With three UCI World Championship titles and three UCI World Cup overall wins already under his belt – and a fourth looking likely – at just 23 years old Great Britain’s Jack Carthy is already a bona fide trials phenomenon. The down-to-earth northern Englishman, a specialist in the 26” category, talked to us before the Cycle Expo Yorkshire about his early days in trials, his first UCI World Cup experience and why winning isn’t everything.
How did you get into trials?
JC: When I was eight, my parents bought a bike for me at a carnival for £40. I didn’t have a clue what trials was, I didn’t even know it was a trials bike, I just liked it as it looked different to normal bikes because it didn’t have a seat.
At first, I just rode it around the streets like a normal bike, but eventually, I started to work out trials for myself in a way. Eventually, my parents bought me a better bike from a local bike shop and I got to know the lad who worked there who was already involved in trials. One minute I was knocking about with him and doing little competitions, then it was the British Championships, then a World Championship.
Two riders who really helped me in trials were Wayne Mahomet and James Hyland.
What was your first experience of the UCI World Cup?
JC: In 2011, my parents took me out there for my 14th birthday. When we got there my parents were asking, ‘can he take part in it?’, but I was too young. When no-one was around, we went down and walked the sections. We thought we were gonna go there and it would be a big shock how hard it all was, but my dad said, ‘you can do this’. So, after the competition, I got my bike out and I was riding them all. The year after I took part. I was full of nerves but managed to finish third overall and that was what put me on the map.
Are your parents still just as involved with you now?
JC: Every training session my dad is with me, he’s kind of my team mate and he’s been with me in this since day one. He gave up work to come and support me and now he works with me. It’s great to have support like that from your family. Family is massive. My parents paid for everything when I was starting out, I didn’t have sponsorships, but without their support I wouldn’t be where I am today.
What does a typical week of training look like?
JC: I literally train all the time. I just live my life around training. It’s not regimented or anything, I might wake up at 4am and go for a run, or whatever I can think of. I do a bit in the gym, but riding is the main thing.
I always put in a hundred per cent, if it was anything less, I’d be disappointed with myself. I think that’s why I’ve always improved, year after year. My mentality is that I’m never at my best. When you start thinking you’ve hit your best, the only way is down.
Nicolas Vallée and yourself dominated the UCI World Cup last year and that’s continued in 2019. Do you feel like there’s particular rivalry between you both?
JC: The first round this year was very close, but I won by about 40 points or something in the second. It’s between us two at the minute, we’re definitely the top two in the world.
At the moment, I think he’s a bit predictable, because every time I compete with him he seems to make the same mistake, but for sure, it’s always between him and me. The competition now is over one lap, so if I make a mistake or get a flat
tyre or something, he wins.
You’ve achieved so much already, but is there anything that you’re particularly proud of?
JC: I suppose that winning my first UCI World title has been the proudest thing for me. But it’s really weird, I don’t really feel proud of myself, I just feel satisfied with what I’ve achieved. I want to keep going, I’ve still got a lot of hunger for it. Maybe I’ll feel proud when I’ve finished and I’m happy with what I’ve achieved.
Why didn’t you take part in the final round of the UCI World Cup last year?
JC: I chose to do a cycle expo in Yorkshire [England] instead because I want to promote the sport*. It’s alright winning, but we have to open the sport up to as many people as we can. If me, Nicolas [Vallée], Vincent [Hermance] and the rest just have the mentality that it’s about winning more than anything else, the sport won’t grow, we’ll just have more world titles between us.
We need to open it up to the public so when they go home, they might go and watch some videos, then they might start going out and riding trials for themselves.
Are you doing any special preparation for Round 3 of the UCI World Cup?
JC: I’m going out early to train in France on the way there and try out some different terrain. The European Championship is the week before the UCI World Cup, so I’m out there for two weeks taking part in two different events, which should be really good. I’m leading the World Cup, so as long as I finish top three or something, I’ll get the overall win.
What’s your life like outside of trials?
JC: I literally live my life around bikes and family. I train, then go home to my partner Charlotte and my son Miles. Yeah, a simple life, that’s how I like it.
The final round of the 2019 UCI Trials World Cup takes place at the mountain resort of Il Ciocco, Tuscany, from 11 to 13 October.
* In another promotional activity, Jack Carthy will participate in a trials demonstration at the UCI Congress - which is attended each year by the UCI's member National Federations - to be held on September 27 during the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire (GBR).