Friday, 10 October 2014

Getting Ready for the National Trophy Series

The National Trophy Series is a season long set of 6 cyclocross races around the UK that starts in October and finishes in January.  The top racers from around Britain and occasional some up and coming Euro-crosser are attracted due to it's UCI ranking of C2, which means there are some reasonable points available in the elite races.  As supporting events there are races for veterans and youths.

This weekend see the series opener in Shrewsbury.  Always a good event due to the great organisation from Dave Mellor and his team at Sundorne Leisure Centre, where a fast and technical course is always offered up.

Personal organisation and preparation for the serious cyclocross racer is a little different from the usual athlete.  There is more kit and klobber to think about to make sure that every eventuality is catered for.  The weather conditions and terrain are key adversaries that can if not given the appropriate respect will cause more impact than a lack of fitness.

Time must be given for riding the course to familiarise the best lines at the start, but also an eye must be kept on how they may change throughout the race.  Assessing the ground conidtions with a view of how the weather may will determine the tyre tread pattern required, and the terrain will need to be considered when setting the tyre pressures so that the best traction throughout the course can be achieved without flatting at the wrong moment.  

Choosing the right clothing to make sure that the racer doesn't suffer in the cold or overheat if the sun does come through.  Making sure that if there is rain then clothing doesn't soak up the water becoming heavy and sodden.

What this boils down to is an approach that is 'never leave anything behind'.  Take everything and the kitchen sink, as you'll only be kicking yourself later if you leave something behind.  This is generally determined by what vehicle you have available, if any, to get to the race and whether you are sharing it with anyone.  If you watch any of the Euro TV channels that cover the big 'cross races then you'll have seen that all the top racers have their own motorhomes or the use of a team one that will allow them to have all their kit taken to the races and have space to change in the warm and dry. 

The first few 'cross races for me are usually used to back into the swing of things and make sure I have all my stuff sorted.  This is even more relevant this year as I'm now a sponsored rider for Cult Racing who have provided me with a great lightweight race bike, 2 sets of spare wheels, race kit and mechanical/maintenance backup.  So I need to make sure I can play the part even if the fitness/health is a bit dodgy at the moment.

WMCCL Round 4 2014