I tried something new at the weekend. I invested in some skills training, specifically, cyclocross skills training. Meeting up with Ed ‘Great Rock’ Oxley at Lee Quarry – not a typical cyclocross venue but one of the closest things around these parts to Whernside, one of the nightmares of the 3 Peaks race – we chatted and compared our cross bikes with new-fangled disc brakes and waited for the rest of the ‘pupils’ to arrive.
Joining us for the day and bringing with them their experience and expertise were Dave Haygarth and Alan Dorrington. I was looking forward to getting faster and smoother not by routine training in the usual sense but by learning smarter ways to ride a bike – around corners, over rough ground, dismounts, that sort of thing.
Quite soon we were staring at the Lee Quarry pump track, listening to Ed’s advice on how we should ride something like this on a bike that in our minds at least, was not really designed for the job. Off he went to show us what he was talking about. All the way around the pump track, working the terrain and getting all the way around without pedalling.
Off we went. After an hour or so, everyone was pumping the pump track and was flying around much smoother and faster than the first time. Progress.
Then we worked on technique for riding over rough ground. To make sure we all knew what ‘rough ground’ is, we rode over some big rocks. Some people fell off. Some more than once.
We rode some of the red trail a few times, each time applying skills and techniques we’d just learned, each time getting faster, staying off the brakes a bit more…
This stuff works much better than any bike upgrade.
Then we went for our dinner in a big greenhouse with a kitchen in it…which was nice. There was also loads of cakes.
The afternoon session was a bit more ‘regular’ cyclocross in a nearby park – grass, mud, barrier tape, run-ups, dismounts, that kind of thing. Dave led this session and passed on a wealth of knowledge and racing tips and we made a bit of a mess of the grass.
It was ace. There will be more of these courses and if you want to go faster on your cyclocross bike and discover where your real weaknesses are (and thus what you need to practice afterwards), you should get your name down here www.great-rock.co.uk