2017 National Championships


Round 1 Derby National Trophy
By Isla Mason

I didn’t get the best of starts as I was on the back row as I was a first year in the u16 category. However the course suited me after the junior race as the juniors dried it so it was better but I was terrible on the practice laps as it was still thick mud. I think the reason I did quite well was because of my technical skill from mtb round the corners. This meant I was gaining time on the corners if they had dropped me somewhere like the hurdles which were 45cm! This meant it was incredibly difficult for me to get over them as they were so big and I was riding in a group of two other riders who were quite a bit taller than me so they dropped me on the hurdles so I caught them back up on the corners. I think my training at the club sessions helped as there were lots of slippy corners which we’d practiced numerous times at slipstreamers.

I didn’t have a great start as I started behind a second year who was not fast at starting but fortunately managed to lock back into the main group and find a small group to ride around with and use to slipstream. I gained time on the corners but mainly steadied at the back of the group so as to save my energy. This meant I stayed with the group until the last bit where one girl sprinted off the front so me and the other girl were left until the last bit where I took the corner at a slower pace as I’d fallen off here at practice so ended up a sprint finish where there was a wheels thickness between us.

Overall this was my best cx race I’ve ever done as I came third out of the first years and was happy to have stayed with a girl who drops me at the regionals. I learnt to make sure I know what line I’m taking and I’m the practice to try different lines and techniques around technical sections to find the most efficient as well as how important a good warm up is.

Round 1 Derby National Trophy
by Sulli Berry 

When I went to the first round of the HSBC cyclocross national trophy series at the motorways centre in derby we went up the day before to see what the course was like. The first lap I did was on my non grippy tyres because in previous years the course had been dry. I found out very quickly that my tyres weren’t grippy enough so I went and found my dad and we changed my wheels so I had grippyer tyres on so on the next lap I didn’t slip over so much. On the next lap I stayed at the technical sections like the planks and the steps and practiced them. There was a sand pit but that was quite easy because it was compacted down. On one of my first try’s of the hurdles I tripped over them as I was running over them. I didn’t hurt my self at all because it was quite a soft landing. The steps were really awkward because they had clearly been designed for adults and were too long to do 3 in a normal length stride and were too short to do 2 at a time so I ended up doing 3 at a time. After that I kept doing whips off the bridge because it was fun. Then we went home.

The next day I woke up at about 6:30 and we left at around 6:45 I had my breakfast of shreddies on the way because my race was at 12:06 and if I ate them in the early I wouldn’t have had enough energy also on the way there I got my helmet shoes gloves and glasses on. When we got there we parked up and I got my spare bike out of the van and went to speak to a couple of my friends after that I put my bike back in the van and took our pressure and water out of the boot I then tried to take the two full aqua rolls on my own and it didn’t work at all so I switched with my dad who was taking the pressure washer because he is better at taking two aqua rolls then I am so he took them and I took the pressure washer. When we got into the tarmac section I stopped to talk to one of my friends and then had to run with the pressure washer to keep up with my dad. We then set up our pressure washer in the pits and started it and sprayed the grass to make sure it was working properly. We then walked back and I went and got my bike and I was supposed to get my dads wallet as well although I forgot got to. After that I went and changed my shoes and then had to go back to the van again to get my dads wallet.

After a small while the course was finally open for practice and it was at least 2 times as muddy as the night before I did a lap and then waited for 2 of my friends and then went for another lap. After that it was the junior men’s race and the course was so slippery for them they had to get of and run a few sections. I then went back to the van and ate a cheese sandwich and an apple then I went and watched the girls race that had just started. During the girls race I ate my banana and cereal bar and had a drink. After that I started my warm up. I then waited at the back with everyone else while the called the u16 through I then made my way to get gridded I got gridded 19th so I was on the 3rd row which was good.

