Sunday, July 25, 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

John Atkins – Britain’s greatest ever cyclo-cross rider; 13 times a British Champion

John Atkins is Britain’s greatest ever cyclo-cross rider; 13 times a British champion and still the nation’s best ever finisher in the Worlds – and at a time when ‘cross gods, the de Vlaeminck brothers were at their zenith. He lives quietly in retirement in Wales, doesn’t ‘do the internet’ and isn’t a man for the ‘stats.’ He was surprised we wanted to speak to him but gave freely of his time and anecdotes. Here’s what John had to say to VeloVeritas just after young van der Poel had won the Worlds in Tabor.

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.

Bernie Nolan and the Legend of the Kazemaatenstraat

The Kazemaatenstraat is part of 70's cycling legend, a condemned cul-de-sac in Ghent where penniless 'Anglo' cyclists could have a cheap roof over their heads as they pursued their (mostly lost) cause to make it big and become a ‘Kermis King.’ Manchester's Bernie Nolan was one of those riders and has kindly agreed to share a few reminiscences with us...

Dave Clarke – Drummond Trophy 2014 Winner

VeloVeritas didn’t make it to the recent Drummond Trophy, for which we offer our apologies to Mr, Norrie Drummond, one of the sport’s staunchest supporters and a former competitor himself – you can read of his Flemish exploits ‘back in the day'. It would be rude of us to let ‘The Drummond’ pass without a mention, so with the aid of ex-Cervelo and Raleigh professional, not to mention friend of VV, Dan Fleeman we got in touch with the 2014 Drummond’s winner – English professional Dave Clarke (KTM Cycling Team).

Dave Dungworth – 1960’s ’25’ and ’50’ TT Champion – Twice

Dave Dungworth was just a little before my time but when I got into the sport back in 1970 his name was spoken in hushed tones as a twice holder of the ‘Holy Grail’ record in time trialling - the ’25.’ He was also twice a 30 mile record holder and twice a double champion, winning both the ‘25’ and ’50’ titles for two consecutive years.

Adrian Timmis – Part Two; Life After Z-Peugeot

When we left Adrian Timmis at the end of the first part of the interview he’d taken a stage in the Midi Libere in 1987 and survived a gruelling Tour de France the same year but had just completed an unfulfilling 1988 season with Z-Peugeot who, despite having signed him for two years, cut him loose after just 12 months.

At Random

Tomeke takes Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2007 at a canter

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2007. The portents for Sunday were better: we weren't hung-over; the sun was out; and we got up to the start at Kuurne without one wrong turning. The chemists were shut though, so Pozzato couldn't buy his hair gel. The start at Kuurne is always a real, "organised chaos" job, there's a riders enclosure but somehow, some riders get mixed up with the crowd and can't get back in to the start enclosure, so have to wait on the roll-out beginning, then cajole their way through the sea of people so as they can go to work.

Scottish Criterium Championships 2007, Glasgow Green

It was like one of those American cop movies, where the old detective takes the young buck under his wing and together they buck the system - veteran Andrew Davies (the bicycleworks) and junior Hamish Creber (Sandy Wallace) rode away from the field in the opening laps of Saturday's Scottish criterium championships at Glasgow Green, with the wily Davies taking the gold medal, one hour later, in front of a big crowd, there to see the finale of the Tour of Britain.

Dan Patten’s Blog – Getting Back on Track

Dan Patten's Blog - As the season rolls on the races are coming thick and fast. May was always going to be an important month with the Belgium Cup (Beker Van Belgie/Coupe de Belgique) series taking center stage.

Scott Thwaites – “My 2014 goal is that elusive first Pro win”

The last time we spoke to NetApp-Endura’s Scott Thwaites was in the spring of 2013, just after he’d finished in fifth place in the Handzame Classic and seventh spot in le Samyn – both hard races in brutal conditions. For 2014 he’s already back in the groove again with a podium place on stage one of the Three Days of West Flanders.

14th International Critérium de Levallois Preview

A Scottish team has again been invited to ride the end of season event in France — the 14th International Critérium de Levallois - which will take place on Sunday 17th October. As always the race will be 60 laps of a 1.8 km circuit, a total distance of 108 kms (approx. 70 miles).

Evan Oliphant – Now with Raleigh and Very Motivated

It's hard to believe but this will be Evan Oliphant's eighth season as a professional. It was back in 2005 when he first pulled on a Recycling jersey; he won the East Yorkshire Classic that year and grabbed second place to Serguei Ivanov on stage four of the Tour of Britain. Last season saw his usual domination of the Scottish scene continue and a strong 11th place on GC in Paris-Correze. For 2012 there's a new name on his jersey - but it's an old name, really.