Wednesday, October 27, 2021
HomeInterviewsSteve Joughin - The Original 'Pocket Rocket'

Steve Joughin – The Original ‘Pocket Rocket’

"I won a lot of big races but the best moment for me was winning the Manx International in 1979 for the Manx Road Club."


The ‘Pocket Rocket’ they called him; British Junior Road Champion, twice winner of the season-long Star Trophy, winner of just about every major amateur race in Britain and twice British Professional Road race Champion – the Isle of Man’s own Mr. Steve Joughin. 

High time we caught up with him.

Steve Joughin
Steve Joughin. Photo©Phil O’Connor

Thank you for agreeing to speak to us Steve – you were twice Mersey Division Junior Champion, was that with the Kirkby CC?

“Yeah – but with Manx Road Club, I was never a Kirkby man;I only ever rode for two teams as an amateur, Manx Road Club and Manchester Wheelers.

“I think it was an advantage for us on the island that as juniors we could race against the seniors, the racing was ‘open,’ it brought you on.”

You won the British Junior Road race Championship in 1977 from Russell Williams?

“You know, I was more nervous before that race than any other race I’ve ever ridden, I was so dedicated back then and anxious.

“Cycling was the first sport I tried and was good at, I was rubbish at football.

“It was a hot day that day, I had my Mersey Junior Champion’s jersey on with my pre-race meal consisting of jam sandwiches.

“Russell was second, yes – he followed me all day, he was good at doing that.”

In 1980 you won the Star Trophy; but there were a lot more races on the calendar for it than there are now for the Premiers?  

“I won the GP of Essex and the Lincoln GP that year but yes, there were so many more big races – the Essex Trophy, the Hyde GP, the Manx GP, the Tour of the Peak, the Tour of the Cotswolds…

“I think that during my amateur career I won most of them.”The thing was that when you were in the Manchester Wheelers – I joined in 1979 – it was like a race within a race, you had so many good team mates that you had to pick your move carefully so that you weren’t racing against your own team mates.”

Some say that the Manchester Wheelers paying guys to stay amateur held back the pro class?

“I actually had an offer to turn pro with Falcon at the end of 1977 but I wanted to stay amateur and ride the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

“I don’t think that the Wheelers influenced guys to not turn pro – it wasn’t as if we got a lot of money.”

Steve Joughin represented England and GB as an amateur and as a pro. Photo©Javi Goros

How did The Games go for you?

“I rode the Commonwealth games twice, in ’78 when Phil Anderson won and then in ’82 when Malcolm Elliott won; I was a much more experienced and better rider by then.

“In ’78 I was 27th and I know sounds daft but in ‘82 I had new shorts on for the race and they had me in extreme discomfort for first couple of hours – I missed the break, punctured, finished on the rim and ended-up seventh.

“On the plane home from Brisbane after the Games I gave myself an ultimatum; I’d gone as far as I could as an amateur – I had to get a pro contract.”

Season ’81 saw you in the Milk Race.

“I rode it in ’80 too, Soukhoroutchenkov rode with the Russian team – he went on to win the Olympic Road Race in Moscow that year – his team mate, Ivan Mitchenko was the overall Milk Race winner.

“That was some ‘blooding’ – the best I did was sixth on a stage; but I got through it. 

“My team mate, Des Fretwell said to me after the last stage; ‘after this you’ll be able to win stage races.

“Right at that moment I thought; ‘that’s not possible,’ but he was right. 

“I won the first stage of the ’81 Milk Race, had other good stage placings and the team took six stages so that was a better race than ’80.”

Steve Joughin about to start the ITT at the 1981 Scottish Health Race. Photo©Twitter

I remember you winning the prologue of the Scottish ‘Health Race’ in ’81.

“That was all I won in that race, I was burned out by that part of the season, I’d ridden the Milk Race and the Sea Link; I was over-raced.

“I didn’t finish that race, I had to abandon on the last stage.”

That season was when you moved to France.

“Yes but I couldn’t settle there.

“I was with Martin Earley’s club – CC Fontainebleau – but I was living in an apartment which hadn’t been decorated, bare plaster walls …

“It wasn’t for me and I came home.”

Another Star Trophy win in ’82.

“I had a fantastic start to that year but the first race of the year was the Chequers GP and there were no ferries off the island because the sea was so rough.

“That’s the thing about living on the Isle of Man, sometimes your first test was just to get to the mainland.

“I got a plane to Blackpool then cycled down to Liverpool with my bag on my back, to travel to the Chequers.

“My team mate, Mike Williams was up the road so I couldn’t chase but finished second, then I won the GP of Essex, the Essex Trophy and the Archer GP in succession, I had the Star Trophy just about won by the end of March.

“I won the Tour of the Cotswolds later that year as well as stages in the Sea Link and Health Race.”

