Photos: Cheryl King
There are times to shut up and listen. Times when, no matter how much you think you know in a given field of expertise, it is advisable to keep schtum and take in the proffered advice.
Standing in the rather lovely grounds of Broughton Hall, North Yorkshire, it occurred to me that in all my years of racing cyclocross, nobody had previously explained so succinctly what makes a good ‘cross rider; what separates the front runners from the back markers.
The man doing such a fine job of defining the finer points of ‘cross racing was Paul Oldham – former national champion and no slouch in the mud. He admitted never having led a skills session before, but you’d never have guessed. All present, from absolute beginners to gnarled old timers like myself, learned a lot.
But here was the bit that got me. You know that feeling of being as strong as the rider in front, sitting comfortably on the wheel, all hunky dory? A sharp corner is negotiated and you are suddenly a few yards adrift. No problem you think; sprint back on.
Then it’s a set of planks. The chap in front is smooth as you like, back on the bike in an instant, and away again. Sprint back on, no problem.
Then it’s a steep bank. He has shouldered the bike and hit his stride before you have even swung your leg over. Each time this happens, you are a second down: no big deal, you think, just sprint back on.
- One x set of planks = one second
- Two x dismounts = two seconds
- Ten x sharp corners = ten seconds
- Multiply x nine laps
You do the maths… Then practice your skills. It makes all the difference.
SUPER CROSS 2012: 20th October / 27th October / 28th October
The groundbreaking Rapha Super Cross Series returns, bringing three days of super-charged cyclocross racing to venues around the UK.
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Film by Pete Drinkell