The Simpsons, Series 2, Episode 13 – Homer vs Lisa and the 8th Commandment.
Homer and friends sit down to watch a live cable t.v broadcast of Watson v Tatum 2: The bout to knock the other guy out.
Breathy, English-accented voice over – “The challenger learned how to fight in the notorious projects of Capital City, and honed his skills whilst serving time for aggravated assault and manslaughter in Springfield prison”.
Barney Gumble – “Aaaallright! A local boy”
There’s always been a correlation when following professional sport between an athlete’s perceived geographical proximity to one’s self and the level of will to see them succeed. Not a fandom necessarily, or something rooted in parochiality, but an interest in who they are, the results they produce, and what it was that took someone from the same milieu as you to the ranks of professional sport.
We in the BCR are not immune to this ourselves, particularly when the sport in question is cycling; so when we’d heard of someone from our corner of the world, who has trained on the same roads as us and appears on the same Strava segment leaderboards, making a successful foray into professional cycling, we had to find out what his story was.
Cameron Mason is a 19-year-old cyclocross racer from Central Scotland.
After a few years of racing all over the country and making regular cross-channel trips to race in Belgium, he is spending his first full season living and racing on the continent as part of the Trinity Racing team.
Multiple top 10 and 20 finishes, including in World Cup and European Championship races, and a podium finish in the UK Championships means 2019/20 has already been fruitful.
Cameron is also voracious in documenting his cycling life, both racing and otherwise, through various forms of social media.
Without further ado, let us introduce Cameron Mason…
Let’s start right at the beginning. How did you get into cycling?
My cousin Calum was big into cycling when he was a youth and junior, so the cycling side of things came from there. I always rode my bike when I was little, I really enjoyed it and my parents encouraged it. When I was about 8 years old I started some racing in the Under 12s at Scottish XC MTB races. After I started racing properly I spiralled into wanting to race all types of events. I did road, XC, CX, track and running when I was younger. When I was about 12 West Lothian Clarion youth club came about which helped massively with my development.
Your first club was West Lothian Clarion. What did you learn from riding and racing with the club, and was this where you first discovered you had a talent for cycling?
I loved riding in the club, I learned loads while in WLC. It allowed me to push myself as it opened new opportunities, like riding the club 10 mile TT, training session and club races. It was a perfect environment to learn surrounded by my friends and passionate coaches and helpers. I don’t think there was ever a ‘discovery’ of talent. In my head, I knew I was enjoying it and I was always on my bike and mucking around. That seemed to be a good recipe for making a good bike rider.
Cyclocross is the discipline you specialise in.
What attracted you specifically to CX; what are the attributes, skills and talents you have that mean you excel at cross, and have you ever toyed with the idea of transitioning to road?
Cyclocross is a funny one. It’s hard to describe the discipline to someone who doesn’t know about it. It requires a range of skills as the courses can be so different week to week. Some races we ride are very fast with average speeds close to 30km/hr and some are the opposite with very slow speeds and sometimes 50% running. You need to be adaptable and have the ability to handle different situations quickly and decisively. For example if it starts to rain 10 minutes before the race you need to change you tire set up them re-adjust your race approach to ride better in the mud. In cyclocross things are always changing, track conditions, how muddy your bike is, the riders who are around you and also the way you have to ride sections.
The last few years I have been asked about the road a lot. As I have progressed in CX and with the success of guys like MVDP and Wout van Aert who combine both disciplines, people are curious to see how I would do on the road. Right now I am very happy to focus on my CX progression. At the moment I have lots of opportunities to push my CX forward, but if those were to come about in the road I would be happy to pursue them.
How much of your practice time is spent on the skills required to be a good Cyclocross rider – dismounting, clipping in and out, shouldering the bike, picking a line through an obstacle etc. – and how much is spent on just developing the power and endurance in the legs and the cardiovascular system to push you through a race?
In a normal week, 80% of our riding time is on the road, we don’t actually do much specific CX training midseason. That is mainly because we are racing two times a week, the race time keeps our skills sharp and the road sessions are the best way to get a quality training ride.
I want to be the best I can be in the world of cyclocross…
In October 2019 you were announced as having signed for Cycling super-agent, Andrew McQuaid’s Trinity Racing.
How did that come about and what attracted you to join the team?
Tom basically DMed me on Instagram in August 2019 and asked if I would like to ride for the team. I said ‘FOR SURE!’ and that was that. It was a very logical fit though. I want to be the best I can be in the world of cyclocross and being in Trinity meant I would get to ride the best gear, the best races and be teammates with one of the best riders, Tom Pidcock.
You now share a team with Men’s Junior and U23 Cyclocross World Champion, and Junior and U23 Paris-Roubaix winner, Tom Pidcock, and participant in numerous Giro Rosa, Women’s Tour, and World, Euro and British Championship Road Races, Abby-Mae Parkinson.
What have you learned from spending time with these guys and seeing how they go about racing their bikes?
First of all, they are VERY quick bike riders (obviously) so that has been fun trying to keep up with them! We have a really good team dynamic and bring our own unique qualities to the table which is really cool. I have learned so much from them already, Tom’s wealth of race experience in all disciplines have taught me lots about this sport. I ask him lots of questions which might annoy him sometimes I think, but he is always happy to help and to see me learn. Abby does not live in Belgium full time with Tom and me but when she is over I really enjoy training with her. She has very cool stories of the road side of the sport that I don’t know a huge amount about.
