My cycling antics may be fun to me and a few others, but they're not exactly headline grabbing. However, I have somehow made it onto a cycle news website - London Cyclesport. It mainly concerns cycle sport in London and the South East, but it covers cycling topics from further afield since people race in other regions and abroad too. Of course, it's also updated quicker than the cycling magazines. As a result, the readership of the site spans nationwide.
So, I was quite surprised about being asked for an interview about my cycling. "Why not ?" (I chuckled). Now that I've gotten over the initial embarrassment of seeing my mug on the front page, I actually feel quite pleased and glad that I've been portrayed in a good light.
Anyway, see below for the article. It's about cyclo cross, and as mentioned in it - Have a go ! There's about 6 weeks left before the season ends so make the most of it.
Oh, and thanks to John Mullineaux for suggesting this !
Interview: Maria David - 11/12/08
Maria David is a regular competitor on the cycling circuit taking part in road and cyclo cross. On behalf of LondonCycleSport.com Maria has been interviewing a number of women racers for a series of features soon, and we thought it approriate that she should be first to be put in the interview saddle. Maria is currently taking part in the Mosquito Bike London Cyclo Cross League.
How long have you been racing cyclo cross?
Properly racing since 2006, though I muddled my way through a season in 2003!
What made you decide to get into it?
A few people told me how much fun it was and that it’s a great way to keep fit during the winter. Mark Wyer (who now coaches in the Eastern League) ran a series of training sessions at Eastway, and I was immediately sold on the idea.
What do you like about cyclo cross?
It’s such fun. Doing it brightens up gloomy winter days. It’s sociable and a good family sport. Even though it’s a race I don’t get anywhere near as nervous as I do before other types of bike racing. It’s also an excuse to fling your bike around, get all muddy and no one’s gonna shout at you saying "What have you been playing at? Look at the mess you’ve made!"
How did you find your first ever cyclo cross race?
I was so nervous and scared of everything – the course, my bike, myself. I waddled around the course slower than my grandmother!
How has your season been so far?
It’s been better than in previous seasons, so can’t complain. My form dips in November/December though as I lose the speed from road racing and all my training revolves around long slow rides.
What bike do you ride?
I bought a Pearson frame a couple of years ago, and put on the components from my then road bike.
What training do you do for cyclo cross?
Nothing specific. I train for road stuff and hope that cyclo cross benefits from that. Sometimes I prance around the park at South Norwood Lake practicing dismounting and re-mounting my bike.
Which is your favourite venue?
Stanmer Park. It’s got a good mixture of grass and wood trails, plus lovely speedy descents. There’s also a big hill to jazz things up. I also welcome any excuse to go to Brighton!
Do you drink during the race?
Yes – a couple of sips.
Do you ever get any of those "Horse refuses to jump" moments when you come to an obstacle during a race?
I don’t get them so much now, but when I have done so I try to remember times when I successfully rode something similar. I also pause and watch the line that more experienced riders take. Recc’ing the course well also avoids those problems.
So, with all the mud we’ve had this season what makes you keep on coming back?
Riding the London League is addictive. You want to see how well you can do against your fellow competitors over the season. Also, it’s good to catch up with the regulars and have a chin-wag. I must admit that this season’s mud has been a bit trying though.
Any tips on getting the mud out of your clothes and off your bike?
I hand wash my clothes before putting them in the washing machine. If anyone has tips for the bike they would be most welcome!
What do you do during the spring/summer?
Road racing, cyclosportives plus a bit of track at Herne Hill for training.
So how have you found moving from smooth tarmac to the bumpy rough stuff?
I am ok with it now, but initially I found it a very difficult concept. It also helps if you have a bike that doesn’t let you down much. I’ve been quite lucky in that respect.
And for you, how does cyclo cross compare with road racing?
In a cyclo cross race there’s not that same pressure to keep up with a peloton. Cyclo cross races are very much a game of 3 halves. Just because a few people burn off up the field at the start of the race, doesn’t mean it’s curtains for you. There’s a lot of unpredictability in a cyclo cross race, which makes it more exciting – both from a rider’s and a spectator’s standpoint. There’s also something more laid back about cyclo cross racing compared with road racing.
What would you say to those newbies considering having a go at cyclo cross?
Just get out whatever off-road bike you have and have a go! Everyone gets a buzz out of it regardless of how well you do.
Sum up cyclo cross in three words.
Tough but fun.
Watch out for Maria's interviews soon to be published on LondonCycleSport.com