Friday, February 28, 2014

CXM - DS's review

As I sit here confined to quarters through injury, it struck me as good a time as any to look back on Racing Team's (CXMRT) first season. The highs and the lows.

Whilst the team was my idea, it would be fair to say that we could not have possibly functioned through 2013/14 without Ted's efforts and enthusiasm. So much so that that it was only reasonable that Ted and I now take decisions jointly around all aspects of the team's operation. Ted has supported and mentored Sarah selflessly through this season, whilst Heather and I have kept the logistics of racing week in week out on the road. The fact that Ted was involved in delivering cyclo-cross training sessions was a key factor in him coming to the team in the first place, in spring 2014 Ted's going to achieve British Cycling accredited coach status. This can only be good for us.

CXMRT was created to provide a springboard for talented U23 riders of both sexes to race cyclo-cross at a national level with some support around logistics of travel, pitting and competition. Through the generous personal contribution by Cyclocross Magazine's Andrew Yee, some input by Ted and myself, we have established a competitive presence right across the UK that will continue through 2014. We have raced in every round of the National Trophy, the North of England Championships, the Inter Area Championships and the National Championships. We have also been present at regional level having scored several wins across the CXNE and Yorkshire series and have new British University Cyclo-cross champion in our team.

As with all things, the devil is in the detail. Getting the team clothed and affiliated took us longer than hoped. We suffered some setbacks around agreeing a clothing design due to the sudden vogue for predominantly black clothing designs in the UK - presumably 'The Team Sky effect". Frustratingly, CXM had been racing in the US for years with an existing design that I naively thought we could just register over here. It wasn't to be as British Cycling wanted a more overt design and to their credit they were easy enough to work with on this. A fiercely contested competition was run via the cowbell forums to come up with a design, and the winner's design by Anne Racioppi is in our totally objective eyes flattering, distinctive and incredibly classy!

Our two riders, Ed and Sarah have flown the flag with some considerable success in 2013/14. It should be noted that these two have made their achievements whilst busy with academic study at high level.  Ed during fever pitch study for his A levels and Sarah at a crucial part of her medicine degree and training to be a doctor.

Ed was second U/23 at the Three Peaks which given the number of participants and nature of the event must only bide well for his future. The only sadness for us was that due to the delay on the clothing, this achievement was made in the colours of the now defunct Boneshakers Team. Maybe he'll go one better in orange and black next year. Later in the season he achieved wins in senior races at regional level, remarkable given that it was his first season as a senior.

2013 was very much Sarah's first 'proper' year. When Ted suggested taking Sarah, we didn't know much about her other that she'd made a big impact in the comparatively small number of races she'd done in the first season. BOOM, she delivered beyond our wildest dreams with being on a completely different level to the other women in the North East. She was consistently top ten in National Trophy races and ended up ranked in the top ten nationally. She is mixing it week in, week out with the very best national level riders and given the typically non linear nature of progression in cycle sport, I get the sneaky feeling that one day she'll suddenly ride away in a National Trophy.

Ted, our rider-manager just got better and better as the year went on. Us old guys are supposed to go slower and slower.....but that's not the way it was for Ted. After a race at Milton Keynes that we all thought was solid....but Ted was disappointed with, he never looked back and just got faster, fitter and technically better each race. Unbeknown to us, Ted was really revved up for the National Champs and he delivered a great race with spectators remarking how well he'd ridden in the mudbath that was Derby.

Looking back, I now know where we can make improvements to the way we race. In particular, we need to improve our logistics and preparation. We need to arrive earlier, work on our warm up and course pre rides. We also need to make our pit arrangements more resilient and find ways for Ted and I to better support our riders in subsequent races, whilst looking after our own basic needs post race (food-warmth etc).

We have achieved great exposure for Cyclocross Magazine with the our friend Matt Payne never missing an opportunity to mention us when announcing at major national events.

My final thoughts and thanks should go to some of the friends of the team who've helped us race. Heather, my girlfriend has been nothing short of an angel, driving us to events through the night and then doing a full day in the pits. Our friends Ian Caswell, Dave and Sally Morris, Scott Fraser, Tim Evans and my son Callum have all done hard service in the pits and spent Sunday evening's removing mud from places it shouldn't be....

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