With the Ulster and Irish motocross championships underway, Cailum Meara looks to have stepped up his game for the 2018 season.
Young Cailum joins his two Brothers, Jason and John in the expert class and will want to bang bars with them throughout the course of the season.
We caught up with Cailum to discuss his start to the season.
Gatedrop: Cailum, the season is underway now! You had a good first round of the Irish Championship, can you just me through your day?
Cailum Meara: Yeah I was quite happy on how my day went, I went in with a goal of a top 5 finish overall and I came out with that so I can’t complain. I knew it was going to be tough as it’s no secret that the Kawasaki straight out of the box lacks some power compared to the likes of the Husky or KTM so I was quite pleased with the outcome of the day.
In all my races I came from behind and was able to match the guys at the front which felt quite weird for me as I thought I was going to struggle in the deep sand on a standard bike compared to the guys at the front which are all on KTM’S or Huskys that all have work done to them so to be able to match their pace I was over the moon with that. I just cant wait to get to the hardpack. Last year the last 5-10 minutes of the race I struggled a lot but this year I’ve put in some serious hard work with Ruairi Grimes from Five1Eight fitness at Focus Gym and my fitness has never been better so I’m looking forward to getting more racing underway.
Gatedrop: At the first round of the Ulster, things didn’t go your way with a bike problem. What exactly was the issue?
Cailum Meara: Yeah, the first round of the Ulster was very disappointing for me. The top 7-8 in the MX2 class is so close in speed so you constantly have to be on it to run with the front guys and with the wet conditions that day I just struggled a lot. In the first race I had a clutch issue which resulted in a DNF.
Gatedrop: You then borrowed a bike from William Hogg for the last two moto’s and actually looked pretty good! How did that bike compare to your own? You looked pretty comfortable on it..
Cailum Meara: I can’t thank William Hogg enough from ServiceClean Master for the lend of the bike, he really pulled me out of a hole so big up to him, there’s not many people that are like him. He came straight over to me as soon as I had pushed my bike back and offered me instantly so once again I cant thank him enough.
It’s not really that I felt comfortable with the bike but it was basically just the exact same as my bike that I had been riding from the start of the year, it was completely standard so it was just the same. I’ve never been one to be fussy about what I ride, I just get on the bike and give 110% every single time, sometimes that doesn’t pay off for me but I live and learn and I’m constantly gaining experience as each race goes by so I’m really excited to see what the rest of the season brings.
Gatedrop: At the weekend you contested the first round of the MXY2 championship in the MX Nationals. You just missed a podium by a point! Can you talk me though your weekend?
Cailum Meara: Yeah I’ve mixed emotions on my first MXY2 race at the weekend. I was gutted that I missed the podium by a point but it’s no ones fault other than my own. The first race on Saturday was in really tough conditions but I rode a smart race, stayed out of trouble, used my head and brought it home in a solid 3rd place. The next race was on Sunday morning on what was a completely different track, the track was now dry and it was a proper race and not just a survival like the Saturday. I got off to a good start and was riding kind of tight on the first part of the race and got passed pushing me back to 3rd.
From seeing the signals that Jason and my Dad were giving me from the side of the track I took a deep breath and regrouped and near got 2nd place back but I crossed the line in third after a hard fought race. This was an important result for me as Saturday was wet and just kind of survival but to ride deep sand on a standard bike against those guys is very tough and to get a 3rd felt more rewarding to me as everyone was there and on top of their game and to know I had the speed was very satisfying for me. Going into the last race I was feeling really confident and got off to a not such a good start. I got taken out twice on the first lap, got going again and then collided with a rider in the air, I came from near last back to 9th and that’s where I finished. I came in after the race and was trying to do the maths in my head and to find out I missed the podium by a point was so gutting, I just kind of stared into space for a few minutes. I was so angry and so disappointed but I had so many positives to take from the weekend I can’t be angry with myself as I know I belonged on the podium.
Gatedrop: I believe a few weeks before the start of the season you didn’t have a ride but at the last minute you got sorted with bikes from Watt. How come you were in that situation and you must be happy to have got yourself a ride?
Cailum Meara: Yeah, a few weeks before the start of the season I still hadn’t ridden a bike from the October before so I was starting to panic. I was finding it so hard to stay motivated with training and everything else because I was at such a disadvantage compared to the other guys before we even got started.
I had some plans on what I was doing and it kind of all went up to left and I was standing about 3 weeks out from the start of the season and I still hadn’t ridden a bike. I gave Ricky Watt a call at Norman Watt Motorcycles and within a week he had a bike for me so huge thanks to him.
