Jason McRoy is regarded by many as the pioneer of British downhill racing, becoming the first ever UK rider to turn professional with the backing of US team, Specialized.
Jason died 15 years ago today when the Harley Davidson motorbike he was riding collided with a lorry at the WoodheadPass on the A628 in Derbyshire.
McRoy was a dedicated racer who won the British Points series twice and was ranked 10th in the world. He was admired by fans and close rivals, encouraging them to succeed even though they would be going toe-to-toe with him.
Mountain Biking UK magazine Features Editor Andrew Dodd was inspired by McRoy, he said: “Jason McRoy was pure inspiration to me. His clear love of riding shone through in images, video footage and in the flesh.”
“He was the first rider from the UK to have that thing going on-and even by today’s standards, he looks rad on a bike.“
“He was the first Brit to really make impact on the world scene, and although sadly missed, is remembered with a smile- he gave me the get up and go to ride.”
In a BikeRadar interview with Jason’s father Jim, we got an idea of the late racer’s determination:
“He was a determined BMXer, I remember once at Leeds he had a crash that sliced off the top of his thumb – we took him to the local hospital where they stitched it back on again, then he insisted on going back to the track to race in the finals – and won.
“A serious accident at age 11 when his knee ligaments were trashed in a BMX crash looked set to end his sporting career – doctors told him that his ligaments were so loose that he would have constant difficulty walking. He set about tightening the ligaments by pushing huge weights with his legs so that the leg muscles grew and pulled the ligaments back. He started running middle distance quite successfully, but missed the thrills and spills of two-wheeled racing.
“His chance to get back came at Rothbury when on his bog-standard mountain bike, he entered the NEMBA race and picked up third place. Since he was a newbie, nobody believed his time and it took some convincing for the officials to acknowledge that he had actually made the time clocked. He has raced with broken fingers, a broken wrist and all kinds of injuries that would make lesser people stay at home.” Jim said.
Timeline of Jason’s life
- November 26, 1971: Born in Bedfordshire with a hole in his heart. It’s a miracle he’s born at all. A threat to his mum’s life, doctors advised termination.
- 1978: Gets hooked on BMX. An absolute fanatic. His training, weight work and total commitment to riding are awesome, as is his impressive grasp of BMX trivia.
- 1982: On the verge of joining the Mongoose factory team, Jason wins the cherished Number One plate for the North East.
- 1983: After a crash, a fellow rider lands on his knee, wrecking his cruciate ligaments. Out of BMX, sport and maybe even walking, Jason undertakes intense leg routines in the gym. Developing his muscles hugely takes up the slack in his ligaments.
- 1986: It begins to work, Jason starts distance running and is talented enough to train alongside Steve Cram, but the ligament problem reoccurs.
- 1988: Against medical advice he gets a mountain bike and enters his first cross-country event. He wins. From then on mountain biking becomes his new obsession.
- 1991: He’s part of the UK downhill squad at the Worlds.
- 1992: On Team MBUK, he sees that the future is in international downhill and spends a lot of time abroad. Sponsors think he should be in the UK.
- 1993: The Grundig World Cupbegins. He and his dad quit their jobs and hit the world circuit. In the States he wins $3,000 for second place in the Eliminator, which gets them to New York where his ride impresses Specialized.
- 1994: First year as a Specialized world professional. An inspiration to Steve Peat.
- 1995: Started badly and ended tragically, but in-between all was going well.
- August 24th, 1995: Jason died when his Harley Davidson was in collision with a lorry at WoodheadPass on the A628 in Derbyshire.
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