It has been a month since the European Youth Mountain Bike Championships, and therefore a month since Charlie Aldridge became a European Champion! We caught up with him to find out more…
“Winning the European Youth MTB Championships last month was absolutely brilliant - I couldn’t believe it! I have tried to work out what led to that success and it all started with club training. My training stepped up a gear with Stirling Bike Club’s performance squad which introduced some discipline into my training; another big part of my success came through Scottish Cycling’s RACE National programme under Paul Newnham.
The RACE sessions bring together young Scottish riders, who want to race in the British series. Race support and coaching at the British races was extremely helpful; my first British race was quite daunting, suddenly I found myself in a field of 50 very motivated riders and it was a real help to have Scottish Cycling support.
I went to the European Championships at Graz, Austria, last year as part of three Scottish Teams. It was a fantastic experience for the riders (and a pretty tough one for the parents and coaches, not only at the event but getting there and back). It was at that event that I set myself a goal of a top 5 finish for 2017.
This year the Scottish Youth riders joined some of the British Apprentice training sessions. The Sheffield session brought me together again with Charlie Craig just after he had come a very close second in the Cyclocross National Champs. Shortly after, we heard the devastating news that Charlie had died in his sleep. In his memory, Charlie’s parents Nick and Sarah Craig set up the Ride for Charlie charity raising money to help young people progress and achieve in cycle sport.
The opportunity came up to form a Ride for Charlie team at the Euros this year, along with Harry Birchill and Hattie Harnden, both this year’s national XC champions. The team came 3rd overall, which was a tremendous boost for the charity.
I had an amazing week, helped by a good score in the skills which put me at the front of the grid in the handicap race. It was really wet so skills learned on muddy Scottish trails came in handy! Again it was a very hard week for the parents and coaches. Paul Newnham and Scott Lindsay were brilliant and I could not have done it without them.”