“I was really intrigued by where I lived because it was such a nice area with plenty of countryside,” explains Cam, now 25. “But I couldn’t just jump in the car, so the bike was my way to explore my surroundings. . ”
Fifteen years on, and Cam’s not done exploring yet. Now a professional cyclist with Lancashire’s own Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling team, he has gone on to compete in some of the UK’s biggest races and, with the new season in full swing, is in good spirits.
And it all comes down to a singular instinct: a desire to go fast.
“I always liked going fast,” says Cam. “When I first started competing, I was into BMX racing hitting jumps and really embracing that sense of enjoyment. It was as simple as that – as a kid, you don’t necessarily start something to be the best or to win, you do it out of enjoyment.
“When you’re having fun, you want to do it more and the results come from there,” he adds. “I was never the most talented, but I always showed up and trained hard and that was the driving factor behind why I became alright at cycling: I worked hard and enjoyed it.”
Having joined a friend down at his local BMX club in Coppull, it wasn’t long before Cam was racing nationally and internationally, winning races and catching eyes. But his attention was soon drawn away from the BMX track towards a different challenge: road racing.
“I’d always done road cycling as part of my BMX training and it was getting to the point where I was enjoying the training on the road bike more than the racing,” Cam says. “BMX is a risky sport, too, especially when you step up: bigger jumps, faster racing, and more risk.
“And, with BMX, as soon as you start having that bit of doubt in the back of your head, that’s the time to stop!”
Now 16, Cam faced the tricky prospect of going from a sport which necessitated 40-second sprints over aggressive jumps packed alongside seven other riders, so prolonged periods in the saddle during spirit-sapping endurance racers. Chalk and cheese isn’t the half of it.
“My handling skills and sprinting was strong from BMX, so those skills were transferable, but it took a lot of hard work,” says Cam. “I knew that, if I could get to the end of a road race, I could do well in the sprint to the finish line.
“The hard bit was getting to the end of the race!” he adds. “My body just wasn’t used to it and I struggled massively with endurance; I’d just cramp up. It probably took four or five years of training and doing longer rides to get my cardio system and muscles used to it. ”
But the hard work paid off and, before long, the prospect of Cam forging a career as a professional cyclist went from hope to reality.
“I’m not a very serious person and I tend to do things because I enjoy them, but there did come a point where I knew I wanted to make a go of being a professional cyclist,” says Cam. “Prior to that, I never really knew what I wanted to do growing up.
“I come from a hard-working family with an Irish farming background – my dad worked on the farm full-time from the age of 14,” he adds. “He’s a grafter and I saw how hard that life can be; he always told me that, if I had an opportunity to do something different, I should go for it.
“And, with cycling, there’s no secret formula, it’s just a case of getting your name out there and winning races,” Cam continues. “Plus, Ribble is my local bike company – the warehouse is 10 minutes from where I live – so when the opportunity to join them came up at the end of 2020, it was a great fit.”
A UCI Continental team founded in 2017, the Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling team is steeped in Lancastrian cycling pedigree, racing on bikes made by Ribble Cycles, a 125-year-old company which has been manufacturing bikes in the county since 1897.
Over winter, the team traveled to Calp on Spain’s Mediterranean coast for pre-season to allow the much-changed roster to gel after long periods of working solo. And, so far, matters are progressing nicely: the team has started the season in fine form. As has Cam himself.
After a stop-star season last year, which made planning, training, and competing tough, and after contracting Covid, Cam stormed to a win in the 2022 UCI European Continental Tour opener at the 60th Eddie Soens Memorial.
Following a dramatic final sprint to pip former teammate Charles Page of Saint Piran at the Aintree motor racing circuit, Cam describes the event as ‘the perfect race’.
“I’m definitely someone who trains better with a goal in mind, so when races were canceled last year, my head fell off a bit,” says Cam. “It was tough and I lost a lot of fitness, but I had a good winter last year and I’m in good physical condition.
“To win the first race of the season was a nice confidence boost,” he adds. “I really feed off good form and I knew I’d put the graft in, so I was quietly confident. But your numbers being good in training is one thing, finessing a race is something else entirely.
“The team’s great too – we’re good mates, which helps with chemistry because you trust your teammates,” Cam says. “The dynamic is good and the new bike is ridiculously fast, too, which is shown by the fact that the team has won almost every race so far this year.
“It’s a good combination of good riders, good chemistry, and a fast bike,” he adds, singling out races such as the Rutland CiCLE Classic, the Tour Series, and the Tour of Britain in September as stand-out dates on the calendar. . “We’re feeling confident.”
Away from life in the saddle, Cam has also cultivated another keen interest too: his cycling-based YouTube channel, which now boasts over 126,000 subscribers.
“I started the channel because people usually just see cyclists during races and I wanted them to know more about us athletes rather than just machines,” explains Cam. “I started making videos about training and it progressed to wacky challenges like taking a one-way flight to France and cycling home from there.
“Essentially, what I wanted to do was get more eyeballs on cycling by creating content which appeals to your average non-cycling fan,” he adds. “It started as a bit of fun and the views started coming in; at races now, people come up to say hello because they’ve seen the channel, which is nice.
“I was in Nando’s yesterday and got recognized, which was weird!” says Cam with a laugh. “For a moment, I’m like ‘where do I know you from?’ before I realize they know me from YouTube! ”