I get 'cross

My journal of cyclocross
Follow Me
Robinson leading the 2012 National Trophy Series
There is a curious thing in cyclocross or maybe its womens cyclocross is that pretty much if I wanted to race against the best people in the world, I could.
Not because I'm at their level, just because that is the way it works.

Most recently I've been pulling up to the start line and standing alongside Louise Robinson (Ian Cleverly has written a post on the Rapha site about her domination of Three Peaks).

Domestically this year, aged 46, she has been matching the other twenty somethings toe-to-toe. Twelve years  ago Louise Robinson took the silver medal at the World Cyclocross Championship in Sint Michielsgestel loosing out on the rainbow bands by a not so shabby 57 seconds to Hanka Kupfernagel.

Looking down some weird text only list based website built in 1998, I picked out that she managed four podiums in World Cup CX races in 2000/2001, Zolder, Oostmalle etc
She was 3rd in the Gloucester GP in the US in 2004 too.

I don't know what CX was like in 1995-2006 as I didn't do it, I played football but I think it was probably pretty niche with little support from BC.
Today there is much more coverage, it is more popular in Britiain though it seems there is still little support for womens CX from BC.
But to this day (though hopefully the form of Harris and Wyman look like it will change history) no other British CX female rider has climbed onto a World Championship podium. Louise Robinson is pretty unique and me and Delia get to line up against her formidable skill and fitness.

We often discuss Ms. Robinson, we've turned her into some sort of superhero and placed her on a pedestal. This is because we have little information, googling doesn't really turn up much, she's an enigma to us, to which we only have her results to relate to.

Our questions to each other on email, via text and at races are below:

Claire via email 15 Oct "Robinson is a hero. I like how she doesn't even bother warming up. She just turns up and does her thing.  Sidepoint - I need to practise my starts."

Delia via email 22 Oct "How do you think Louise Robinson got that dark tooth?"
Claire via email "Probably did it in a race and then carried on and won it."

Delia via email 17 "I read the race quote from Louise Robinson after the race and she said she just entered on a whim and she hadn't ridden her bike for two weeks. She's a machine."

Delia at Koppenberg CX race 31st 1 Nov "You know at the peaks, I had Mark and my dad and a car to go to all the support points. I saw that Isla Rowntree had fashioned this wheel support thing to her bike, she was just riding that around all the mountains to be the pit crew for Louise Robinson. Them two are nails. No wonder she won."

Delia via tx 3 Nov - 16:54 "Louise Robinson is on twitter! Get her followed. She came 8th"
Claire replied "I know! LR was 2mins off Wymans and 4mins ahead of GB youngsters. Yeh I found her on twitter, got some good chat."

Delia via tx 4 Nov  "I bet Louise Robinsons lungs are the size of chip pans. In fact, I bet she has fish and chips for her tea after the Euros."
Claire via tx 4 Nov "I reckon Robinson will smash us all up tomorrow, the Euros were just a warm up."

Delia 5 Nov via tx 5 Nov "Who'd win in a fight between Louise Robinson and beryl burton?"
Claire replied "Louise would win, burton would wimp out and time trial her way to safety in scotland."

Delia 18th Nov at race "Spoke to Louise Robinson on the startline today. Said well done for the Euros, she said thanks."

Delia at CX race "your bike is pretty light."
Claire at CX race "yeh but I don't think it has an effect. Look at Louise Robinsons bike. I think it made of 853 steel."
Delia at CX race "yeh she probably made it herself."
Claire at CX race "she probably has 8 speed. And she still wins."

Claire at the last CX Trophy "I have switched to bananas for breakfast, porridge is a bit to much to digest for the 11am race."
Delia at last CX Trophy "yeah, I had to get up super early to get Kev here for the race. So I had time. I wondered what Louise Robinson has?"
Claire at the last CX race "probably none of the chemical crap with electrolytes, probably a bacon sandwich."

Claire via tx 30 Nov "Gonna do a blog posts about all the discussions we have about Louise Robinson, like how she would win in a fight against a shark etc. I looked up her results in 2000/2001, she was the original CX kid. I hope she doesn't come and punch me for doing the internet about her."

I don't really know how to compare it. But I guess it is like lining up alongside David Miller who went to the Olympics and all that and still wins races to this day.

I just want to say that if you get the chance try and race in the Eastern League if you are a vet or female rider.
1. They always always have a good cake stall
2. They always get the results printed and on the board within the hour of the finish
3. Friendly
4. Gridding is accurate and based on past performance
5. Vet and women riders get their own race so there isn't a mass bundle
6. This is me after I managed to win an Eastern League - you can see I'm having fun.

