Squamish’s Lee Jackson is moving up to race with the big boys in 2014 but the established downhill rider is looking forward to the challenge.
Last year marked the final foray for Jackson in the junior category and after a strong 2013, he said everything from his training to preparation needs to step up.
“It’s definitely going to be tougher because the field is everyone aged 19 and up,” he said of his move to the Elite rider division. “All of the fastest guys are out there in one group but this winter I’ve trained a lot harder and just need to be more focused out there to ride at that pace.”
A member of the Norco Factory Team for the second straight season, Jackson picked up wins at three B.C. Cup races in 2013 and also snagged a second-place finish at the first Canada Cup downhill race of the season in Mont Tremblant, Que. He also competed at his first World Cup race, also in Quebec in 2013.
“Racing at Mont Sainte Anne for my first World Cup was really cool,” he said, noting he finished 29th. “But my highlights from last year were definitely the first at Mont Tremblant and the three wins at the B.C. Cup races.”
Jackson said he’s been on two wheels for almost as long as he can remember.
“I’ve been riding bikes my entire life, just ripping around the driveway and making jumps out of plywood,” he said. “I eventually got a mountain bike and rode with friends before I got into racing in 2010. The past two years I’ve got a lot more serious and really gotten into it and the training.”
Competition is a big part of what made Jackson so passionate about the sport.
“I’m pretty competitive and never, ever like to lose,” he said. “I really love the competitive side of downhill racing and I like going fast and challenging myself.”
He’s also made an impact at events in the Sea to Sky Corridor. Jackson placed second at the Rockstar Downhill event during Test of Metal weekend last June and placed third and second, respectively, in the Crankworx Garbanzo and Air races.
The 2013 Howe Sound Secondary School (HSSS) grad said there is a lot of potential to grow the downhill interest in Squamish.
“There aren’t that many downhill-specific tracks that are great for racing in Squamish,” he said. “But if people got permission to build a downhill trail I think there would be a lot of potential. Eventually it may happen. I think we have the talent out here.”
Training is a big aspect for Jackson, as he hits the gym five days a week and tries to get on his bike if there’s daylight after he’s done his day job. He also regularly heads to Cypress and the North Shore to hone his skills during the offseason.
Joining the Norco Factory Team was a big thrill for Jackson and he said it’s great to return with them for 2014.
“It was awesome and it was the first time being on a big team like that,” he said. “All the support they give you at all the races is crazy.”
He admitted it can be difficult balancing work and racing, as he needs four months free each summer to race. But he’s found a flexible local employer in Diamondhead Garage Doors.
The plan for 2014 is to keep doing what he’s doing and try to hit as many races as possible.
“I’m definitely going to try and race in a lot more World Cups and maybe get to Europe if I can,” he said. “I want to race all the Canada Cups and try to get down to the States and do some Northwest Cups too because they’re always fun.”
Jackson plans to kick off the season at the Sea Otter Classic event in California in April and move on from there.
For more information on Jackson, visit his Facebook rider profile at www.facebook.com/pages/Lee-Jackson-Rider-Profile/183866438371396 or his Norco profile at www.norco.com/team/riders/lee-jackson.