Photos & Musings: Early Days

Go Back Go Back

Bryan Wade, my early mentor

Bryan Wade was my mentor during my transition from schoolboys to adult, and I owe my riding technique, style and work ethic to Bryan.

At the back end of 1979 I left the schoolboys at 17, and was riding a 250 Kawasaki in the adult juniors. I went to one of Bryan’s training schools at Hawkstone Park to try and get some tips from the 5 time British champion.

After the infamous physical training sessions, where riders would be throwing up from the off-track drilling, Bryan would talk us through the theory of how to ride a section of the track, from lines and technique, to also the mental aspect. What was great about Bryan was that he didn’t just tell you what to do - he explained why you should do it. He made it all make sense to my analytical mind. In fact, Bryan’s basic techniques are as relevant and correct today as they were in 1980.

Then he would go and show us. Riding a clapped-out CR250R, in trainers and track suit bottoms, Bryan went round those corners faster than I had ever seen anyone ride. I could not believe that a bike could be ridden that fast. I was speechless.

At that two-day training camp I did my best to listen and learn. Bryan made a few comments during the school that I was looking good. Then, at the end of the two days, Bryan asked to chat with my father. After what seemed like a couple of hours talking my Dad came out and told me that Bryan was putting together a Honda-Britain supported team, comprising a bunch of schoolboys, and he wanted me as their adult rider! I guess that he saw that I was a rider with potential, and with his help from the tuition side, he could bring that out of me.

It was my first sponsorship deal, and even by today’s standards was really good! I raced as part of the British Motocross Racing School team for the next year, placing third in the Midland Centre 125 championship and also getting my expert points in readiness for the British support championship the next year. I also attending most of Bryan’s schools and gained valuable experience from him, for which I will always be grateful.

I also went to the week-long training sessions that Bryan, together with his ex-Para sidekick, Jim Hannaway, organized at the Parachute Regiment in Aldershot. Those were intense. A week of solid training, assault courses and so on. Tough, but fun also. Graham Noyce and many of the top British GP riders were there too and despite rumours to the contrary I can tell you that Graham trained very hard.

Sadly, due to budget cutbacks at Honda, Bryan’s team folded at the end of 1980, but I continued working with him, including doing the riding demos and instruction at his schools, before he hung up his racing school boots a few years later.

We sadly lost touch for a long time after that which was a great shame. Bryan had faith in me from an early stage, (perhaps more than I did) and I didn’t really achieve all that I should have done during my brief time on his team. I went on to do well in GPs and I would have liked the opportunity to say thanks for his help and guidance because Wadey essentially laid the foundations for my GP racing career.

Fortunately, in 2009, I managed to track Wadey down. After living in the US for a while Bryan moved to Borneo, of all places! He now runs motorcycle adventure tours over there ( and looks fitter than ever.

Bryan, with his eager protégé listening intently Enlarge image

Bryan looks on as I demonstrate at a BMRS training camp in Louth, Lincolnshire, 1985 Enlarge image

Dirt Bike Rider article, page 1 Enlarge image

Dirt Bike Rider article, page 2 Enlarge image

Trials & Motocross news article, page 1 Enlarge image

Trials & Motocross news article, page 2 Enlarge image

Trials & Motocross news article, page 3 Enlarge image

Wadey, present day Enlarge image

Bryan in his Suzuki racing days Enlarge image