Feature: Jonny, Alice & Lucas Towers

Chat with boss at Motodirect, Jonny Towers, his daughter Alice and son Lucas who ride for the brands Jonny founded, RST/Cycle Division in a young rider focused team

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Feature: Jonny, Alice & Lucas Towers

The Towers Family
A little while ago, VeloUK attended a get together of the RST/Cycle Division team which has among its ranks, a former World Madison champion in Emily Nelson and former pros too.

Alice, Jonny and Lucas at the RST/Cycle Division team team get together

The team has riders of all ages from youth to veterans and so has a great mix of experience as well as youthful ambition. As well as Emily Nelson, there is the likes of former professionals Kieran Frend and Dan Fleeman, the latter won the CiCLE Classic only a few years ago. They are helping to mentor lots of young girls and boys in the Junior and Youth teams of RST/Cycle Division which can only help these youngsters fulfil their ambitions in the sport.

Cycling after all is a tough sport, full of hard knocks from time to time and help for the future stars of the sport is priceless which is just what the brands of RST and Cycle Division are providing to these up and coming riders. It should never been forgotten that this team has supported riders who are now are house hold names to fans of the sport and who knows, they may even have a higher profile in years to come.

Gabz Cullaigh who rides for Team Wiggins now and Tom Stewart who is in the colours of Canyon DHB are just two of the stars from the past in this team as is Joey Walker (Madison Genesis) and Abby-Mae Parkinson (Drops), both with UCI teams in 2019. There are many others.

Alice Towers and Josie Nelson who competed in the Women’s Junior National Series last weekend

The focus of the team are the young riders and there is no better example of this than the Towers family where Jonny and Sam are helping their two youngsters Alice and Lucas to fulfil their own ambitions in a family of achievers.

Alice Towers, a winner in South Africa in the winter there, was in the mix for the wins in the recent Women’s Junior National Series two day in Lincolnshire and has already won Women’s Elite races in her first year Junior tenure. Lucas had a win on Tuesday at the Mallory Youth League and has got himself into the top 10 ranked Under 16 riders year to date with consistent top placings.

VeloUK spoke to a proud dad in Jonny Towers, one fast motor cyclist. Following Jonny on twitter, I see regularly just the just how good he is on a motor cycle with major victories in his sport. But that is taking a back seat to a certain extent as the Towers family gets behind Alice and Lucas and their cycling ambitions.

Jonny was born in the UK but grew up in Capetown (South Africa) and came back to the UK with aspirations of being a motorcycle racer. He put his head down doing that and was racing the TT races on the Isle of Man which he now sponsors with RST added to racing across the UK and Europe.

Jonny and the 2019 team for RST/Cycle Dvision outside the shop in Barton Under Needwood

He may be a quietly spoken gent but Jonny had bucket loads of ambition and in his younger days on a motorcycle was up there in the mix in the big races even though at that age, he had a lot to learn. That learning took a hard knock when he ended up on the tarmac. “I had a big crash and smashed myself up pretty badly” he explained “and took some time out to recover”.

“I started working and stopped racing motorbikes for a long time and instead worked within the industry. While I didn’t race motorbikes for 25 years, I started riding bicycles when I was in my 30s and in those days, I went from a third cat to an Elite within a couple of years. I rode a lot with Neil Martin (Dan Martin’s dad and twice a former British RR champion), and then I rode with Chris Walker and guested with the Linda Macartney squad at the Tour of Bermuda”.

Unlike Neil and Chris, who had successful professional careers in the sport of cycling, Jonny made a career out of founding RST at Motodirect, one of the leading clothing brands in the world for motorcyclists. RST has around 70 distributors in countries around the world and is probably one of the top brands in Australia, South Africa, Europe and its number 1 in the UK by a long way.

… continued after advert

Cycle Division’s Shop

The motorcycle brand distribution is the main part of his business MotoDirect whilst Cycle Division is an offshoot of that with the RST cycling kit and Cero wheels. When not managing this very successful business, Jonny still has plenty of ambition on the motorcycle race track and age is proving to be no barrier. “I won a British championship at 52 but when you put a helmet on, age doesn’t really matter because while it’s physical, it’s not as physical as bicycle racing.”

Just how physical cycle racing can be is something that his children Alice and Lucas are finding out as they have recently realised they can compete at the top level in the sport of cycling in the UK as Jonny explained.

“In the last few years, Alice and Lucas have got involved in racing their bikes. Alice was doing the odd local Curborough race and Lucas was doing local racing too whilst also playing football. It was Daryl Harvey, who is a coach at Lichfield and an RST rider liaison manager, who said to me he should take Alice to the nationals. He really pushed her and she did her first national series race and finished 4th at London’s Hog Hill.”

“She came within half a bike length of winning it and it was like, she can do this. So she rode half a series and never finished outside the top six and came close to winning a couple on the back of doing some café rides. Nothing training wise was formal; we just rode as a family to enjoy it and up until a few months ago, Alice had never done an interval session or trained in a structured way”.

