Brighton Excelsior and VC Jubilee kick off each regional cyclocross [CX] season with a racing programme at Stanmer Park. Once again it was a huge success in 2016. This comes at a time when cyclocross participation is at an all time high in the club and our Tuesday night sessions at Water Hall Rugby Club are going from strength to strength.
We asked some of our riders about the Stanmer event and CX in general. We had contributions from Lawrence Coyle, Steve Kane, Connor Murphy, Jez Parsons and Tony Salmon. Many thanks to Rob Paynter for sharing the pictures – there are more in our CX Gallery.
What did you like about the Stanmer park CX event and how did you get on?
I loved the dry dusty conditions and the tight technical sections you could really push hard in, the weather too on the day was a touch. I got on alright, expected to get lapped which happened in the second half but had a steady race and was glad it was a full hour with no mechanicals after doing no racing for a year. Afterwards I felt pleasantly exhausted, keen to do my next event which will be Happy Valley which of course I will be getting mud specific tyres for.
Really well organised and a good course with some technical sections in the woods. A brutal climb that you get to do multiple times and some grass track to stretch the gaps out.
It was a really good, well organised event and many people from the club helped out either on the day or before. The course was really fun to ride.
Connor (on Facebook)
Thanks to everyone who helped, supported and raced at the CX today, it was a great start to the season!!
Stanmer, the first race of the season, was great. It had a good mix of fast single track and a gruelling climb to test the Summer season legs. It is always very well attended and this year was no exception, the catering was great and it was nice to see the club doing the food as most other events get a caterer in, the race was hard but i managed a third in Vet 50 and felt pretty good afterwards; probably in the glow of my result...
What do you feel you get out of the training sessions at Water Hall and what's Ben like as a coach?
The training sessions are really good because interval training is hard to do on your own, plus, the skills we learn and practise have helped me no end in my racing, Ben is very good at getting the whole group involved even though the age range is 9 to 50+. You can go as hard or as easy as you want so it is good for all abilities, he stands there in the pouring rain and freezing cold teaching us every week and does not get enough praise for his efforts; they show in the results the club are getting in the CX races though.
The training is a really good way of keeping fit over the Winter. Put it together with turbo training and you could be fitter in the Winter than you are in the Summer. I focus on the CX series and try to use the Summer Time Trial series and Track Racing to get me ready for the Winter.
They’re really good! All the coaches, and especially Ben, put so much time and effort into them and they have definitely helped me to progress as a rider. The cyclo-cross sessions are fun and there is a great atmosphere within the group.
Skills, intense fitness sessions, bike handling and corner practice, group riding and a good time to play on the CX bike without any cars to worry about. Ben is very good and clearly enjoys putting everyone through pain! A good mix of technical, fitness and endurance work.
Do you have a dedicated CX bike and do you love it?
I have a road, MTB and dedicated cross bike. It does the job perfectly well, it's a Trek X0 frame with my own build including single chainring and front disc and bar end shifter. It's not the lightest bike but I like to ride it on The Downs and sometimes commute with it so reliability is more important than lightweight kit.
I have two CX bikes, a full race bike on tubular tyres with no water bottle cages and a Kinesis Pro 6 CX bike as a spare race, commuter off road racer. I’ve ridden the Pro 6 the full length of the South Downs Way in in 8 hours 15 mins, it was great fun!
I have a cyclo cross club bike. I definitely don't love it but it does an okay job, especially considering we get lent them!
Yes and yes, see the pictures who wouldn’t?!
What are your cycling ambitions in CX and other disciplines?
My CX ambition is to get in the top 5 this year in the Vet 50 cat (I really want a podium but need a bit more fitness). I would like to do a few road races just to see if I could keep with the pack plus do some more MTB races and long off road CX races.
Ambitions are to get back to a level where I'm not lapped! However, mainly to use this a spring-board to racing MTB events. I want to compete in MTB races in the Summer like the Gorricks I used to enjoy when a student. I'd like to build from shorter races, then longer endurance events, maybe even some 6 hour or longer solo events.
To get a top grade in my sports A Level, I need to be competing at national level and so that's my ambition over the next few years and then well see how it goes.
To win an event, 6th is the best so far.
CX and why you should try it – by Jez
There are many reasons to give cyclocross a try, it is a great way to keep your fitness through the long Winter months, it gets you out on those wet days where the road bike ride is too cold and wet and a MTB ride is too slow and muddy. There is something special about a group of like minded people lining up in the rain to race flat out for 45 mins and all having a laugh at the same time. I say its the best fun you can have with your clothes on! The racing is as hard and fast as you want it to be, there are so many little races going on within the main race when you do it on a regular basis you tend to be racing the same small group and soon get to know them and this gives you the impetus to try and beat them in the next race!
On 31st July, 11 riders represented Brighton Excelsior in the country’s highest profile sportive. We helped a few to gain club entries and attracted excellent charity deals for some of the others. Normally a blog about 100 mile bike ride would feature the highs and lows of people’s training stories but we’re cyclists so there is none of that, although 4 of the 11 did the BECC Night Ride and 2 attempted the ESCA 100 mile TT in the previous weeks. Here is what 3 of our riders had to say about the event.