You predominantly race on the continent these days, with Cyclocross being particularly big in Belgium and the Netherlands.
How do you cope with all the travelling, the time away from home, and the pressures of racing?
I will be away from Scotland for about 5 months in total this season which is the longest I have been abroad at a time. To be honest I haven’t really noticed it or missed home that much. That must mean I have been enjoying myself so that’s good. The training and racing is quite intense so there isn’t time to really miss home and I am doing exactly what I want to do and I love it! I live with Tom in Belgium, he is good company. The Trinity Team is also like a wee family so I kind of feel like I belong here.
I really like the feeling of involving people in my racing and it is amazing when things are awesome because you can share your success with thousands of people.
What have been the other high points in your racing career so far?
Any particular events or results that stand out?
Up until now, I would say my career highlights have all been things like racing my first world cup, racing my first world champs, and racing with MVDP. As I start to do more of these big races and my results climb up I am raising my bar to bigger things. My top 10 at the Tabor World Cup felt very big but this season has really been a whirlwind of new best results and high points, it’s all been awesome!
There are many obvious facets to being a professional sportsperson and a very important one nowadays for fan and sponsorship engagement is social media. You do this really well with your IG/FB stories, YouTube, Vlogs etc. Is media/social production another passion of yours and how has this evolved as your career has grown?
Yes, I do think social media is more important nowadays as an athlete but it is definitely not essential. I really enjoy sharing what I am up to and showing people as much as I can about the sport but it isn’t really for everyone. If you don’t enjoy sharing and you force it then it will come across and unauthentic which is the opposite of how it should be. I really like the feeling of involving people in my racing and it is amazing when things are awesome because you can share your success with thousands of people. But it can be hard when things don’t go great and you feel like you have to share that with people. That is when it is important to set yourself boundaries and remember that you come first, not social media. Sharing the low points as well as the high points is good as it is important for people to know its not all amazing, but sometimes it’s ok to not share when you are not feeling great.
Having dabbled ourselves with videos, there is a huge amount of time in editing and general production. How do you pull all this together in addition to the obvious time sacrifices for training and racing?
As a bike rider you spend your time either eating, sleeping, riding or recovering. There isn’t much time for anything else but I have found something productive and enjoyable I can do with my downtime, edit YouTube videos! Other riders have XBOX, Netflix and reading, I have Adobe Premiere Pro (my editing software) I have busier training and racing periods where editing is put to the side so I am less productive there. I also find races where I didn’t perform as well as I’d liked to harder to edit as it’s basically 6-8 hours looking at footage from the race and race day. And if that’s of a bad day it’s not the most inspiring thing in the world. But when I have a REALLY good race it is so fun to edit because I can relive how good I felt on the bike that day, pros and cons!
What benefits has your vegan diet brought you?
Going plant-based has been quite a gradual thing for me over the last 5ish years so I can’t really say any definite benefits that I have felt. I get to eat a lot! Firstly because plant foods are generally less calorie-dense and secondly because no matter how much I eat I never seem to gain weight, I guess that’s a good thing! I have my own reasons for choosing the diet I do and that as long as I know that then I am happy, I don’t want to press my views onto anyone.
I can imagine that in this world of hidden ingredients, you must have to take extra measures to ensure you uphold your vegan diet. How do you manage this dietary lifestyle with the obvious fuelling required when on the road racing and training?
I think that life is too short to get hung up on the little things so I try to think about the big picture in some instances. For example, if someone is kind enough to bake me something then I am not going to turn it down just because it may have a little dairy in it. Diet is very personal and you can choose exactly what you want to eat for your own reason so don’t feel like you have to uphold to anything. I feel good eating plant-based and I get everything I need so I am happy :). On the road, things can get harder as it’s difficult to find good veggie and vegan options in some places. Planning ahead is the best way of dealing with this though so I make more of my travel meals and snacks myself so I don’t have to worry about finding options for me.
What’s the goal and vision for the future, both in the short and long-term on and off the bike? Concentrating on improving in Cyclocross, or is there anything else in the works?
Short-term, continue to love racing/riding my bike. Long-term, continue to love racing/riding my bike. That is really what I am in it, I really love it and that’s what motivates me to train and race every week. Being more specific though, in the short term (3-5 years-ish) I would like a medal and a major championship, that would be big. Long term I am not really sure, I am not very good at planning ahead for things like that. For now, I’ll just focus on the now.
Who is your favourite cyclist?
Chris Akrigg. Look him up! He is a UK trials rider and I would say he is the most skilled bike rider in the world. His videos are insane and he seems like a very cool guy. Life goals is to be as smooth and as skilled as him!
One drink, one film, one song?
Apple juice, Hot Fuzz, Dog Days Are Over
A massive thanks to Cameron for taking the time to share his cycling life with us during a hectic festive race period. Since interviewing, Cameron has recently finished 2nd in the Nationals U23 and 3rd in The nationals Elite. Check out the video on his channel. Absolutely amazing performance and continuing his impressive ascension to the top of the podium. Chapeau.
Be sure to check out and follow him via social media using the links below. His video content is both brilliant and inspiring.
Camerons next racing on Sunday, at World Cup Nommay, the following week at Hoogerhiede World Cup then the World Champs the week after that. We wish him ‘aw ra best’ fae The BCR. Follow his progress at cyclocross24
Happy Rolling in 2020
Darren & Craig
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GOAN DAE IT NOO!!!