My start went well, acording to my dad I was in 9th by the end of the start straight. Although I did quite well in the start the first row was mostly gone by the time I got started. the sand pit had got rotaveted before my race so the compacted lines that had been there in practice had disappeared. The bridge had gotten really slippery so when I was on it my wheels were spinning a lot and on the second lap I was in between two groups completely on my own going into the wind . The final corner had also got really slippery and there were a few crashes in the previous races. At the end I was in a sprint for 10th place and I lost however I got 11th and gained 8 places on my gridding position of 19th so I was happy about that also I got top15 which was one of my goals.

Round 2 Abergavenny 2017
by Isla Mason

The course was quite technical. This meant that it was difficult to get the right line around the corners. The mud was really slippy although this dried up quite a bit by the next practice it meant it was really difficult to decide on the right tyre choice. Eventually I chose a combination of a dirt tyre on the back and a dry tyre on the front this meant on the slippy corners I could grip nicely whilst at on the long straights I didn’t get as much resistance and go faster.

I hated the course it wasn’t as bad as Bradford last night but I didn’t like the sharp slippy corners and the long grass and tarmac straights. However I used my friend Grace in the practice as her dad was an ex-pro racer so he was able to give us some good lines and tips for on a few of the more technical parts of the course for example the sharp corners.
For the start I was gridded behind the race leader which I was pleased with to begin with but when the race started I realised that she must make her time up during the race as her start was terrible so I ended up around just behind halfway of the field of 35 riders. I rode the start around 4th in a long group but the girl in front of me attacked around the rest of the group so I followed them dropped her I then saw a small group of four riders in front of me so worked hard to catch up with them.

I rode around with the group tailing on the back for around half a lap but then we got to the grass straight where I felt really strong so moved up to second in the group. Then we came to another straight and I still felt strong so picked up my pace and led the group for not long when I felt I could go even faster so sped up again I saw a rider not too far in front of me and as I was in my own I decided to try and catch her up after chasing her for a lap I began to get a sharp stitch in my side so let off the pace a bit and began to recover my strength a bit ready for the last lap. I kept seeing Charlotte not too far behind me so kept the pace just enough to recover but too keep Charlotte off as well. On the final of 4 laps I’d ridden on my own for around 2 laps and was getting really tired at this point I knew after my slow lap there was no chance of me catching the group ahead but Charlotte had gained quite a bit of time on me from last lap so I knew no matter how tired I was I needed to really push hard if I wanted to maintain a gap between me and Charlotte so began to pick the pace up and really dig deep. I leant into the corners trying to gain as much time as possible and managed to maintain the gap all the way to the finish where I came 7th which annoyingly was 1 place off money and I was happy to come 2nd out of the first years as the other first year won!

I was so exhausted at the end that as soon as I freewheeled I could feel my legs stiffen up so instead of lying sprawled on the floor like numerous of the other girls finishing I simply rode slowly in circles around the area near the course for around 5 – 10 minutes as I drank my recovery drink.

Round 2 Abergavenny 2017
by Sulli Berry


When I went to the second round of the HSBC UK national trophy cyclocross at Abergavenny my race was in In The afternoon at 4:00 which was very late and an unusual time for a cx race. Nether the less we still left the house at 7:30 to get there for 9 when we could practice the upper half of the course before the welsh league races so I did my first lap of the upper course and found it was very technical and quite slippery. I then went and did 3 more laps to perfect my line and then as there were u12 Welsh league races in the morning i went to watch my cousins Ryan and Beany who had come up to race and support me Isla and Tom.

After that it was the adult Welsh league races so we couldn’t practice any of the course because the adults race on almost the full national course so as it was lunch time I went and ate my soup and then sat outside my van until about 12:50 when I got my licence and went to sign on because at the nationals your category has an allotted time when you can go and sign in to make sure there aren’t massive queues but as there can be up to 160 people in our race the queues will still be massive so I went really early with a couple of my friends to sign on and as we got there early we were 3rd in the queue but we still had to wait 25 minutes even though they opened sign on early. After that I had to go back to the van to get safety pins because at the nationals you get a paper number for your back and a small one for your arm, they do not give you safety pins so you have to bring your own also you get given a pit pass at the nationals so if you have someone in the pits you have to give them that otherwise they’ll get kicked out the pits. After you had signed on we were allowed to practice the entire course including the planks which were closely followed by a steep bank onto tarmac and back down again and then back up so it was a very technical course.

