,” saw him win the hilly Jack Grainger Memorial in front of a good field at the start of this year. He also proved that he’s lost none of his natural speed with a third place in the Eddie Soens race.
Things were going really well until a crash in the Chas Messenger Premier Calendar put him out of race action with a fractured elbow and damaged hand ligaments. It didn’t stop him training though.
“Ben Swift is my best friend and I knew what he’d done last year on his turbo-trainer to keep fit while recovering from his accident. He did over 100 hours in four weeks on his turbo, so I did 44 hours in two weeks on mine. On the last day I tried to do six hours but cracked at five and a quarter. I rode in the garden, just pushing quite a big gear at a steady pace and went through 10 bottles, eight gels and two energy bars.”
Now that’s dedication, but dedication is what Mozley needs if he’s to achieve his ambition. “I want to make a healthy living at this, but for that I’ll have to go abroad. It’s not a problem though, when I was a junior I probably raced more in Belgium than I did in England,” he says.
Some of his peer group are already doing what Mozley wants. He was part of the three- man team that won the junior Paris-Roubaix in 2004, when Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard achieved a one-two. “We were all in the front group, but when Geraint and Ian got away towards the end I policed the group, until a crash near the finish. I was behind the crash, so I finished 24th.”
That result, along with Thomas and Stannard’s track performances saw them processed through the BC Academy into top pro teams, which hasn’t happened to Mozley, but he’s far from downhearted.
“I’m just going to stick at it, keep training hard and keep trying to win. I won a lot as a junior and I’m a bit impatient to win something big at elite level. It’s nice to stand on the podium with the likes of Tony Gibb and the Downings, but I want to win. I’m a sprinter and sprinters have to think like that. Winning a sprint is all about confidence. Once you win you get into a groove and it makes it easier to keep on winning.”
Newark, a fine old town with a beautiful cobbled market that used to host a pro criterium, is a bit busy when we get there, but Mozley and Pridham carefully thread their way through the traffic and are soon back in the lanes, heading for Fiskerton.
The roads are very quiet, so on an open bend I ask Mozley to show off the cornering skill that makes him one of the best criterium racers in the country. It’s pretty to watch — the precise out-in-out line he takes through the bend, the subtle shifts of body position to redistribute his weight on the bike to counter the forces of cornering at speed. “It’s natural now, I’ve been doing it for so long. Plus I built up a lot of skill in cyclo-cross. I’d recommend any young cyclist to have a go at cross, even if they don’t like it. It’s great for improving your bike handling,” he says.
Mozley was very disappointed to miss his favourite Premier Calendar race, the Melton CiCLE Classic, this year because of his injuries, but he hopes to make amends soon. “We’ve got the Blackpool Premier Calendar coming up, and that suits me. I like the Melton Classic though, because it reminds me of Paris-Roubaix. I’d love to do the pro race. That and the Tour of Flanders look amazing races,” he says.
In the meantime, Mozley is looking forward to the rest of this year and his first big win at British elite level. But as well as being thirsty for success Mozley enjoys his cycling. “It’s my way of life. I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I love the adrenaline of racing, but I really enjoy going training too. Cycling gives me a great sense of freedom. You can go out, go where you want. I love it. Even if it’s raining it doesn’t bother me. I’m out riding.”
GREAT NOTTS BIKE RIDE
Now in its 27th year, the Great Notts Bike Ride has got a lot of people into cycling. It’s organised by the Nottinghamshire County Council and is backed by Boots, who take participation very seriously too. Their senior executive team will all ride the 18-mile version of this three- distance event on June 22.
The start and finish is at the Home Pierrepont Sports Centre, with the 18 and 50-mile routes following the River Trent east, then returning to Nottingham after crossing the river at Gunthorpe and Newark respectively.
The big addition this year is a 100-mile ride on the same day, but starting earlier, that is aimed at sportive riders. It uses the 50-mile route to Newark before heading north to skirt the edges of Sherwood Forest, then turns south to Southwell and latches onto the 50-miler again at Fiskerton for the run back to Nottingham. Online entries close today, so you might just be able to get in if you are quick by visiting www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/bikeride.
Much of the route is in a cycling paradise of meandering lanes that see very little traffic. Once east of Gunthorpe there is a network of lanes on either side of the Trent. Then at Newark you can pick up one of the National Byways routes north. Sherwood Forest also has excellent mountain biking facilities.
With its big annual riding festival, its cycling-friendly countryside, Raleigh heritage, and with a long line of cycling champions coming from the county, Nottinghamshire can lay claim to being one of the leading cycling counties in the country.
YOUR GUIDE: JOHN MOZLEY
* Age 21, single, lives in Borrowash near Derby
* Full-time cyclist racing for the Pearl Izumi-PlanetX-High5 team
* Under-23 British elite circuit race winner 2007
Start in Lowdham and head south on the A6097. Turn left (TL) immediately after Gunthorpe Bridge onto unclassified and go through East Bridgford. TL onto the A46 (it’s busy — take care) and immediately turn right (TR) onto unclassified going through Car Colston, Hawksworth, Shelton, Cotham and Hawton to Newark on Trent. TL on the B6166 and TL at the roundabout onto the A617.
TL at Averham onto unclassified and follow it through Rolleston, Fiskerton and Bleasby. At Thurgarton TL on A616 then 1st TL on unclassified through Hoveringham,
Caythorpe and return to Lowdham.
DISTANCE 31 miles (50km)