At only 23 years old, Sam Herd has been downhill mountain biking for 14 years after his older brother introduced him to the sport. An Abernethy resident, you will often spot him flying down the forest tracks of Perthshire, or training in Bell’s Sports Centre’s Strength and Conditioning Gym.
In his spare time, he is studying for a Sports Science degree with The Open University, an option, he explains, that works out great for his training.
From those humble beginnings following in his big brother’s tracks, Sam has gone on to compete in the sport’s World Cups, international European races, national and Scottish races. He has come first in the Ukraine Class 1 European race for the past two years, and was 4th Elite in the Scottish Downhill Series Round 3 in 2018, and has placed 13th in the British National rankings for the past 2 years.
He tells us it is the speed, adrenaline and buzz that he loves most.
“Pushing yourself to the limit, taking risks but still being in control. The feeling of crossing the finish line knowing you have done your best possible run is great.”
The feeling of crossing the finish line knowing you have done your best possible run is great.I knew I could make it at performance level when I made the youth (U17) category in 2012. I had several promising results that year, including becoming Scottish champion, winning a European international race, and a British round too.
The following year I was old enough to race in the junior World Cup series and was selected by Great Britain to compete in the 2013 Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships in South Africa – that’s still one of my all time highlights in fact! Since then I’ve been competing in about 12 races a year.”
In fact, his achievements are vast, and he continues to dominate he end elite end of his sport.
He is currently focused on training for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, taking place this year in Fort WIlliam on 1st and 2nd June.
“A home world cup is amazing. The noise and support from the spectators is unbelievable! It’s an incredible atmosphere.”
From here he will head to Andorra and Les Gets in France for their World Cup races. The summer season will the round off nicely at home, with the British Championships on 21st July and the Scottish Championships on 25th August 2019.
All of this requires a focused approached to training and for Sam this means a mix of gym and bike work.
“The majority of my downhill training is at local Scottish tracks, so Fort William, Dunkeld, borders. I also get out and do a fair bit of Cross Country riding and also bike sprints. This all helps train different muscle groups and helps you build stamina and endurance.
A home world cup is amazing. The noise and support from the spectators is unbelievable! It’s an incredible atmosphere. I do my strength & conditioning sessions at Bell’s Sports Centre - the gym has just been refurbished and it’s a massive improvement, which has really helped with my training. There is a much greater variety of equipment now so I’ve changed up my training more and added in new exercises. I’m so impressed with it; it’s got everything you could ask for.
“I use the strength and conditioning gym for free as part of the Live Active Leisure Talented Athlete Scheme, which I’ve been on for about 6 years now. I also go to the gym and circuit classes at Rodney as part of my regime – I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without that support!”
So what would be Sam’s advice for any young downhill bikers hoping to start racing?
“The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the process. Accept there will be lots of ups and downs along the way. Don’t get too uptight or concerned about results, especially when you’re young. Be patient, put in the hard work, have fun and the results will come.”
Together with Sportscotland and the Tayside & Fife Institute of Sport, Live Active Leisure works in developing the additional needs of high achieving athletes in the area.
These are the young athletes who demonstrate the skill and commitment required to represent Scotland and Great Britain on an international stage. Live Active Leisure’s Talented Athletes’ Scheme supports these young people by providing assistance and free access to their venues.
This enables them to reach their full potential and to achieve world class performance levels. This is about nurturing and developing our local talent by helping these young athletes train and grow in the support network of their home towns and city. By doing this, they hope to inspire other youngsters in Perth and Kinross and to bring that real sense of achievement a city embraces when celebrating the success of one of their own.
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