For those of you who don’t know me – and I imagine that is most of you – my name is James Moss and I am about to begin my third season as a full time professional. After two enjoyable seasons riding for Endura Racing, I am pleased to say that this year I will be pinning numbers onto the jersey of a new team, Node 4 – Giordana Pro Cycling.
I have ridden bikes of all varieties for the majority of my life now and it all began in the world of knobbly tyres back in my teens racing XC. I had a fair slice of success but it was never taken too seriously when I look back.
After a short sabbatical from racing to do the Uni’ thing (i.e. Drink – lots and often), I returned to racing, but the lack of XC mountain biking was to road racings gain and I started by doing mid week TLI handicap events in the Newcastle area organised by the now legendary Willy Thompson.
This quickly progressed and before I knew it I had won some BCF races, ridden a couple of Premier Calendars and was lucky enough to get given a handful of kit and a lovely Litespeed courtesy of the guys at MTS Cylclesport in Durham (MTS). After a couple of years with the huge support of Jim and Alan, a few more decent results landed me a ride for Kinesis UK. Back then (well, 2009 actually), Kinesis and Chris Truett had an excellent reputation of developing young and promising riders into the British UCI teams. They had an impressive calendar and despite working full time as a surveyor I got the opportunity to ride stage races in Ireland, Canada and France, as well as all the big British events.
Some promising results in the lumpier Prem’s of the season got me talking with Brian Smith who was helping to set up a massively expanding Endura team that would be at UCI Continental level in 2010. Much to my delight, I was made an offer that meant I would be able to leave surveying and live the dream as a full time bike rider.
Despite having spent the previous five years studying and working towards qualifying as a Chartered Surveyor, a week after passing my final exams I handed my notice in, much to the bemusement of my then boss.
“What exactly do you mean by, you’re leaving to be a professional cyclist? Is that a job?”
‘Well you know how some people get paid to play football? It’ll be like that. Except with less footballs. And more bikes.”
Honestly, some people will never understand!
2010 was an incredible season, but an equally steep learning curve. After leaving work at Christmas and then struggling to train due to ridiculous amounts of snow, I lined up at the Tour of the Med’ in early February. Danielson, Garzelli, Gesink, Hoogerland, Valverde, Vinokourov and Moss – to say I was under prepared is the biggest understatement of the year.
I took a massive hiding. I came down heavily on the first stage, losing loads of skin and then climbed off on the third day. I genuinely thought I had made a big mistake leaving work.
After some rest and solid training, I headed to my next small event to get my season going again – Vuelta a Murcia. Armstrong, Kloden, Menchov, Wiggins, Zabriskie. Great. To my surprise, this was much better and despite some appallingly timed pee stops (just as Lance sent his men to the front), I was able to get through it with not so much trouble and morale was restored.
The rest of the season, I would like to think, was pretty successful. I built myself a solid reputation in the team as being a dependable domestique. This resulted in me getting the opportunity to ride the Tour of Britain which was a pretty big deal for me. The first stage passed the outskirts of my home town, Burnley and the whole week was incredible experience; an excellent way to finish my first professional season.
2011, in short, was pretty disappointing. I got the opportunity to ride some excellent races again but suffered with various things throughout the year. A nasty chest infection picked up at Coppi Bartoli in Italy, an avulsion fracture of the muscles in my lower back at Tour de Bretagne and a broken hand at the Tour of Norway. Spread those out every couple of months and your season is effectively a write off. I did however manage to finally get my arms in the air at the North East Championships. Paris – Roubaix around those parts!
I’d like to think that in many ways, 2012 represents a new start for me. I have moved down to the relatively mild and sunny south east to live with my girlfriend.
As well as being more settled, it also means I can avoid seemingly constant trips up and down the A1, taking the bike in and out of the car and living out of a kit bag. I am also happy to say that I will be riding for the well known and long term supporter of cycling, Phil Griffiths of Yellow Ltd.
The team goes by the name of Node 4 – Giordana Pro Cycling and is the continuation of his 2011 UCI Conti’ Motorpoint team. I am really fired up about this. I am making a fresh start and taking a new approach to racing so that I ensure that I get the most out of myself.
At Endura I found it all too easy to pigeon-hole myself as a domestique. Help others out in the early to middle parts of races and then leave it up to them at the sharp end.
Despite enjoying that role thoroughly and very much wanting to continue riding for the best interests of the team, I am putting a bit of pressure on myself to get up there again in races.
I guess I have done exactly this by putting it in writing, right here!
Anyway, that’s enough about me for now. I will do my best to keep you updated on everything and anything that I think might be of interest throughout the season.
Thanks for reading.
Special thanks go to:
@PaulBFitness for his incredible work with me in the gym.
Rotor UK and Neil Batt for providing me with their excellent Q-Rings.
@TribecaSport in Tunbridge Wells for the Retul bike fit. Really appreciate your help guys!