Leon Haslam, together with the Lowes twins, Sam and Alex plus Jake Dixon and Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher, were on hand to try and enjoy the experiences of the new Clip and Climb Derby fun fitness centre which was officially opened by John and Emma Haslam O’Toole.
“It’s really physical,” explained Leon who had been working out at his sister Emma’s latest business venture. “I had done a bit of rock climbing when I was with BMW – they had sent us on a three week training camp, so I have a bit of experience. This is good, really demanding, lots of different disciplines and it is good for everyone from kids through.
“When you go for it, the sweat is pumping out of you,” he added, showing off his blistered hands, no doubt after hours of practice to show he was fastest on the various climbs. “For me, it is very good for my fitness and both Sam and Alex train with me and Jake who has just moved into the area goes cycling with us.”
For Leon it is all part of the preparations for the new season of MCE Insurance British Superbike action in which, with the JG Speedfit Bournemouth Kawasaki team he is aiming to take the title for the first times, having come so close three times before, none more so than last season when he battled all of the way with the eventual champion Shane Byrne.
“This season will be tough, it always is, especially with Sylvain Guintoli coming in, Josh Brookes returning, but I still believe that it will be between Shane and me, but for me, already they pace is there and in testing my bike has been quicker than last year.
“The whole team is working flat out for me, and it all feels good and strong – it will be my second year with the bike and every step is going forwards. Now it is about winning races and hopefully with my team-mate Luke Mossey, who is a bit green but very fast, we can get a lot of one-twos for Kawasaki.”
They head for Spain at the end of the month, with six days of testing planned, four at Cartagena, and then on to Guadax, as they prepare for the opening round at Haslam’s home circuit of Donington Park over the weekend of 1-2 April. “For me, it is the ideal circuit to start on – I know it well, we know the set-up for it so in those senses the pressure is off. It has to be good for us,” said Haslam.