By Lauren Jenkins
Images copyright Damian McArthur Photography
Many things in life begin as a dream and although starting a downhill mountain bike team isn’t simple, when you have the passion, drive and determination to succeed, anything is possible.
After moving to the Alps in 2004, the Seagrave family settled in and fell in love with the mountains. The family bought a chalet in Saint Jean d’Aulps, which acted as the catalyst for the beginnings of FMD Racing. Tony Seagrave, FMD team manager and dad to Tahnée and Kaos, has always been a keen rider, racing BMX when he was younger. “The year we moved here, the World Championships were held in Les Gets. Tahnée saw Vanessa Quin win, and bizarrely the following year she came to stay in the chalet we ran. Tahnée fell in love with Vanessa’s baby blue bike and the following year Nigel Page (team manager at Nukeproof bikes) helped us make a smaller version of her Intense DH bike, especially for Tahnée.”
Tahnée was eight when she began taking mountain biking seriously and twelve when she started racing. Despite family riding holidays when she was younger, it was moving to the Alps that ignited her passion, and Kaos soon followed. In 2009, after realising both Tahnée and Kaos were talented riders, Follow My Dream (FMD) was launched.
“Tahnée has bankrupt the family with her pursuit of happiness” jokes Tony. “She had a dream, just like all of our children and we have done what we can to support that. We have been extremely lucky with the brands that came on board to help Tahnée and this was also the inception of the team. When it came to racing World Cups, there were so many great companies that believed in her, we felt the best way forward was to continue building our partnerships with the brands that helped her success as an amateur.”
The aim of FMD is to give young riders the opportunity to showcase their talent and give them guidance, Tony explains. “Knowledge is power. These kids come in and, no disrespect to mountain bikers in general, but the sport is way behind others with regards to people thinking they know everything – especially the riders. They don’t and here at FMD, we don’t either. But the ethos behind FMD is to try to give these youngsters the knowledge and skills to perform at the highest level.”
Five years on, with a huge social media following and support from the likes of Devinci, Fox Head and Marzocchi, it’s hard to believe that FMD are one of the smallest teams in downhill mountain biking. “It’s tough because where others have the cash to invest, we have to beg and borrow. What I do know is that the experience I gained working within other sporting fields has allowed me to select what I believe will be the best for our riders. The rest is down to top blagging.”
2014 saw Tahnée move from juniors into the elite riders category, coming into the year as Junior World Champion. Both her and Kaos had a great season in 2013, accompanied by Mike Jones, a young rider from Wales. After just one season with FMD, downhill giants Team CRC picked Mike up, and his replacement for 2014 is Neil Stewart. “Finding Mike was down to Tahnée, not me. She was invited to a RedBull camp in the UK back in 2012 and one of the riders was a young Mike Jones. She’d spoken about him, so when we started looking for a rider to join us, we started looking at Mike. He had amazing speed but was struggling with the whole package. I can safely say that when he left us to join Chain Reaction Cycles at the beginning of this season, they got the whole package. Neil Stewart was my spot and I also spotted the potential in Tahnée’s younger brother, Kaos.”
The team is supported by mechanic Matt Allingham and athlete trainer Chris Kilmurray. Sarah Muir has joined the team as Assistant Manager, a role created to develop sponsorship and business development opportunities and to concentrate on media relations. While FMD only picked up sponsorship from Devinci bikes this season, the team continues to go from strength to strength and is dedicated to helping riders fulfil their potential.
“The ultimate goal is to be able to fund the project properly so that we can truly develop young riders into world class athletes. This sport is like no other. It is fast, physical and dangerous. It requires a high skill level, immense fitness and an even greater mental ability. Young riders need to know that it is not just talent alone that will get them to the top, they need a good group of people that are focused on educating them specifically for their chosen sport. Not just on the race track but before, during and after.”
To keep up with the team, check them out on Facebook: /FMDracing