Prince Of The Track
by Sasha Kanal
Local Ditchling boy Samuel Meeten is a champion cyclist. Sasha Kanal finds out what it takes to be a British Bike Trial champ at such a young age.
By day, Samuel Meeten is just like any other 11 year-old boy, playing football for his local club, enjoying tag rugby and sport with his friends. But come the weekend, Samuel is transformed into a champion cyclist and is proud winner of the British Bike Trial Championships two years running.
Held in five different locations across the UK including Scotland and Yorkshire, the British Bike Trials consist of two circuits made up of about eight sections containing tricky obstacles such as logs and rocks. The competitors have to complete the circuits on their bikes without their feet touching the ground, losing one point every time they do. The skills needed to compete in this sport are manifold, with balance, excellent concentration and great bicycle handling skills a given.
So how much training is required to be a champion? Perry Meeten, Samuel’s dad explains, “Samuel rides every weekend, even when he’s not competing. We will ride together over rocks on the beach and at his friend’s house over lots of obstacles including pallets and industrial cotton reels! In the summer Samuel also rides his bike a lot in our garden and has been known to ride over the garden table!”
So where does the urge to compete in such a niche sport come from? In this instance it runs in the family with dad himself a motorbike trials rider since the age of 16. “Samuel started riding a trials motorbike with stabilizers at the age of 3. He still competes in motorbike competitions but switched to a trials bicycle at the age of 5. I realized there and then that he had tonnes of potential and now he beats me!”
For Perry, weekend trips up North to compete are not a big sacrifice for him, as he loves the sport as much as Samuel does. “It’s such a sociable pastime and Samuel and I have made many new friends along the way. It’s also a relatively easy sport to get into and is great for all ages. Samuel can be quite shy so when his friends watch him perform, they are really bowled over by his confidence.”
And as for the kit, Perry explains, “the bikes can be expensive but there are loads available secondhand and of course protective clothing is a must!”
What does the future hold for this young titleholder and how does it feel to win? We hear from Samuel himself, “ I feel really pleased when I have won and also relieved as I get a little nervous before! In the future I would like to compete in the European Championships and if successful, in the World Championships. But if this doesn’t work out, I’m happy just to ride for fun as I love it so much”. Spoken like a true champ!