The Build Up
I'd like to thank the Club and The HTF Charity for giving me the opportunity to ride the Pru100. I completed the 160km in 5hours 5mins. This included 2 stops. Anyone who’s ridden Sunday Club Rides with me will be amazed that this only included 1 wee stop! (The other being to refill water bottles). My preparation involved spending the day as a tourist walking around the sites of London and having minimal sleep, up at 4.30am and having the fire alarm go off twice in the overnight accommodation.
I managed to enter via the ballot but I raised £150 for Alzheimers anyway. Driving up the day before it was apparent that cyclists had occupied the town. Every time I entered the hotel lift there was a carbon bike in it. For long rides I never know whether to fuel up the night before, on the morning or during the ride - so I did all 3. My sleep was apocalyptically bad, partly due to nerves and also to the boy racers thrashing around the empty streets. Just as I was telling myself to try for 2 more hours the alarm went off. The hotel laid on a cyclist’s breakfast after which I followed the bleary eyed hordes to the Olympic Park, you can’t get lost. I managed to complete the course with just 2 bottles and no stops, except 10 minutes or so for the crashes, heart attacks etc.
This was my second Ride London, though last year I rode it at a very leisurely pace as I turned it into a double century by riding to and from the event. So this year I was geared up to ride it at a brisker pace. Unfortunately, I was also working at the Ride London Expo on Friday and Saturday, so two days on my feet was the not the best preparation for a fast 100.
There are six colour coded start streams on 2 sides of the park. On arrival you can leave a bag to be collected at the finish and there are plenty of toilets too. Everyone has to enter holding pens with the faster riders generally having the earlier slots. It's never boiling hot before 6am. 2016 was a warm year but it's worth being prepared. You queue up to be released in batches and as you get closer to the Copper Box arena you hear the celebrities being interviewed at the start. Finally the MC asks the group to nominate a song to roll out to and the DJ does his best to oblige.
Once away from the start alongside the Velodrome at the Queen Elizabeth park, the wide roads into London were fast and I covered the first 68km in 2 hours. Grab a wheel, jump to the next train - it keeps you ticking along at a good speed, you don't want to stop.
My legs felt a little tired on Sunday morning so I rode with a couple of my work colleagues for the first 10 miles. Shortly after that I found a nice fast train to latch onto and so my pace soon increased. This was to be my tactic for the rest of the morning and I ensured I was always in a group for the flat sections and did my turn when required. On two occasions I had to drop out of the group I was in due to some inexperienced riders moving off their lines without looking and I was concerned that I was going to be brought down. But I managed to get around the course without incident and was also fortunate to only witness a couple of minor spills.
It’s a long wait at The Olympic Park but very well organised. The amazing thing about the speed right from the start was that it was everybody and it was sustained. Although the traditional 5 hour target was on my mind I was just out to enjoy myself so instead of jumping on every chain I spent a lot of time enjoying the space on the “wrong” side of the road. The speed of the other riders still drove me onwards. I thought I might run out of energy at some point but apart from a slight lull early on in Richmond Park I think I got stronger if anything.
The course takes a 6 mile southern detour so that the peloton can swing back round and climb Leith Hill before rolling on towards Box Hill. There is another drag a bit earlier on and a couple of sharper rises later on around Wimbledon. For South Downs cyclists there's nothing to worry about.
I didn't expect to be able to hold an average of 20 miles an hour for 5 hours but I did and now I'm hoping to ride next year and beat that time. The climbing is in the middle part of the ride from about 70km, gently up to Leith Hill and along to Box Hill at about 115km in. To be honest the climbs aren't difficult. The hardest part is negotiating slower riders on the right hand side of the road, they’re supposed to stick to the left, one rider caused me to stop as I was about to pass him on the climb up Leith.
I knew the hills were easy enough from riding them before. I was worried about being brought to a standstill on the climb and dangerous cyclists on the descent. I found that, although slower riders held me up on the ascent, the whole group was doing pretty well. So, although I could have gone quicker on Leith and Box Hill, I was surprised to find I had PBs for both. There was dangerous, selfish cycling to be seen on the downhills, Alan saw someone doing a full "Froome" top tube descent through the crowd. I stayed to the left out of harm’s way. Out on a descent on the A25 after Leith there was a 5 minute hold up for a horrible looking crash.
The final 10 miles, when I got past the last stoppage, were great. (My 10 minutes of standing time were annoying but you can see from Scott’s intervals that he came off way worse. I hope that the injured parties who were the cause of the delays are recovered now.) I blasted along the Embankment and picked off a rider I’d targeted on The Mall. I felt like a real cyclist having that much left at the end and think I could have sustained it for the last 25 if I’d had a clear run. My 5:11 could have been very close to 5 hours on the day without the stops and that's the hook; it’s almost inevitable that I’ll have another go. I wouldn't want to ride it in the wet though.
