17-year-old cyclist from Jersey pursues pro-BMX dreams in Bognor Regis

How a determined teenager followed his passion from Jersey to Bognor Regis.

Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 12:13 pm

Whether its indoors or outdoors, stunt ramps or dirt tracks, Raphael Ibbet has always loved cycling.

“He’s a very keen rider,” said dad Carl Ibbet. “During the summer holidays he was out on his bike for eight, nine, ten hours a day. He’d go out in the morning and come back at night. He really pushed himself.”

And while Jersey, with its miles of track and rugged coastal terrain, offered ‘Raph’ plenty of opportunities to sharpen his skills as an outdoor rider, there were far fewer chances to pursue his real passion: BMX.

Aspiring BMX cyclist Raphael Ibbet

“It’s really limited over here. We’ve actually just had a new skate park approved and they’re looking to start building it next year, but what we have got is all outdoors. There are no good facilities. It was all put up temporarily ten years ago and the kids just have to make the most of it,” Carl said.

Raphael, having achieved everything he could at home and not content to wait a year for adequate facilities, took it on himself to improve his skills.

He got a job, saved up his wages, and organised a six-day trip to the mainland with friends, hoping to sharpen his BMX skills in better equipped facilities. Bognor Regis, home to The Base on Oldlands Way, a cutting edge indoor skatepark with 8,000 square feet of wooden ramps, was the obvious destination.

When Raphael’s original plan to visit the town with friends fell through, most other 17-year-olds would have quietly given up, but the young cyclist, who has hopes of one-day going pro was determined to make it work, and made the trip to the mainland on his own.

Thankfully, it all paid off. Raphael said visiting Bognor Regis as made his dream seem that much more possible.

“Bognor has been a great place for me to stay,” he said. “All the people are friendly and everything is close enough to get to on a bike.

“I wanted to come here so I could ride at the Base Skatepark, it’s one where many professionals have trained and it has a foam pit and resi lamp, so you can learn new tricks with little consequence if you crash.

“Ever since I started to ride my bike a lot, I wanted to become a professional and hope to eventually become sponsored by some brands and compete around the world. Being stuck in Jersey meant this would be a lot harder, but my visit to Bognor Regis has brought me closer to my goal.