Jason McRoy – the British MTB legend
August 24th, 2015
An icon in mountain biking
Twenty years ago to this day, we lost one of the most influential figures in British mountain biking – Jason McRoy.
He was the first rider that really achieved star status, by hunting out the dream others could only imagine. JMC was a huge success on the domestic racing scene, but really took things to the next level by racing overseas and made a big name for himself.
Unfortunately, Jason’s life was tragically snatched away from him when he was at his prime – and a saddening 23 years of age.
Read on to see why Jason McRoy became a British MTB legend…
1. JMC did things his own way
In the time when mountain biking was finding it’s feet, Jason McRoy had started racing – winning his first race on a bike from Halfords. Following this race he upgraded the bike and rapidly improved, race on race.
When he won the unofficial British champs he picked up his first sponsor – NTi (Nicol Trading International), who were based in South Harrow and were the distributors of Rockshox and Salsa at the time.
Following a successful first year in 1991, he continued racing in the UK to great success but realised that riding abroad could really change things in the UK. He chased success by aiming to beat other riders on their own turf and show the world that the UK was going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Below is some footage from the Reebok Eliminator race at Mammoth Mountain, on the famous Kamikaze downhill – where the unknown Jason McRoy had turned up, entered the race and only just lost out on the Gold medal. This was the race that really changed it all for JMC – he had arrived on the world scene, inspiring a whole generation of British riders.
2. He pushed the best British talent to be World level riders
It was watching Jason McRoy racing on Eurosport that inspired Rob Warner to get involved with DH mountain biking, and when he signed a big deal in 1995 with Steve Peat, they both joined JMC on the World Cup scene. This was really the start of the Brits abroad.
Jason McRoy really was the spark that ignited the fire for Steve and Rob – alongside other up and coming Brits like Will Longden and Andrew Titley.
Warner and Peaty have been incredibly influential over the years, but Peaty in particular is known for working with the riders of tomorrow, through his Steve Peat Syndicate racing programme.
3. He was the first Brit that every rider wanted to be
JMC was one of the most exciting riders to watch – he had so much raw skill and talent, and looked great on the bike. From the start he was heavily featured in magazines like MBUK as he really sold the image of mountain biking – he looked cool and other riders wanted to mimic his style.
Jason had a different look to other mountain bikers of the time – with a BMX back ground he wore baggy shorts, Vans trainers and had long hair – he looked cool and had a great image. This might sound strange now, but mountain biking didn’t have an identity in the early days and we were largely thought of as lycra wearing freaks.
Jason McRoy was cool, and he helped changed mountain biking’s image.
He famously had a celtic band tattoo round his right arm, that was copied by many riders and is now the symbol of the Jason McRoy Foundation
4. He was leagues ahead of his time
Even now, looking back at the classic Dirt video shows just how far ahead of his time that JMC was. Dave Hemming, Rob Warner and Scott Dommett were all great riders at the time, but Jason rode circles around them. He had so much natural style, flair and raw aggression on the bike that just made any one watching want to do the same.
In a time when most riders would just lower their saddles and put some flat pedals on, JMC had a 16in frame Specialized Stumpjumper M2 cross country frame built up as a jump bike for slalom and general shredding. The spec on the bike isn’t a million miles from today’s hard tail bikes – big 3in rise Azonic bars, Azonic Shorty CNC machined stem, chain guide, low slung frame etc. No one else was doing it back then in the UK, but an entire generation of Brits mimicked him after watching Dirt and started building hard core hard tails.
5. He is still an ambassador for British mountain bikers
Watching JMC in the iconic film Dirt – produced by Pete Tomkins – always made me want to ride a bike more than anything else – and one particular clip still does. It always looked like he was going so fast, and having so much fun. He was destined for big things.
I never got to meet Jason, but he had a huge effect on my life as I grew up with mountain bikes – and I’ve often wondered just how good he might have been today. Just thinking about him inspires me to go and ride.
And I’m not alone in thinking like this – Jason McRoy is still an ambassador for British mountain biking, and will remain so for future generations.
If you want to know more about Jason McRoy and the Jason McRoy foundation, head to www.jasonmcroy.com to read the full story about Jason’s short, incredible life.
You might also want to download the fantastic Steve Peat film ‘Won’t Back Down’ with has a large section on Jason McRoy, and how his part in the UK scene really pushed other riders on.
Do you remember Jason McRoy? Did he get you fired up to ride? Have you got any great memories of JMC?
Tell us what you think of JMC in the comments below: