Radical Bikes. The heart and soul.

Mick Mitchell has a warm smile and a big heart. He is the brawn behind Radical Bikes nr Blackmore in Essex (I say brawn, wife Maria will always be the brains I suspect). Radical is a unique place. Formally a flat farmer’s field it has been transformed in the past few years to a full on dirt and trials spot complete with mini ramps, quarters and a foam pit. Radical has a great family atmosphere, with good reason as it’s a family run site. Local pros are to be found there at any time and any look at the social media profiles of Tom Cardy or Joe Simkins show that they more or less live there. Regular visits from bigger names such as Sam Pilgrim add to the venue’s reputation and help inspire the ever growing groups of riders who visit the site each weekend.

 Tell us about why you began Radical Bikes

 We have two sons – Matt and Tom who are both keen cyclists. Matt rides trials and Tom rides dirt jumps. The whole idea of Radical Bikes came to us whilst on holiday in Cornwall with two boys and two different bikes. Cornwall has some great riding spots for both sports, so one son would be in heaven, riding his particular discipline, while the other son was saying, ‘when can we go somewhere else?’ Sitting in a coffee shop, my wife and I thought wouldn’t it be great if there was one place where both kids would be happy. And thus the idea was born.

 Why is Radical a special place?

 We think Radical is a special place because it brings together all levels and ages of riders, giving them an opportunity to try something new, to hone their particular talent and to make new friends. They can hang out with like-minded riders, where it doesn’t matter if you’re the best or the worst. It’s a place where young street-style riders are encouraged, rather than criticised.

 How does the project benefit the local area?

 We have added a unique cycling venue to this area. There was nothing like our centre in the UK. We feel we have put Radical Bikes on the map as a cool place to ride and we currently have  over 1400 riders registered with us. 60% of our riders are local young people.

 What have been your personal highlights since Radical’s conception?

 For me there have been a variety of personal highlights. We have had several weekend events at Radical Bikes where riders from all over the UK and Europe have come to enjoy riding with us. At these events we have had world champions such as Dani Comas, Jack Carthy  and Vincent Hermance. Also we have had Red Bull and Channel 4 star Danny McCaskill here, together with Sam Pilgrim – FMB world champion. These are the best riders in the world, enjoying what we have made. We were also honoured in 2012 to be part of the Olympic Torch relay, when it came to Chelmsford, with my son Matt riding on the main stage alongside the torch, in front of many thousands of spectators.

Also I am proud of the fact that Tom is now working with schools, training children to ride and enjoy safe cycling. Additionally, he is educating lorry drivers to be aware of cycle safety, as part of the Safer Urban Driving Initiative.

 We have helped many local youngsters go on to make their chosen sport a career, rather than just a hobby. But the most satisfying aspect is seeing youngsters starting out and learning a new skill, whether it be just for fun or to be taken to the next level.

We have all ages at Radical, 4 to 40+, beginners to the world’s best; it all comes down to one thing in my book - Kids having fun on bikes.

 What has been the most difficult aspect of running Radical so far?

 Obviously, as an outdoor venue, we are always up against the Great British weather! Also, we all have ‘day jobs’ so Radical Bikes takes up all our spare time during the season. Having our shop broken in to was particularly upsetting and financially very difficult.

 What do you hope Radical will achieve in the future?

 We hope it will continue to grow and support the local and wider cycling communities. We will continue to develop it as a cool place to ride and a cycle shop that offers an alternative to the internet where you can ‘try before you buy’, in a place made for that bike to see if the sports are for you before the money is spent (which is certainly not available on the web!). Somewhere the community can be proud of.

 And a special mention to...?

 Maria, my best friend, without her nothing would happen, because without her I am helpless in every way.


Radical Bikes host the annual RadFest on the 10th,11th & 12th July. For more details see www.radicalbikes.co.uk