By Harriet Whitehead
Meet the septuagenarian grandad who is still giving kids the ride around – to be crowned Britain’s oldest BMXer.
At 72, biker Paul Mounsey has found a new lease of life after taking up the sport in his sixties following more than 40 years working as a lorry driver.
The adrenalin junkie, who has broken his collarbone twice, travels all over the world competing – often against people 20 years younger than him.
Dubbed the godfather of UK BMX, the single grandad-of-three is ranked 23rd in his category nationally – and is famous across the world for his talents.
Paul, from Bedford, Bedfordshire, said: “I find BMXing totally exhilarating.
“If you stand on the edge of a steep eight metre hill, you’re thinking ‘I’m not going to be able to do that’.
“It scares the living daylights out of me, but I really feel like I’m alive and to hear people chanting your name – you can’t beat that feeling.
“I worked as a lorry driver for 40 years but got made redundant at the age of 63 and a couple of friends suggested I get a mountain bike
“I’d go to a local track then I started to race four-cross with a team. Some of the younger lads saw me on the mountain bike and suggested I try the BMX.
“I really enjoyed it – it wasn’t too technical and I wasn’t jumping or freestyling, just racing.
“It’s really down to your legs, peddling and how strong you are.
“I bought a BMX cruiser bike and started going to the track. Everybody was so much younger than me but I didn’t care.
“In the US they have more competitors my age, but I’m the UK’s oldest BMXer. It takes my breath away when I think about it.”
Dad-of-two Paul, who took up the sport when he was 65, now competes with the elite ICE team – who were named National BMX Team Champions in 2018.
He rides every weekend, taking part in regional and national competitions in the UK and across Europe and the US in the 50-plus category.
This month he’ll be travelling to Dallas, Texas, to compete in the Super Nationals and to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the BMX Grands in November.
Although admitting he’s not the fastest on the track, he’s qualified for the BMX championships three times – and has even lost three stone in weight.
And for the past two years, he has kept his place as 16th out of 36 riders in his category.
Paul said: “It keeps me really fit. I’ve improved my health, I gave up smoking and started doing CrossFit to improve my fitness for competitions.
“I’ve gone from 14 stone to 11 stone in weight and I’m as fit as a 40-year-old.
“For the last two years I’ve kept my place of 16th out of 36 riders in my category.
“The last two or three years I’ve been one hundred per cent BMX. Most weekends I’m travelling up and down the country to club events.
“Because of social media I’m known all over the world. When you get French people coming up to you and asking for selfies it feels really special. It’s like a second career.
“My daughter Karen, 46, worries that I’m going to crash but my 18-year-old granddaughter Gracie thinks it’s great.
“She thinks I’m amazing and that it’s the best thing in the world.”
Despite suffering a few injuries, Paul is determined to keep riding for a least a couple more years.
But he does plan to give up the sport in 2020, aged 74.
He said: “I have suffered a few injuries – I’ve broken my collarbone twice and my thumb and have had a few bruised knees. I did suffer concussion a few years ago. I was in hospital for four or five hours.
“I’m thinking about riding until 2020 and giving it up when I’m 74. I’m building up to a big run in the USA and then I’m thinking about calling it a day. I want to go out on a high.”