After the practice it was the girls race with Isla in it. I wanted to watch the start to see which side it was best to be on and I concluded that it didn’t really matter which side it was more who you got behind and whether or not they got a good start. Next it was my race and I started to warm up on my rollers but it turned out they were too short for my cross bike so I resorted to riding up and down the closed road like most other people. I was first on the second row of the grid so I got behind Griff who won at derby I had an ok start but got over taken when I thought we were going down a bank that was on the course that wasn’t on the start loop because no one told us where we were going on the start loop. After that there was a steep bank with a u turn at the bottom so you turned around and went back up the bank again but I fell off at the bottom and lost about 10 places I worked my way up into 12th place but it was quite a tight course with limited chances to pass I was 1 place behind derby which I was a bit disappointed with but it was ok.

Round 2 Abergavenny 2017
by Tom Porton


On Saturday the 28th October 2017 my family and I went to Abergavenny for me to take part in the Under 14 category of the Cyclocross National Trophy and to watch the other RRPCC riders race.

The day started with packing of the car and the hurried last-minute checks of the kit before it went in. Then we began the hour and a half journey to Abergavenny. When we arrived at the car park it was nearly full, but we managed to get a space near the entrance to the race course. We headed up to the course to watch Ryan Oldfield take part in his race.
At around quarter past one me and my mum headed up to sign on to collect my race number and chip, it turns out we got there fifteen minutes early, but we were allowed to sign on anyway because there was a growing queue forming on the stairs outside. I checked to see where I was gridded and checked my number, I was gridded 44th and numbered 115. I signed in and collected my chip, numbers and wristband (the wristband was for my mum to be able to pit for me and I had a mini number to put on my shoulder) and headed back outside to find my dad, who had my bike, and my brother. When we found them, we put my numbers and chip on and sorted out what was going to happen on the start line, what final snack I was going to have and what drink, and I headed up to the course entrance to get ready for warm up.

After I had done three warm up laps so that I was familiar with the course, I wrapped up warm, took on my last bit of food and waited to be called over for gridding. When I went over to the start line for gridding I was early so I rode up and down the closed road practicing my starts and staying warm for a bit and then got ready to be gridded. When I was gridded, I was in the second to last row and had a lot of ground to make up. When we finally started after about 3 minutes of waiting since being gridded it was a mad dash and someone swerved 2 rows in front of me causing a jam and then we got going again, but with even more ground to make up now.

We were all pretty bunched up when I got to the first really technical section of the course so there was a lot of braking and a lot of accelerating out of corners to make up the ground that I lost on the corner because of a bad line or the rider in front sliding out.
When I got through the technical section I was in one piece and at the front of my group of 4, but when we hit the tarmacked section of the course I managed to get a gap on the rest of my group and I closed the gap to the rider in front of me. I followed him around some fast, but slippery corners and managed to hold his wheel when he attacked on the flat section in the headwind. I lost his wheel on a short but very sharp climb coming off of the flat section and then he was gone and I didn’t see him again.

The hurdles were 40cm – much higher than I am used to and there was a steep climb just after them so we had to run that climb. There were also a series of narrow hairpin bends which had to be taken slowly to avoid sliding out in the mud.

On the last lap, 2 riders from the group I had attacked about half a lap before on the tarmac caught up to me again. I managed to hold their wheel for about half a lap, but then an unfortunate incident with a paper plate getting caught in my chain and having to slow down to get it out caused me to get dropped coming into the technical section. I made some time on the group in the technical section, but not enough to get me back in the group and I managed to hold off one other rider in the sprint to finish 34th in my first ever national cyclocross race.

I really enjoyed the day and I’m looking forward to Round 3 in Shrewsbury in 2 weeks time.