Created as a way for these young and up coming riders to race and gain experience at the highest level.
555Gravity Racing is brand new, set up at the end of 2020 lets chat to the Mark as one of the guys behind this new team and see what was the thinking behind it.
LET US START WITH WHO IS THE MASTER MIND BEHIND 555GRAVITY RACING?
I guess we have two masterminds, Roy, Ryan’s Dad and myself though we like to include the boys in the decision process as they tend to know more than us….
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND MARK?
I am a nutritional biochemist by trade and following the completion of my PhD in 1996 I worked for an animal feed company for 18 years. Then I left and followed my dream setting up my own bike shop, OrangeFox Bikes in 2014. I have always enjoyed running and cycling, originally road biking. My son, Douglas was more interested in mountain biking and from the age of about six I had to learn some new skills and take him.
WHERE DID 555GRAVITY RACING COME FROM?
The height difference between the start gate at the World Cup track in Fort William and the finish line is 555m. As a team based in the North of Scotland this is a much-frequented track which the boys know better than most, so it seemed a fitting tribute to Aonach Mòr! Gravity Racing needs no explanation……but it does allow us to race enduro as well as Downhill if we wish.
WHO IS RIDING FOR 555GRAVITY RACING THIS YEAR?
We are absolutely thrilled at how the team has worked out. It started with Ryan Brannen and Douglas Goodwill, both juniors but we obviously wanted some experience to help them and ideally UCI points. Calum McBain is the current Scottish DH Champion and has been wanting to race World Cups for a while so it was an absolute no brainer including him. Luke Williamson, 2x National Junior DH Champion found himself without a ride following two years with Propain Factory Racing. A young lad with factory experience and boundless ambition and enthusiasm fitted the team perfectly.
HOW WAS IT SETTING UP A NEW TEAM?
If I’m honest more than a little daunting and it has been an exceptionally fast learning curve! But Rick Clarkson at British Cycling has been tremendous. It has been a lot of hard work but I guess fun too and next year should be easier.
HOW ARE YOU FEELING COMING INTO THE SEASON?
We’re all buzzing! I think it’s a tremendous achievement starting a new UCI MTB Team and it gives the boys a chance to compete in World Cups without the uncertainty of applying for a National Jersey. They have all been training hard during the off season and we have been doing a lot of testing with the bikes and suspension. Morale and confidence is high but I think it is important they are allowed to do their best with no pressure or expectation.
Racing at an International level is a phenomenal achievement in its own right and apart from Luke this is their first season of World Cups for the other boys, we will do everything we can so they can all perform at their best. It will be a fantastic and fun experience for us all.
WHO IS SUPPORTING THE TEAM?
We have a number of trade supporters including Silverfish Ltd (100% Goggles and Cushcore inserts), Saddleback Ltd (TLD Clothing and protection); Extra UK (Crank Bros pedals / shoes and Maxxis tyres); 2pureUK (Lizard Skins Grips) .
We have also been very grateful for cash gifts from a few generous local businesses but most of the cost is coming from OrangeFox Bikes and the boys themselves.
FORGETTING THE NATIONAL SITUATION RIGHT NOW, IF YOU COULD GET THE TEAM TOGETHER FOR A MEET UP AND RIDE WHERE WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
That’s a good question! The obvious answer is Fort William as it is a long, testing track the boys all know not far from home for three of the Team at least.
But we haven’t been to the Welsh Bike Parks so I think they would be a good place for some riding, testing and craic. If funding was also provided somewhere warm would be good too….maybe Perhaps Lousã.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE RIDERS WILL DO?
As I mentioned earlier it is a huge year for all of them. This will be Luke’s first season as an Elite so it would be fantastic for him to follow Jamie Edmondson and consistently top 20…. A podium would be a dream!
Calum, although older and an experienced National racer in addition to racing a few EWS races hasn’t raced a World Cup yet. I think he will come on quickly as he gains experience, so qualification is the aim and we’ll see how it goes, gaining points and next season could be a good one for him!
Ryan is second year Junior, selected for the GB World Champs Team 2020 but could go due to COVID restrictions. We saw how well the GB Juniors did and Ryan is up there, exciting!
Douglas is a first year Junior and I think this has to be taken as an opportunity to gain experience, but he is lucky enough to be riding with both Greg Williamson and Jamie Edmondson (both Inverness based).
There is so much British Junior talent at the moment it could be a fantastic season for them all – the future is certainly bright!
WHAT IS HAPPENING WITHIN THE TEAM AND THE SERIES AT THE MOMENT REGARDING THE CURRENT GLOBAL SITUATION?
The COVID restrictions are obviously causing havoc with all our lives. We’re not in the lucky position of having training camps planned in warm countries and the boys haven’t all met up at all yet. We are all training hard individually and riding our local trails.
It’s not ideal, but safety has to come first and we can’t become complacent with this virus. The team is young and they have plenty of time.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GOAL FOR THE UPCOMING YEAR?
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE UK RACING SCENE?
I’m not one to get involved with politics, both the Scottish Downhill Association and HSBC National Series are run by dedicated, phenomenally hardworking individuals putting on races which are the envy of many countries. It’s a shame numbers seem to be dwindling making the economics of running races difficult and I think downhill has suffered as the enduro scene has grown. Junior DH series such as the Highland Hardline and Borders MTB Series are generally over subscribed indicating the sport has a very bright future.
Based in the North of Scotland traveling is a big issue and racing nationally is expensive in both time and money, even the Scottish races at AE Forest and Innerleithen are 4-5 hours drive away….but I guess that’s our fault and our location has some of the best riding in the World so we shouldn’t complain.
WHICH WORLD CUP RACE ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST?
Definitely Fort William! It is our home track and we have been going to the World Cups there for over 10 years, racing the track will be a dream come true for the boys. Let’s hope the race goes ahead….and hopefully we have lots of friendly faces allowed to support from the track side. It is always such a magical atmosphere.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR 555GRAVITY RACING?
The hope is the Team can become self-funding and racing DH can be both Ryan and Douglas’s career, which is their dream. We would also like to help support talented young riders along the way just as both the Atherton’s and Seagraves are doing. But one year at a time and we will see what happens.
WE ALWAYS LIKE OUR GUESTS TO DO THE SIGN OFF, SO ANY LAST WORDS?
We have been blown away by the help, support and good wishes from so many people without which we wouldn’t have got as far as we have and we are truly grateful. Racing at this level is never going to be cheap and we are open to further support opportunities…. Please get in touch.
A big thank you to Mark for his insight in to his world and the team, we look forward to following their progress and hopefully catching up at the end of a successful first year of racing.
Make sure you follow The 555Gravity Racing pages and show your support!