“Lucas meanwhile was playing football at a good level and cycling as well and that is quite difficult to race a bike race after playing football the day before. Then, in the last six months, he’s taken to it and improved massively just by concentrating on one sport. He’s trained hard in the winter and is up there among the top riders in the UK. He too wants to ride the national series this year so my motorbike thing is going to have to work around getting them to races.”

“I am committed to do a European championship which I need to prioritise and then the other stuff will have to take a backseat to these two”.

Listening to the softly spoken boss of Motodirect, I could see the parallels with some one who works within MotoDirect as well, former British champion Chris Walker. His son and daughter (Joey and Jessie) also got involved in the sport as youth riders and whilst Jessie left the sport when racing at a world level as a senior to pursue other ambitions, Joey is a pro with Madison Genesis and rode for Team Wiggins before that.

The parallels with Chris’s work with his children in cycling is not lost on Jonny. “I am on a journey now that Chris was on with his children” says Jonny. “These youngsters are the next generation of what Chris did with Gabz, Joey, Jessie, Grace, Abby-Mae, Lewis Askey and others. “We’ve had loads of big talents in the RST/Cycle Division team and it’s a hard act to follow. This lot here (the squad of young riders at the team get together) though are the next generation and I’m following in Chris’s footsteps and realising how much time it takes to keep on top of it.”

Alice racing in South Africa in 2019

Sitting with Jonny was his daughter Alice who earlier this year on the track, combined with the Nelson sisters of Emily, Josie and Lucy to come close to winning a medal in the Team Pursuit. Now she is showing great form in the Junior Women’s National Series. Talking about her sport of cycling, Alice says “It’s been really fun. I haven’t felt pressure for any of it. I have just been enjoying it and when you are doing well, you enjoy it more.”

“But I am excited to see what else I can do and what opportunities I can have. I am really good friends with Josie so when we organised the team pursuit team, I met Emily (World Madison champion in 2018) and Lucy and we did really good in that so I think this year will be a good year for RST and the girls team”.

“Every race I do I enjoy. Maybe if I didn’t enjoy it, I’d feel pressure.” Alice is still at school and mixes her school work with the training. “I do have a coach now (Dan Fleeman) so I do more structured sessions which helps me fit it around my homework. I am enjoying that so I get home from school in the evening, do a bit of home work and then get on the turbo. I try to get most of my work done at school so I can train when I get home”.

Lucas, who this week had a win, says he too is enjoying the racing. He’s really committed to it this year saying “I did some nationals at the end of last year and enjoyed them. I didn’t get any big results but I enjoyed the tactics of it all and the fast racing so I came out of it wanting to compete at that level.”

“I had a big winter and I think I am going better this year. My dad gives me a lot of advice on the tactics and knows where to be at what time in a race and that is very helpful. I saw Alice was doing well at a national level and it really inspired me to do she has done too. I’ve really enjoyed track racing too so am working on that side of my riding too”.

Their racing, like it has for many others I’ve interviewed over the years, comes from riding together as a family as Jonny explained. “We’d only ever ridden as a family and every time we rode together, it was an adventure. We never finished the rides with them on their knees and saying they didn’t enjoy that.”

“I just want them to enjoy it and I’ll support them to go as far as they can. Alice said last year she wanted to see how far she can go with it and Lucas is the same and wherever that is, we’ll back them as a family because it does take a full family commitment. Sam (Jonny’s wife) puts in as much in as all of us.”

Joey Walker in the RST/Cycle Division colours – he now rides for Madison Genesis

“I look at the life Jessie has had and what Joey is up to and I think it would be incredible if Alice and Lucas can get anywhere near that level but it’s important they enjoy it above all”.

The final word was on the RST/Cycle Division team. As well as a strong women’s squad of juniors and youth riders with the likes of Alice and Josie, the team also has a good squad of Junior and Youth boys.

“We have got a really good junior boys team which will do the National Series this year” Jonny says. “We have got Matt Kingston, Hayden Norris, Dan Barnes, and Finn Masfield and they have come together as unit and have aspirations to do well as first year juniors along with Toby Barnes who was 7th at the National CX Champs so I think the kids will go well this year”.

“The aim is to build that team as a strong unit for next year and then Lucas will move up to the junior ranks into it next year as will Matt Malone. They have the likes of Kieran, Matt Higgins, myself and Dan Fleeman mentoring them and we all train locally. Our local chain gang is a real proving ground and solid session for them all.”

My thanks to Jonny, Alice and Lucas for the chat and we wish them a successful year racing… Watch out for Alice and Lucas in the results on VeloUK!

Gabz Cullaigh, one of the stars of the British scene and winner abroad too, rode for RST Cycle Division

Jessie Walker in the top spot during her days racing for RST/Cycle Division



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