Sean Williams – Rider and Racer
Offshore Sports – the early years
It’s 1991, I am unfit and bored. I need a sport. So I buy a bike from Offshore Sports in Shanklin, a great little bike and surf shop owned by the legendary Williams family (no relation). Ceri and Ian, encouraged me to pursue the sport of Mountain Biking and I soon started to race my bike, on the mainland. For two years I raced hard, gained a lot of fitness, started to win stuff and found my calling. I then smashed into a tree and shattered my arm! When I look back this was blessing in disguise and what followed changed my life. I was offered a job in the shop, where I was suddenly immersed into a world of cycling 24/7. I learnt how to fix bikes, sell bikes, talk bikes and meet new people, all with the same mindset as myself. The shop is also the reason I now have three lovely children and I will be forever grateful for the years spent in the company of such great people. If it wasn’t for Offshore Sports, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and now I can pass on what I learnt.
I started training in 1992. A few months later I lined up in a field of 250 riders at a Mountain Bike race in Dorset. Sat right at the back, not knowing what to expect I raced off, saddle too low, overdressed and totally clueless. I finished 50th and I was hooked, Since that day I have never looked back and cycling is as big a part of my life now as it has ever been.
My Disciplines – 25 Years of Racing
Triathlon and Duathlon now form a large part of what I do. Not only cycling, I now share my training time with running and swimming. Duathlon is my strongest discipline, but the Tri is improving. As a cyclist I am able to regain lost time in the water. My run gets me even more time back, and once I nail the swim, triathlon will become another sporting discipline to strive for. I raced my first Cyclocross race in 1998 and was hooked immediately, drawn into to the speed and skill such a discipline demands, The shorter, faster riding suited me more than Mountain bike racing and I soon found that I was racing at the front. The skills I learned in MTB translated well, and my ability to win became more of a reality than a dream. I still race cross to this day and it remains my most loved discipline.
I did my first cross country race in 1992 and progressed quickly. In 1993 I raced what was probably the best race I ever did in Mountain Biking; finishing 4th in the Sports Category race in the Malvern Hills Classic, one of the largest MTB racing festivals in the world at the time. There were 500 riders in that race. In hindsight, It was always going to be hard to top that and deep down I knew it. That didn’t stop me travelling up and down the country, racing at some amazing locations in the National series and more local SAMS events throughout the 90’s. I moved into the Expert Category and eventually into Master when I turned 30 and gained some wins along the way and a lot of podiums. By the end of the 90’s though I was wanting something different. I struggled with the 2 hour plus races and found my skill lie in the shorter races. Time Trialling on the road and Cyclocross had gradually started to take over and MTB racing became more about fun. I race MTB occasionally now and have competed in three Island Games, in Mountain Biking for Team IOW.
The Time Trial is a race against the clock and a race against yourself. It’s the one discipline a bike rider really gets to know their limits. The test is an art form that requires constant practice and dedication. It also makes for great training in multisport disciplines, and my many years racing the TT has proved a real advantage in my new found aspirations to perform in Duathlon and Triathlon.
I vowed never to be a roadie in my early days. I was so immersed in Mountain Bike racing that riding the road never really crossed my mind. I wanted to race more though and travelling to the mainland was getting increasingly more expensive. Vectis Cycling Club ran over 40 Time Trials on Island roads every year back in the 90’s, so in 1996 I took the plunge and entered a Wednesday night 10 mile Time Trial on the old Hale course, on my road bike and turned in a good time of about 24 minutes. So a new era of racing started and continued, every summer for nearly 15 years non-stop. I’ve raced hundreds of Time Trials home and abroad and really dialled in my ability to ride a smooth Time Trial and make big improvements in mainland events between 2007 and 2011. While not my strongest discipline (there’s too much of a mountain biker in me) I have gained a hell of a lot from this cycling discipline, physically and technically. It serves me well in multisport racing too, and allows me to gain back time lost in the first leg of Duathlon and Triathlon.
This is my discipline, the one where I have achieved the most, enjoyed the most and focussed most of my attention over the years. Right now I’m having a bit of a sabbatical while I try to find my way in multisport, but that doesn’t mean I won’t return to cross. I still dabble and still ride the bike, but the specific training I used to do for cross has taken a back seat. I gained a lot form my early years in cyclocross. The skills required in this highly technical sport don’t come easy and can only, really be gained through hard racing. It’s not just about the fitness. It’s also a mindset, it’s knowing your equipment, your bike set-up and most of all your competition. Racing the Wessex league for 15 years against the same guys week in week out all winter immerses you into a cyclocross bubble that is hard to pop, and contained in that bubble was all I needed to excel. In 2011, 13 years after I started cross I won the South of England Championships as a Veteran. In 2010/1 and 2011/12 I won the Wessex League overall Veteran league. 2010 saw me finish 8th overall in the National Trophy against the best Veteran riders in the country, and the year after I finished 10th in the National Championships in Ipswich. Not that I’m counting down the years, but a new focus of Cyclocross 50+ racing in 2020 will likely see a bit of a comeback. Maybe next year.
Swimming, Cycling and running. It’s now I’m thankful for all the cycling I have done because it helps me immensely to gain back the time I lose in the water. My swimming is improving, but slowly, and my running is more than good enough to gain me even more time over my swimming losses. In fact, I think the cycling has helped me gain a good ability to run very quickly. In 2016 I decided to try and qualify for the GB Age Group team at the World Duathlon Championships in Spain and to qualify I had to first get a result at the National Duathlon Championships in Windsor. I finished 5th in my age group at Windsor, qualified then travelled to Spain where I finished 8th in the world from 45 finishers, and 4th Brit. The race consisted of a 10k run, 25mile bike finishing with a 5k run. I completed the course in 2h12mins. Most recently, Oct 2019, I qualified for the 2020 European Duathlon Champs in the 50-54 age group race in Spain next march. I finished with the third fastest time in that age group at the Bedford Autodrome Standard Distance race and quailified automatically for a place in the GB team.
Out and About
You’ll probably spot me out on the bike either training or racing. I am currently racing local Tris and Duathlons. I also run in many of the running events including park run occasionally. You might even spot me drowning in the pool or being hammered by the waves in my wetsuit at Colwell, Totland and Yaverland.
Where you will find me
I am now based in the Central Complex at Gurnard Pines, far top right corridor in corner from main entrance.