Competing in the 2018 Footbike World Championships
Representing Great Britain on the quirky fringes of sport... I’ve always wanted to try a reach a level where I could perhaps represent the UK abroad in an official championship or international race. Cycling and running are obviously too competitive to be considered, so I needed to go to the quirky fringes of sport to find an event that I could compete in. The bi-annual Footbike World Championships were being held in Losser near Enschede on the German/Dutch border and this was my best chance of representing Great Britain on the international sporting stage.
I’ve yet to come across someone in Britain who scoots as much as I do. I use my adult micro scooter to go to and from the train station nearly every day. Wheel out my excellent Swifty Scooter for weekend adventures and own a Kickbike for long-distance rides. My 85-mile scoot throughout North Wales on the Etape Cymru sportive in 2012 is still one of my greatest achievements and even put me on the front page of the Wrexham Leader and in Outdoor Fitness magazine!
Why do I scoot?
Scooting brings me a lot of joy and I like the feeling of gliding along without battling traffic as you would on a bike because you can legally use the pavement. The physical effort that combines cycling, running and rowing to propel yourself forward is great for overall fitness and the relatively low impact nature of the scooting motion means that riding a footbike is better on the joints than pounding the streets jogging.
Having to answer lots of questions about each of the scooters whilst out and about is part and parcel of scooting and I do not really like using the Kickbike in urban areas because the large front wheel and long frame make it an unusual sight to see in the UK.
I’ve lost count of the times that I have been asked whether I am riding a penny-farthing or if I realised that I’d only bought half of a bike! At the World Championships, no such questions are asked as people from all over the world gather to compete against fellow scooter enthusiasts.
Footbiking is a serious sport in some countries with the Czechs, Finns, Russians and Dutch involved in local clubs and the Eurocup circuit of races. Some carbon versions of scooters can cost thousands of euros and the training required to hone the technique required for speed and efficiency is similar to that of a competitive racing cycling team.
Making my way up to Enschede via Wuppertal...
I signed up for the World Championships back in May and made suitable travel plans to get to Enschede in the eastern Netherlands. I booked a cheap flight to Cologne, headed up to Enschede with a detour to Wuppertal to ride on the famous Schwebebahn ‘suspended railway’.
My event wristband might have said ‘Athlete’, but I am definitely a railway enthusiast and lover of the journey more than a serious competitor. I was staying at the De Fakkel sports hall close to Losser town centre and carried all of my sleeping kit in just my hand luggage bag.
The atmosphere in the sports centre was good