Pro for 1983 after your Games ‘self-ultimatum’ then; how long did it take to get accustomed to life with the pros?

“Yes, Mickey Morrison approached me and I turned pro with Moducel.

“I’d raced against the pros in pro-am races and had beaten Barry Hoban to a stage win in the London-Glasgow stage race for instance, so I knew what to expect and as soon as I turned I had guys watching me.”

Steve Joughin
Steve Joughin with one of his National Champion’s jerseys. Photo©Michael Blann/Rouleur

You won the National Professional Road Race in ’84 on home roads on the Island.

“That was a huge boost but I owe a debt to Nigel Dean for that one, he chased the break, never off the front for the last 15 miles.

“The break started messing about and we caught them with 500 metres to go, Bill Nickson was second and Malcolm Elliott third.

“That really launched my pro career and got my salary doubled.” 

Two Milk Race stage wins in 1986.

“Those were good results for me, the Milk Race was a big race, 14 days, 12 stages, a prologue and one rest day.  

“There were some handy finishers in there, Malcolm Elliott and Abdou among them; I won Stage One beating Shane Sutton and Philippe Casado – who was a Giro stage winner – then I won the last stage, beating Abdou and Shane.”

Steve Joughin
Steve Joughin Photo©Tim Diss

Season ’87 saw you with Percy Bilton and take a Kellogg’s stage.

“Moducel pulled out at the end of ’86 but fair play to them, they gave us plenty of notice.

“The guy behind the Bilton team was Ron Groom, he loved the sport and we wanted for nothing, I had a training bike, a road bike, a crit bike, a low pro – my garage was full of bikes.

“He didn’t make you an offer, he just asked; ‘how much are you looking for ?’ 

“You’d tell him and he’d say; ‘yeah, that’s fine.’

“The Bilton team budget in 1987 was 300 grand; that was a lot of money back then. 

“That Kelloggs Tour Stage Three win was a big result but the thing is that the day before I took such a belting.

“Stage Two was Newcastle to Manchester, the distance was stated as 272 kilometres; I was on the road for 8 hours and 20 minutes with Dudley Hayton and Phil Bayton.

“Thing is that Stage Three was very hilly and I was up front over most of the climbs and won the stage.” 

Bilton was a great team but you went to Ever Ready for the 1988 season – and won the National for them?

“Ron Groom was a lovely guy but got upset about things and there was a polemic about the Sport for TV criterium at Westminster which Tony Doyle won and Ron said he was pulling out of sponsorship.

“The thing is that he paid us a big bonus then 10 days later said he was pulling the plug.

“I was on holiday in Ibiza with our baby son and thinking, what; ‘what am I gonna do now ?

“I ended up signing with Mick Bennett for Ever Ready but the rub is that Ron didn’t actually pull out, I was well pee-ed off I had also sort of contract wrangles after he said he was ending the team.”

But back to Bilton in ’89?

“Ron made me an offer I couldn’t refuse but he was an impulsive guy and when he pulled out at the end of that season the writing was really on the wall for the British pro scene.

“But that year wasn’t bad at all, I won a Milk race stage and a stage in the Girvan Three Day at Easter.” 

Steve Joughin
The autobiography of Steve Joughin is available on Amazon.

Percy’s AMP for 1990?

“Percy’s Direct Discounts… I was single sponsored, the guy who organised it bought Ken Bird’s bike shop and wanted to run it as a bike shop-cum-café so I guess he was ahead of his time in that respect.

“He had my low profile bike and a lot of my trophies on display in the shop – then the receivers moved in and I lost the lot!

“I had one win that year, a crit up at Windermere.”

KJC Carpets for 1991?

“That was a low key affair with Steve Jones and me.

“I’d never finished outside the top 10 in the British National Road Race Championship and was on the start line of the ’91 edition when the guy who owned the team told us he was pulling the plug on the team after the race.

“I chucked the race early and that was that.”

Steve Joughin
Steve Joughin (r) and some of his Pro Vision Team. Photo©Gary Main

Tell us how your Pro Vision cycling clothing came to be.

“In ’92 I was working for Terry Dolan as a sales rep. my territory was pretty big – Aberdeen in North East Scotland down to Eastbourne on the English Channel.

“Terry’s frames were all built on the premises and the capacity was seven frames per week but I was selling 35 frames each week so he had organise other builders to meet demand – things were going well until the directors fell out 

“I decided that I needed to work for myself and began selling shorts into shops, my son’s cycling club asked me if I could provide them with custom made club jersey – and 25 years later I’m still at it.

“Business has been good but things are tricky for everyone right now, hopefully on-line sales will be boosted – you have to remain positive.”

Your finest hour?

“I won a lot of big races but the best moment for me was winning the Manx International in 1979 for the Manx Road Club.”

Steve Joughin
Steve Joughin has helped with the Tour of Britain as a VIP driver. Photo©supplied

Are you still on the bike? 