Heading back towards London, Leatherhead was a fast section. My legs (and backside) were starting to feel it as I came along the Embankment alongside the Thames. “Stop looking at the Garmin, keep going, nearly there!” It was a great feeling and sense of achievement when I finally crossed the line. I thought I was struggling in the last hour but it seems I did equal speed to the 2nd hour. The Club Night Ride was a great warm up to the event, having ridden further and in the saddle for a longer time, although a much slower ride. Bring it on 2017!
I was aiming for under 5:30, so I was very pleased with my 4:52. Would I do it again next year? I’m not sure. Whilst it’s wonderful to ride on closed roads, they aren’t the type of roads I would usually choose to ride on. And whilst the danger of being knocked off by a car is removed, the likelihood of being bought down by a rider with no experience of riding in a bunch seems to be high.
Highlights for me were riding on the closed roads of London, passing The Tower of London, Hampton Court, Richmond Park, Westminster and coming through Admiralty Arch onto the packed Mall with the finish line and Buckingham Palace in front of me. Plus, I can't say this too often: I overtook Mark Webber!
My favourite thing this year was seeing the chap on the Boris Bike 30 miles in. Also the camaraderie with the other riders after the event. There were plenty of riders to chat to and share stories on the train home.
I loved the whole closed road experience and the Blackwall Tunnel right near the start was a brilliant, surreal moment. There’s a phase early on where you race past several world famous sites one after the other which is brilliant and it makes a change to have the public cheering instead of swearing at you. I was worried I’d never find my Docklands hotel afterwards but I went in a pretty straight line after bumping into Paul 200m from my London office. (Even better that Richard made such a Horlicks of getting back to his!) I chatted with loads of other riders on the way back out there, it’s an uplifting, shared experience.
We are always happy to (re-)recruit long-distance members. Here's a recent chat with Gary Johnston, now living in Northern Scotland:
I was a member of the club in the 80's, joining when I was 15 - and remember well attending club nights at a social club (I think along by Shoreham power station), taking part in 10 mile TT's from Falmer to Lewes and back [that's right; the A27 was the '10' course! - Bob] and the odd 25 TT and Sunday Club runs as well.
At that time on club nights from Shoreham I remember some winter runs along the seafront in dark grim conditions under instruction from Roy (pretty sure that was his first name) Whitehead - whose son Martin was at school with me in the year above. Coming from Woodingdean I would also ride through to the Preston Park track on a Saturday morning and try out on my road bike with the club specialists. I remember Martin Penfold [Martin is still one of our club members – Bob] there and also seeing him take part in a Criterium race with the 'Big Boys' British Pros around Brighton Pavilion circuit in the days of the Milk Race.
I have enjoyed reading the website and club history and thinking back to my days of saving pocket money and paper round wages to buy various accessories and clothing from the cycle shops you mention in a bid to make me go faster.
I was also at college with Nick Burley - who I think was a member of various clubs - but worked at M&J Cycles [the shop was in Beaconsfield Road, then later in Preston Road Brighton; it closed in the late 90's], and even helped him with a project building a recumbent cycle for our A level design exams.
I now live in the Scottish Highlands just north of Inverness and have continued to cycle for fitness and fun - I still have my original Raleigh Rapide 531 tubing Campagnolo 980 equipped bike that I first bought and prompted me to joining your club some 30 years ago.
Visiting Brighton a few weeks ago and passing Preston Park track reminded me of those times. A subsequent call to Rayment Cycles (my old regular shop ), in search of a Brighton Excelsior club shirt, where the staff kindly recommended the club site to order one. I am gutted I can't find my old original club 'wooley' shirt from the 80's; however I do still have a TI Raleigh and a Panasonic Raleigh team shirt from that era which I still endeavour to squeeze into every now and then.
[Gary has now joined the Club again as a 'Lives Away' member, and will sport his Brighton Excelsior colours in Inverness and points North!]
Our youth riders are ripping up the road.
Brighton Excelsior CC had 2 riders in the iconic 2015 Paris Brest Paris audax, an event that requires superhuman effort to reach the start line, let alone the finish.
Rule 33 [see below] tells us to shave our guns AKA legs, but why?
This RCUK blog, shared by Bob, tells you the 5 things you need to know: 5 Reasons Why
"Legs are to be carefully shaved at all times. If, for some reason, your legs are to be left hairy, make sure you can dish out plenty of hurt to shaved riders, or be considered a hippie douche on your way to a Critical Mass."
When road riders attain the status of "elite sprinter" even their names starts to sound exotic and glamorous: Cavendish, Petacchi, Cipollini...
Life imitates art...well...The Simpsons. Not recommended for the Club Run
Click on Homer to see the video.
In both the Advanced and Intermediate Training Plans, 10-mile Time Trials are prescribed as key training sessions. The main reason for this is that they are an ideal way to get an extended interval at, or above your threshold, with the added motivation of wearing a race number.
Look at this robot cyclist go. Next challenge: cleats!
Click the image to see the video.