Name: Andrew Howett
Home: I was born and brought up in south Lincolnshire. Don't laugh, if Jamaica can have a bobsleigh team, Lincolnshire can have a mountain bike racer. However, I have recently moved up to the Scottish borders, which is a huge improvement topographically, if not metrologically.
Age: 34

Describe yourself in three words: Very bad at counting.

How did you get into mountain-bike racing? I've been riding bikes for years. A friend took me to a local race way back in 1999 and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I have no idea where I finished, somewhere near the back, but I had a great time and so did a few more races over the next couple of years. I started to take it more seriously after I graduated in 2003 and got my Elite XC licence for the 2005 season.

Best bit of racing? I love a nice technical descent as much as anyone, particularly when it is dry, dusty and 30°, I love the heat. Oddly enough, I also enjoy the climbs, seeing how hard I can push myself. But by far the best bit is the people I've met along the way.

Worst bit of racing? When I'm cold, wet and knackered, it's dark, -5°, raining hard and there's nine hours still to go. And my lights have just packed up.
But the harder it is, the bigger the sense of achievement at the finish.

Favourite race? Tough question. Probably the best course I've ever ridden was Finale Ligura in Italy for the 2012 24hr World Championship. In this country it has to be the National XC Champs at Innerleithen in 2009, I got my first UCI points in that one too. Fforrest Fields is fantastic in the dry and I love Badaguish as well.
For the race itself though nothing can beat the 2010 24hr World Champs at Mount Stromolo in Australia. Another fantastic course but the sheer size and scale of the event was like nothing I've ever seen. A real pain to get to but well worth the effort.

Most successful race? Although I've won smaller races the result of which I'm most proud has got to be either 13th at the World 24hrs in Australia in 2013 or 7th at the European 24hr the same year. I have a county record on the road, which I will mention at every available opportunity, I'm the only Lincolnshire rider to beat 400 miles in a 24hr time trial, 401.27 to be precise.

Favourite place to ride?
Off-road. I love going up north and just exploring, the area between Spean Bridge and Glencoe is fantastic. In the winter I do stick to the man-made trails, and Inners is definitely the best.
Road. I know a lovely route from St. Andrews around Glendevon, through Gleneagles and Blackford to Dunblane and then back to the sea. Only around 90 miles but very hard work. Shoalhaven to Kangaroo Valley in Oz was pretty special too.

Plans for 2015?
Well, there are big plans afoot, but for the first time in a very long time not all of them involve bikes.

I moved house up to the borders in February, since when I have changed jobs twice and am currently planning another, more permanent move to a house not far from Innerleithen. This of course all takes up a great deal of time and so I am unlikely to be doing nearly as much bike racing as I should.

The biggest race of the year for me will be a trip to Italy for the European 24hr Championship in May, This will be held at Finale Ligure, the venue which hosted the 2012 24hr WorldChampionship and the 2014 European 24hrChampionship, a fantastic course to which  I am really looking forward to returning. No doubt this will involve falling out with my credit card company, they are still a little cross with me after the Oz trip!

There is the Manx 100 in July, my third trip to the island, the new Keilder 101 and I keep threatening to try one of the Scottish Enduro series rounds and scare myself silly on the big bike.

The National 24hr Championship will be held at Fort William in October, the venue which hosted the World Championships last year.

I have no real plans for any road racing this year, but no doubt I will get talked into something at some point. Being back up north again there is now ample opportunity for fell-running, I can even see the Pentlands from my kitchen window. I lived in Fife for a few years a little while and realy miss the hill running. I haven’t run much at all since the fractured knee-cap incident of December 2012 and so I’m keen to get back into it.
The WEMBO 24hr World Championship is being held at Weaverville in California this year, but sadly with everything else going on I simply can’t afford to go. This will be the first World Champs I’ve missed since I first went to Stromlo in 2010. It sounds fantastic and I’m really sad not that I’m not going to be there. I might make it to New Zealand in 2016, but I will certainly be back at Finale for the 2017 race!

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