It all started when I started to ride my little yellow bike around at the local grass tracks when my dad used to compete, he was also a cyclist (and still is!). I think I was about five years old.
I got my first racing bike when I was eight, and raced on it the whole summer in the kid’s races. Each year I played football in the winter and raced in the summer, mostly grass track but some criteriums too. I still won a few races though.
Straight out of school I went to college to learn the building trade for two years, but these two years were the time when I started to train properly in the winter, and race hard on the road in the summer. I still raced on the track too, the grass track to be precise. I feel that this is where I learnt my bike skills, how to get through gaps that don’t seem to be there etc. This is also when I won my first big bike race, a British Championship at senior level, the 8km scratch on grass, I was only 17 and the youngest ever to win this event, pretty cool. I have gone on to win this a further 3 times over the years, in 1996, 1999, and 2003.
When I was 18 I had a very good year on my bike, gaining selection for the British Junior Track Team for the season and being short-listed for the World Junior Championships. I tried to manage my studies for my final year college exams and gain selection for the Junior Worlds. I failed at both. Oops! I still won some races though.
It was then decision time: cycling or studying. Studying came first and I went on to enrol in a four year University Degree course at Sheffield Hallam University in Construction Management, four years of my cycling life put on hold. I still managed to win some races on track and road. I also got through a tough University course and landed a job in London for 18 months as a Site Engineer. This is what I had slaved over for four years and it all paid off, I had a great job in the big smoke.
But in my heart I was a cyclist, my dad a cyclist, my grandfather too. I even won some races whilst working all hours that were sent to me. 1999 was my crunch year when my manager at work had a little talk with me, and persuaded me to have a crack at full time cycling. He put it this way: “You can work until you are 65, you can’t race around on your bike at a top level when you are 65”. So, off to Australia for three months to experience everything life had to throw at me and train full time too, three months later and I was ready to become a full time cyclist. I spent my first full time season in 2000 racing with Kingsnorth International Wheelers in Belgium, this was a hard school of racing but I seemed to fit in pretty well, winning two races that year.
2001 was spent back in Belgium with a Belgian amateur team, I liked it so much that I stayed and lived there for two more seasons. I became British Criterium Champion in 2002 and British Madison Champion with my Brother Russ in 2003, before returning to the UK for two seasons to become a member of the Great Britain World Class Performance Plan. I have to say I had some of the best form I have ever had winning 20 races in two years.
2005 was my first year signing a contract as a professional cyclist. This was a good year in some respects, but also a bad one too, crashing out in the middle of the season put me out for six weeks.
2006 was a year in Belgium with DFL, and a return to the UK scene with a brand new team Rapha Condor for 2007. This was the start of a great period for me, a win in my favourite UK race, Lincoln GP, was the highlight there along with seven more victories, and in 2008 I became the British Crit Champ again and won some big international races too, eight in total.
From 2007 until 2012, I was with the Rapha Condor Sharp team where we’ve enjoyed many successes, which you can see on my results page. I’ve also worked as a pundit on TV and have thoroughly enjoyed acting as an ambassador for three of the coolest brands in cycling; Rapha, Condor and Sharp.
2012 was a very tough season for me with several bouts of unexplained illness. After 6 of the best seasons in my career with the Men in Black, I have now moved over to a brand new team for 2013, Madison Genesis. With lots of other new ventures within my business world too, the future looks busy, very busy.
Since I started racing when I was eight years old back in 1983 I have won at least one bike race each year. I have a total somewhere in my book of results. Maybe I should add them up one day.
Keep logging on,
Name: Dean ‘Deano’ Downing
Date of Birth: 24th January 1975
Interests: Making my Daughter Lily laugh.
Favourite food: In season: the wife’s spaghetti bolognese… Off season: Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas.
Favourite Result: Winning 2007 Lincoln GP, and Stage 2 of the 2008 Sachsen Tour 2.1 UCI Race.
Bike: Genesis Volare 953
Quote: “Don’t do big tests, do big results instead.”