Top New Zealand BMX rider Tim Ferguson has been bike-mad since as far back as he can remember.
Currently ranked top in New Zealand for the Masters 30+age group, Tim is a well known face on the BMX circuit. He has held four New Zealand titles, six North Island titles, won the Queensland Elite and three USA national races. He has also been number six in the world (after crashing in the final).
He’s still chasing that world number one title though and is about to head off to Belgium for another crack at the top spot next month.
“I am confident I can pull it off. I don’t want to stop until I have that W1 on my bike,” said Tim.
The 32-year-old spends pretty much every waking moment surrounded by bikes; he’s either training or working; travelling around New Zealand for Action Downunder, an action sports distributor for bicycle and water sports equipment.
Born in Te Awamutu and raised in Cambridge, where he attended Cambridge High School, Tim admits none of the ‘mainstream’ team sports held much appeal for him growing up.
“To be honest my family were not really into many sports. I remember watching rugby and cricket, but they never appealed to me.
“I never got in to any of the traditional Kiwi sports and wasn’t much of a team player as I don’t like losing because someone else has a bad game, so I just rode my bike. I loved speedway (cars) so would ride my bike for hours in an oval in front of the house wishing I was racing.”
That early love for speed still remains and Tim still spends time at the speedway and hopes to race sprint cars when the physical input required for BMX racing becomes too much.
After having a go at BMX as an 11-year-old, he is just as passionate about it 20 years later – and is still a force to be reckoned with on the track.
“At this point the body is going strong but I still have the desire to be the best in the world – so it’s full steam ahead for now.”
20 QUESTIONS WITH
How and why did you become involved in BMX?
I remember going to the track and thinking it was so cool as an 11-year-old. I didn’t really start racing until a few years later when some other friends decided it would be a good idea to come along. After a season they dropped off but I couldn’t stop, I loved it too much at that stage and had dreams of bigger things to come.
What appealed to you most about it?
To start with it was something fun to do with friends, but to be honest I was not that good at it. Being competitive it frustrated me and I wanted to get better. Once I started to improve and move through the ranks it was the challenge of racing and I wanted to win more than anything. It is still the same to this day. All I want to do is WIN.
When and why did you become seriously competitive?
I think for a lot of years we just raced for the sake of racing. Yes, I wanted to win, but apart from the Nationals and North Island titles there was not much more you could aspire to. Then came the Olympics and the sport changed. It became a lot more serious and people started looking at things in a different light.
I was selected to be a part of the NZ High Performance team and raced throughout NZ and Australia for a few years, but as it got closer to the Olympics it was announced that NZ would only take Mark Willers and Sarah Walker. So the remainder of the team was dropped.
Looking back now, I was not even close to my potential and did not deserve to go, but you learn these things with age. I decided to move to Australia as there was better racing and I could ride my bike all year round. I spent four years in Australia and still came home to race the North Island and NZ titles.
What drives you to keep competing?
I love it as much today as I did when I first started. I am now racing Elite part-time and having fun keeping the young guys behind me and competing in Masters at Nationals and North Island titles, with the goal of becoming world champion this July in Belgium.
I no longer race full time Elite, but I still train and ride as if I do, because to make myself happy I have to be riding at my best.
What is the great challenge of your sport?
BMX is such a mental game. You can be the best rider in the world, but if your head is not where it needs to be, you will be riding at the back of the pack.
In most sports you have your lane and can go about your business, but with BMX you can get cut off from the start. Riders will take any opportunity to shut you down and end your day.
Imagine the 100m sprint but racers can run in to each other and they have to hit jumps and corners. That’s BMX.
What you do to keep fit for your sport?
I spend a lot of time in the gym and sprinting on the bike. Over the years I have started to enjoy this side of my training much more, but nothing beats spending time on the bike. I also spend as much time as I can on mountain and road bikes as I find it stops me getting stale.
What is your weekly training routine?
At the moment building in to world’s. I am doing…
Tuesday: Track and gate start session at Hamilton BMX
Wednesday: Sprints and gym
Thursday: Track and gate starts Cambridge BMX
Friday: Spend some time with my lovely girlfriend/day off
Saturday: Cambridge track session and sprints
Sunday: Te Awamutu track and gate session
How do you relax?
I spend time at home with my girlfriend to make up for all the late nights training. I also go to speedway any chance I get.
What is the worst injury you have suffered from your sport?
I have had quite a few over the years but the one that still hurts me now is my foot. I was playing around at a skate park in Australia and broke it when a kid rode in front of me. I crashed so I wouldn’t hit him. This resulted in pins and wires being inserted to hold my foot together and still to this day it hurts like crazy on a cold night.
What’s your greatest personal achievement?
I can’t name one that stands out but winning a NZ title is always going to be up there. To be honest, over the years I have had many riders look up to me and that means alot.
What things has being an athlete taught you?
BMX has given me a life and modelled who I am in so many ways. It has taught me how to deal with tough situations and come out on top.
What sports/activities are you planning to try?
I spend as much time as I can at the speedway and one day plan to race sprint cars. So when my body has had enough, that is the direction I would like to head. At this point the body is still going strong so I am going to make the most of it.
Is there a title/goal which you want to achieve before you retire?
Yes, I have to get my World #1 we are off to Belgium in July to have a crack at it and I am confident I can pull it off. I don’t want to stop until I have that W1 on my bike.
How long do you plan to stay involved in the sport?
I will never stop riding and being involved. Once you race BMX you are in it for life one way or another.
How important is your bike equipment and what do you use?
My bike is super important and I only use the best, because if something breaks when you’re riding, it normally ends with a broken bone. I ride for the Yess BMX designed and made in Canada with all BOX components.
What advice do you give to people in the sport?
Enjoy riding your bike and set goals, be it big or small.
What are the most important things people new to the sport should know?
Start young and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I see so many people come into the sport and have the wrong bike because they did not know who to talk to. Just ask a member at your local club and they are more than happy to help and point you in the right direction.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Forget about everyone else and focus on yourself.
Describe the team around you?
I owe a big thank you to Philippa Dove for always being there and helping me achieve my goals. Also to Yess BMX, BOX Components, Fly Racing, Action Downunder and Mountain To Road
How did your career with Action Downunder come about?
It all started back when I was a kid. All I wanted to do was ride my bike and pull things apart. This included my bike and over time I became quite good at it. When I left school I worked as a bicycle mechanic for a few years before heading to America to do a few races. When I came home I started working as an automotive mechanic for five years before realising I much preferred working in the cycle industry. I worked as a bicycle mechanic in Mount Maunganui up until a year ago when the job here at Action Downunder came up and as a big part of the business is BMX I jumped at it and have not looked back since.