Jason McRoy was the first British mountain biker to make an impact on the growing international downhill race scene in the early ‘90s.
Despite being born with a defective heart and suffering a major knee injury during his BMX racing days in the 80’s, Jason’s determination to compete saw him take up the relatively unknown sport of downhill mountain bike racing. Back then the downhill races were mostly dominated by Americans like John Tomac and Greg Herbold. In the UK, downhill racing was barely even a separate discipline. Then along came Jason, with a riding flair and aggressiveness that no one had ever seen in the UK, drawing comparisons to John Tomac with his big riding style and friendly off-bike charisma. Jason was the first UK downhiller to compete in the inaugural 6 event Grundig World Cup Downhill Series.
Jason quickly gained sponsorship as his ‘all or nothing’ riding style won him races and magazine features – and the nickname JMC. In 1993, he won the UK National Downhill title, and his credit-card funded roadtrip to the USA resulted in a second place in the Kamikaze Reebok Eliminator an invitation-only, spectacular head-to head race down Mammoth Mountain in California. This helped bring him to the attention of Specialized, who signed him to the Specialized/2 Calorie Quest team as a professional downhill rider.
Unfortunately, Jason was killed in a traffic accident on his beloved Harley in 1995, aged only 23. Despite his short career, his story has inspired many people worldwide to take on life challenges and in February 2010 he was inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame. To this day JMC still retains his legendary status and is still talked of fondly in the mountain bike scene worldwide.
First off, you don’t want some old fuddy-duddy sentimentalism from an old ex-journo!
But that’s what you are going to get!
Where the ‘Good Old Days’ in Mountain Biking really the Good Old Days? Absolutely! Stars, personalities and egos everywhere and I had the privilege of getting to know them all personally. Only those who experienced the rock and roll era of MTB, especially the downhill, knew the thrills, the disappointments, the highs and lows of this fledgling sport. The UK MTB Hall of Fame reflects that to me, it’s an award for Jason’s efforts in overcoming some pretty steep obstacles on his path to brief fame and for bringing the essence of the sport to the masses.
Patrick Adams, one of the instigators of the Hall of Fame has also been there from the start and worn a similar T- Shirt, so the ethos of the HoF is right on. (To be frank, creating a UK HoF was high on my agenda – I had had high level meetings with the Forestry Commission, business and media to progress its formation, but pipped at the post by Pacific Edge in the end.
To be nominated and inducted into the HoF is a great honour and I know Jason would be thrilled with the award – he was always unsure how well he was accepted by his peers and the public – and is a wonderful tribute that has been paid to him and his memory. The key thing about this organisation is its all-encompassing focus – paying tribute to the past, but encouraging the stars of the future, which is why I have shown Jason’s nephew Kiedis holding his trophy.
Just as the last Olympics have inspired youngsters to push themselves to be athletes of the future, I hope the legacy and inspiration of the UKMTB Hall of Fame will do the same for Mountain Biking.
Well done and thank you all for creating an organisation that is so close to my heart.