Meet Joey Walker – British National Champion
With only a few weeks to go until our epic Spring Bank Holiday Camps, it seems like the perfect time to catch up with our guest coach for the circuit RACE masterclass taking place on Tuesday 1st June. Joey Walker, the current British National Champion will be joining our very own Graham Briggs & Ali Slater for a day long masterclass not to be missed.
We caught up with 23 year-old Joey to ask him about his career to date, his most memorable race and the hardest ride he’s ever done.
Hi Joey, how did you get into cycling?
It was through my Dad, (Chris Walker) I’d grown up watching him as a professional rider. I used to go mountain biking at the weekend when I was a kid and then I went on to the u12 youth racing at my local Wombwell circuit which was a go-cart circuit back then. I started there and progressed through the ranks.
Joey at a Youth A Race aged 14
When did it become more serious?
Going through the Youth & Junior ranks when you’re at school it’s still at hobby, but after the last year of juniors I won the European points race on the track cycling and that confirmed I can give it my all and make a living from it.
From the Juniors I joined the British Cycling u23 academy and had a year there before going on to ride for Wiggins for 2 years. After that I went on to Madison Genesis where it started going well for me and I won the Elite Criterium Championships the elite one. When the Madison team folded, I joined Vitus but the pandemic hit and that team has gone too. Now I’m on an elite team called Crimson Performance.
How did you get to know Graham & Ed?
I live in Dinnington not far from Doncaster but growing up I rode with the Donny Chain Gang so I’ve known Graham since I was a junior and picked up a few training tips from him over the years! When I was on the u23 academy I bumped into Ed quite a bit and I’ve done a few track sessions with him.
Joey riding his first Elite race as a Junior Rider (aged 17). Note Ed Clancy OBE is behind him!
What made you want to be a Clancy Briggs guest coach?
I think back to when I was a kid and got the chance to go to sessions like this – it’s really exciting and you do learn a lot. So I’m just giving it back to the sport based on what I would have liked as a kid. I used to train at Wombwell and one time Russ Downing came when he was on Team Sky and that was huge. He had a full day with us, teaching us how to corner, things like that stick in your memory as a really positive experience.
What will you be working on with the Clancy Briggs kids?
I think we’ll focus on cornering techniques – which are really important for crits – and then it will be skills like being close to other riders and positioning.
At that age though we just want the kids to enjoy it. There’s plenty of time to train harder and take it more seriously when you get a bit older. This is a safe place to make mistakes, laugh about them and learn from them.
What’s your most memorable race?
Can I have two? I’d say the Tour de Yorkshire – a big spectacle – and as I’m from Yorkshire myself seeing the crowds it’s amazing. The second would be when I rode the Junior World Championships in Richmond that was a big highlight and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
What’s your favourite place to ride?
Calpe in Spain – I go there quite a lot for training camps and there’s hardly any cars out there, the roads are so smooth, the climbs are great, it’s perfect for training. I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world – Europe, USA – I’ve ticked a lot of places off the list!
What’s the hardest ride you’ve ever done?
I think it was the Tour of Alsace it was a stage race in France for the u23 academy and it was really mountainous and over the first mountain it started snowing and sleeting and we still had about 120km to go! It was one of those rides where you couldn’t feel your hands or anything but you had to finish the race. That’s the coldest and hardest race I’ve ever done! I was on the verge of hypothermia that day and I had blue lips! I much prefer the weather to be about 20 degrees, not too hot, not too cold, no wind and no clouds.
National Champion riding for Madison Aged 21
What’s the best part of being a pro-cyclist?
The fact that your hobby is your job. Even if I wasn’t a pro-cyclist, I’d be cycling anyway, just not getting paid for it. Doing what you enjoy and what you’re passionate about and being paid for it is a dream job.