Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? If I could go back and do things differently with what I know now, I would. And if I could, I might stand a slightly better chance of realising my dream of being a motorcycling world champion. Because I made plenty of mistakes, too many bad decisions and spent most of my racing career concentrating on the wrong things. So I thought I’d put together some words of advice that, if I could, I’d impart to a 10 year old me, or to anyone who wants to become a world champion bike racer.
Don’t be shy
You don’t get anything for being shy. When you’re trying to make a name for yourself in any sport, you need to make yourself known, whether you’re good at the sport or not. And bike racing is no exception. I spent too long keeping myself to myself, and it’s not helpful. It doesn’t matter how good you are, you’re not going to get offered that ride if the team boss has never heard of you. And you’re not going to get offered that sponsorship deal unless you go out there and ask for it.
Of course it helps if you can back up your personality with a few wins. But don’t underestimate how important it is to let people know that you have a personality.
Social media IS important
And these days, that’s one thing social media is good for. When I was growing up, racing bikes, I couldn’t really be arsed with social media. I thought it was just for posers and couldn’t see the importance of it (other than to keep in touch with mates and chat girls up). But it’s so important. Because if you want to progress through the ranks of motorcycle sport, unless you’re a bitcoin millionaire, you’re probably going to need someone to help you pay for it. And whilst some sponsors just want to get involved to help you out and feel part of it, the big ones tend to want more. So if you can promote their product or service to your 100,000 Instagram followers, as well as win a few races for them, they’re more likely to sign you that cheque.
You’re fast, so what?
If you’re working on your sponsorship pitch, remember, don’t just bang on about how many races you’re going to win. Whenever I did that, it didn’t get me very far. You don’t need to convince them how fast you are, they’ll have already done their research. You need to convince them why investing in you is a good idea. How are they going to make their money back? What are you going to make sure they make their money back? How can you promote them, other than by winning races with their logo on your chest? Can you invite them to your events? Can you be available for their events? You need to think about how you can give them real value, and it sometimes pays to think outside the box.
Take nothing for granted
If you’ve been lucky enough to find the money to go racing, make sure you enjoy it, and make the most of it, because it might not last. Whether you’re spending your parents cash, sponsorship money or your own fortune, money can come and go. Mum and dad might lose their jobs, a sponsor might go bust and bitcoin might crash (again). So be grateful for what you’ve got, and don’t forget to thank whoever you need to thank, whenever you get the opportunity. And if you can’t find an opportunity, make one. Don’t leave it until you need some more money to get in touch with them. Keep them posted with your results, good and bad. And let them know of any changes to your racing plans, before you go public with them. Make them feel part of it.
Put the effort in
Like in any sport, to excel you need to be fit, strong and healthy. So as much as you enjoy getting pissed with your mates, eating cheese burgers and dancing the night away, it won’t help you win a World Championship. You’ve got to be fit and fully focused, which gets harder and harder as you get older.
But if you put the effort in and make good decisions. Then, if you’ve got enough talent, you just might end up being a world champion. With a bit of luck. Actually, you’ll need a lot of luck.