Martyn Dobson – a remembrance
The following was contributed by Marcus Smith in memory of Martyn Dobson who died in December, 2008.
I first met Martyn on a training ride from Middlesbrough to Richmond in North Yorkshire, a circular ride of about 80 miles. He was 15 years old and had been a Cleveland Wheeler for about a year. I was aged 20 and was back from University for the summer, training for the regional Road Race Champs the following week.
I had taken a few of the junior riders out on the ride, stopping off to watch some of our club mates racing in a track race in Richmond. The youngsters were to become a classy bunch: Dobson, his school friend Andrew Jackson, my younger brother Daniel Smith, Ian Childes and Chris Smart; a team of under 18 year olds who would, over the next few years win regional and national acclaim with their spirited cycle racing. Martyn struck me as being unusually strong and talented: a young lad who could churn round a large gear with ease. He was also very determined, resourceful, and blessed with a strong personality. Riding up the long hill towards Richmond, I ‘turned the screw’ making the youngsters feel the pain of the pedals. Whilst others were lost in the land of suffering, Martyn was busily plotting humorous and alas, slightly dastardly deeds. Riding next to me, he moved in closer, reached out his hand, and found the lever to operate my gears. This is where the humour took a sneaky turn for the worse. My brain worked in slow motion as I saw our handlebars become one, my eyes not really believing what they were seeing. It was too late to take evasive action, but I did, and we ended up in a heap in the road. Martyn was lucky, he and bike landing in the safety of the grassy verge. My bike and I were less lucky: twisted forks at the front, bent hanger at the back and several layers of skin mingling with tarmac. Being more than a little miffed, lying in the road, mouth full of curses, I was sure that if I never saw the young Dobson again, it would be way too soon…. But I was wrong. It wasn’t long before the ‘day with the gears’ became a trigger for much mirth and merriness, and now fifteen years later, still brings back fond memories.
Martyn was to become an integral member of the racing group, his dedication and passion for cycling never waning, but it was his character that gave the extra dimension that makes a team something more. Forever keeping us entertained with endless ideas, some crazy, some ingenious, some just hilarious – like the time he hack-sawed off several teeth from his front chain ring every quarter, claiming that they weren’t necessary, and were just dead-weight; like the time he created a mould and made a saddle entirely from carbon and glass fibres to save weight; like the time he sawed through his handlebar stem then welded it back at an unlikely angle to gain a lower position on the bike. These ended in amusing consequences: stopping every 10 seconds to pick up the chain; realising that the saddle couldn’t fit to a bike; and sprawling in a mess in front of time-keeper and spectators. Martyn was full of invention, always thinking and looking for progress. Hundreds of hours passed in conversation, idly pontificating, semi-seriously plotting setting up bike companies with ideals to rival any other in the world. When there was something to discuss, it was discussed in detail. When there was nothing to discuss, it was discussed in detail. This is what was great about Martyn. Conversation was easy, it was deep and it was fun. And this is what I miss.
Fifteen years of team camaraderie; chilled out camping trips; work parties; weddings and just hanging out forge deep friendships. A truer group of friends would be harder to imagine. Speaking from a collective, the loss felt is huge. Rest in peace Martyn.
Martyn’s cycling CV starts aged 15 when he won the Cleveland Division Under 16 Road Champs – his dedication, self-belief and natural strength a pointer for the future.
Other notable results include:
- Green ‘points’ jersey in the English Schools International stage race in 1994, awarded to the most consistent stage finisher.
- National Student Championship Gold medals: 50 km team time trial, Team Pursuit, Olympic Sprint – 1998 – 2000
- Gold medal: Scottish 100 km Team Trial Championship – 1998
- Open National Team Pursuit: 4th (with a club record) – 1998
Martyn’s last race I remember was the 2003 Hartlepool Carnival Road Race. It was in August and, due to a niggling knee injury, was his first race of the year. He rode a perfect race: intelligently, selflessly and strongly, covering the breaks, blocking if I was up the road and resting when possible. We both made the final break, and he attacked in the last kilometre, He held the chasers and took a fantastic lone victory – a fine memory.
After graduating Martyn concentrated his energies on his professional career, his second passion of computer graphics. A year spent in industry led him to spend a year with his own company. Here he won the contract to write the graphics code for the Tacx home trainer – a break-through in personal training linking home training to home computers. Another project led him to move to the Netherlands to work on flight simulation graphics. He was recently working on mobile software utilising GPS to training aids.
Marcus Smith – February 2009