“Yeah, I dipped my toe back in November 2017 with Turbo rides and since then I’ve got back into it, I love to ride in Mallorca, out in the sun – in 2019 I clocked up 5,000 miles.”


“None, I love the world of cycling but it does niggle that I wasn’t selected for the Moscow Olympics in 1980, I’d proved I was the best single day rider in the country but the team was picked on stage race results…”

With thanks to Steve for an entertaining interview.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Grant Thomas Tribute, Part One; Behind the Winner’s Bouquet

Following the sad passing of former British Amateur Road Race Champion and road track star Grant Thomas in The Netherlands we received many words of tribute to the man who defined ‘cool’ on a racing bike. Mr. Paul Kilbourne has featured on our pages before, reliving his memories of his time with the now legendary ANC team, gave us a lovely tribute to Grant, which we publish with pride.

Jonathan Dayus – “I just rode without asking myself too many questions”

There I was, researching Peter Doyle’s palmarès for his recent interview with us, checking out his big French win, in the Essor Breton. I was looking at the race’s roll of honour and was surprised to see that Englishman, Jonathan Dayus had won the race twice.

Dave Le Grys – “One day I’ll be happy to ride my bike through the lanes”

Dave Le Grys has been on the British track scene since I was a junior-that's a long time. In part three of our "left-field" track riders we wanted to have a word with the man who was winning track medals in 1973 - and nearly 40 years later is still winning them.

Mick Ives – On Racing Non-stop, Summer and Winter, for 62 years!

Mick Ives won 81 British Cycling Championships in all disciplines and 19 World Championship medals, he’s the only male cyclist to represent Britain in all disciplines: road, track, cyclo-cross and mountain biking; and he held a racing license continuously from 1957 to 2019.

Bob Cary – Part One; Turning Pro for Peter Post’s Raleigh Squad

In Peter Post's TI-Raleigh squad everything mattered; the bikes had to be the best, the clothing had to look the most stylish and fit properly, the cars had to look stunning. Winning was everything. Post was completely in charge and German ‘Golden Boy’ Dietrich Thurau was on board but still with a smattering of GB riders. By 1976 the team had gone ‘total Euro’ save for two names, Dave Lloyd and one Bob Cary. We spoke to Bob to hear his story.

Douglas Dewey – “I have to start proving I can make it”

It was back in the spring when we last spoke to Douglas Dewey; he’d just won Gent-Staden, the first big race on the Belgian amateur calendar. Since then he’s ridden a very varied programme, including stage races in France and Belgium, hard fought kermises, a silver medal in the British Elite TT Championships and bronze in the British Pursuit Championship.

At Random

The VeloVeritas Years – 2006: Jason MacIntyre, the British 25 Mile TT Champion

2006 in Bonnie Scotland we had a lot to cheer about as the late, great Jason Macintyre had a fantastic season, winning the British Circuit TT Championship and the 'Blue Riband,' the British 25 Mile TTl Championship to join the likes of Alf Engers, Sean Yates, Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree on the roll of honour.

Le Tour de France 2010, Prologue: what the papers say, plus our visit to the Edinburgh Nocturne

We have a look at the Edinburgh Nocturne in this article, but first, once again VeloVeritas finds itself in the ‘emperor’s new clothes’ situation — last year at the Worlds, we were about the only ones to point out that Brad heaving his bike after a mechanical in the TT was not particularly good patter.

Grant Ferguson – British Cyclo-Cross Champion 2018

He may be best known as a cross country MTB man but on a course at Hetton Lyons Country Park, Sunderland which included a little of everything, not so far from his Peebles home in the Scottish Borders,  24 year-old Grant Ferguson ran away with the British Elite Cyclo-Cross championships. Beating into second place the man mostly closely associated with the title in recent years, five times champion, Ian Field. The look on Field's face reflected the fact that a British champion's jersey is worth around 1,000 Euros in start money in any big continental 'cross.

Death Of The Curse

Death Of The Curse. There is a theory within cycling circles that the person who is the current world champion (and thus wearer of the Rainbow Jersey) is stricken by a curse, meaning their season in the Bands is a poor one. That appears to have changed.

Tour de Yorkshire 2018 – Stage 4 Wrap Up; Greg Van Avermaet takes the Stage and GC

Greg van Avermaet dedicated his stunning Tour de Yorkshire success to the memory of BMC Racing Team owner Andy Rihs after a superb final stage saw him crowned champion in Leeds. Rihs passed away at the age of 75 last month, with BMC still in mourning after losing a friend and passionate cycling fan as well as owner.

Le Tour de France 2009 – Stage 3: Marseille > La Grande-Motte, 196.5km

Mark Cavendish soared to his second straight win in the Tour de France today to La Grande-Motte, winning the sprint from a small bunch and strengthening his overall hold on the green jersey.