Gatedrop: Most of the top MX2 riders are either on Husqvarna’s or KTM’s, how are you finding the Kawasaki and are you having to stay with the front riders without riding over the limit?
Cailum Meara: Yeah, all the guys at the front are all on KTM’s or Huskys which is no secret that they have a lot more speed than a Kawasaki but at this moment in time it isn’t possible for me to ride one of them bikes. Guys complain that the Kawasaki is down on power and its not a good bike etc. but I have to say I love the bike. Yes, it is down in power but I feel it makes me work harder and I have to ride harder to stay with the front guys but surely that can only benefit me in the future.
This year I don’t feel like I’m riding over my limit to stay with the front guys, at the minute I feel like I have the pace to run with them but I’m making too many mistakes. The guys at the front barely make any mistakes and that’s where I’m loosing my time so I’m trying really hard at the minute to iron out all those silly small mistakes and by doing that I don’t see why I cant be battling at the front of the class comfortably.
Gatedrop: What are your expectations for this season and for the MXY2 Maxxis British Championship too?
Cailum Meara: I don’t really have any expectations. It may sound unrealistic but every time I line up on the start line I want to win no matter what race it is. If the win is not possible then I will get the best result possible to me so I don’t want to say I have any expectations or anything. All I’m saying is I would like to be at the front of every race and to able to battle for the win or the top few positions and ill be happy.
Gatedrop: Obviously your brother Jason is at the front of the Ulster and Irish Championships. What do you think you need to do to be with him and the likes of McCormick, Smith, Mackrel, Sheridan etc every week?
Cailum Meara: Yeah Jason is riding really good at the minute you can’t take that away from him. Ummm, I don’t think I really need to change anything. At the first round of the Irish I caught most of them guys and was running their pace comfortably and actually had found my way passed some of them so there’s nothing much that needs changed. Like I’ve said before I still need to limit the mistakes and I should be right there.
I also have to keep reminding myself I’m still just 17 so this year I just want to ride smart. The likes of Jason, Glenn, Sheridan and Mackrel all have the capability of top 15 in a Maxxis British Championship and some of them guys could even run top 10 on the right day so it’s not like them guys are slow – they know what they’re at! So, it’s going to be very tough to run their pace but I believe I’m capable of doing it and so do the guys around me so I’m going to give it my best shot.
Gatedrop: You’re more of a hard pack rider so you must be looking forward to the harder tracks later in the season?
Cailum Meara: Yeah anyone that knows me knows that I’m definitely not a sand rider, it’s not that I hate it I just feel more comfortable on the hard pack so yeah I cant wait to get back to the hard pack. It’s still very early in this long season so I have to be patient and not rush anything, there’s a lot of racing still left.
Gatedrop: You’ve already had a lot of injuries throughout your career, do you think it’s important to ride smart this year to last the season and then try to build for 2019?
Cailum Meara: Yeah of course, the most important thing is to stay healthy this year. Last year was my first full season in the past 5-6 years and when I say full season I still was unable to compete in the MXY2 championship as I picked up ligament damage in my shoulder so it’s so important to stay healthy. There’s a lot of racing left so I need to ride smart and not get caught up in the moment. I’m constantly gaining experience from watching and listening to the likes of Jason, John and Sean Devlin who all help me whenever they can with my riding and its really benefiting me this year.
Also, the Honda 150 European championship really helped to mature me, some people may disagree as I’ve had some silly injuries and stuff from that but they weren’t there to witness what I went through first hand with all my injuries and all. The feeling of being injured is the worst ever, you just feel so useless, so depressed and I’ve been in that situation so many times.
There’s a lot of people there to help when your making your way towards the front but when your at your lowest point there’s not many people there to help you or talk to you so huge thanks to everyone that’s always stuck by me. I don’t need to mention any names they know who they are as they are still there every day in normal life or standing at the side of the track freezing to help me with anything and without them I probably would have thrown in the towel by now but here I am still working hard and looking for some more success.
Cailum would like to take this opportunity to thank the following: MGM Logistics, Norman Watt Motorcycles, Moto33 Suspension, Malcolm Rathmell Sport, Service Clean Master, Five1eight Fitness, UrStylePrintz, Jim McCauley, Jason McCauley, EH, CD Autos, Steve Mills, GOMX.
And most importantly my Mum and Dad because they literally put every last penny they have into us and give up basically all their time to the bikes, without them not one bit of this would be possible so them guys are the best! (Some browny points gained right there)
Pic: Nigel McKinstry