Credit: Cyclephotos.co.uk
A mystical land of grey skies and mud, wind and rain  lies just across the channel, its a place that earned the reputation as the heart land of cross. General gossiping about this place brings up whispers of how incredibly hard it must be, the courses are totally different from the UK and the people who race on them are warriors.

I'd hear stories like 'See her, yeh, she's been racing in Belgian' there would a sharp intake of breath and we'd all know to what out for her in the following 60 minutes.

I've always wanted to race there. Seems like just an achievement to make it there. For two seasons I've said it but just never had the spare weekend to do it.
Then when the the days seemed to align and ViCiOUS team can help in the pit, Delia and I choose the one race that it literally the hardest most technical course in the calendar. It would probably be ok if that course was in Britain, but there were loads of other obstacles to overcome ontop of the technical course. Like we don't know what we are doing (how sign on works, pits, toilets, getting changed, timings), can't speak a word of flemmish and are racing against the foreign.
There is also the fact that as soon as people found out I was riding it, they mentioned the hill "oh its got a massive hill on it, big cobbled climb." So before you start there is apprehension.

Credit: Gerard 'Ned' Brown

In the end the foreigns weren't the problem the British invaded and took the top two spots on the podium.Good work Harris and Wyman
What a massive learning curve for me, Delia and the VV pit crew. 

1. Don't watch Skyfall until midnight at the IMAX when you have to get up the next day at 4am
2. Ride the course before. We went into that race only knowing the first turn was going to be left.
It isn't our fault the channel tunnel got delayed. We also ran the wrong pressures. We should have been on 1.5 bar not 2.5 bar so we went flying and skidding all over the place.
3. That cobbled climb is the easiest part of it. Its just cobbled and straight up, pretty easy to ride just ride forward and put the power down. Sven Nys makes the Koppenberg look flat. It is not. There is a second climb past a little house and onto mud. That was the longest section of running I've ever ever done and it burnt and spit dribbled out my mouth.
4. The Belgian's liked our kit, they didn't really understand it as it has no sponsors but they liked that is was bright.
5. No one likes disc brakes, they scowled at me. Its not pure, CX is about skill and the thrill of seeing riders with the skill. It was very very clear that we were the commodity for those 18,000 screaming Belgiums to enjoy. Disc brakes help you stop, help you control your bike and mean you don't go in the pit as much, well that means less crashes, less changes in the lead, less edge of the seat action.
I'm pretty sure ol' Nys paused as he exited the pits on 3 to go to let Niels Albert recover and get  back to him so it would look like more of a head to head race. That made everyone scream with delight
6. The course isn't just off camber it has all these ridges that the trackers have made. That took some concentration and then after three laps it was all over for me. I was lapped at the bottom of the descent and my race was over and I was just getting to love the course for the fact it was so hard that riding more of the descent gave me little moments of relief.
7. I fell on my head once, the crowd liked that.
8. I'd like to go back but knowing what I know now, I can do it better. Much better than 26th
9. Delia's got the climbing legs I don't and she finished 18th.
10. I had some Frites with curry sauce and I really really liked it
11. Delia pulled on a port-a-loo door because we both really needed a wee and it upset the person inside, we were just checking it was/wasn't locked.
12. Thanks to all the people who cheered me on. Brits and Belgium including Gerard Brown's children, they were certainly the loudest.
13. It not really possible to describe that race, but I think people should go to it, even just to watch it. It is amazing to see elite riders go that fast.
14. They gave me a raw meat sandwich, I don't know what that is about!
15. Belgium commentator could not handle Delia's name. She got all sorts of De-li-ah, Derler, Dee Dee

Credit: Cyclephotos.co.uk
Waiting to be gridded. Credit: Cyclephotos.co.uk

Warming up. Credit: Matt Hinselwood

Signing on (they were confused, as we didn't show up in our outfits)

Free packed lunch fromthe organisers. Raw pork...

There are some more photos from Balint Humvas from Cyclephotos.co.uk here

Tame Impala - Elephant
Azealia Banks (feat. Lazy Jay) - 212
Nas - The Don
Netsky - Love Has Gone
Emile Sandé - My Kind of Love (Gemini Remix)
 Rudimental (feat. John Newman) - Feel The Love
Jessie Ware - Running (Disclosure Remix)
Hot Chip - Night and Day (Dusky Remix)
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs -Tapes & Money
Florence & The Machine - Spectrum (Say My Name) (Calvin Harris Remix)
 M83 - Midnight City (Eric Prydz Private Remix)
Major Lazer (feat. Amber Coffman) - Get Free
Guy Called Gerald

Warm up for at least 10 min, progressively increasing workload into Zone 2 for the duration.
After your warm-up, do 2-4 sets as follows:  (2 sets for 60 min session)
4 min at your hardest effort; then easy Zone 1 for 1 min.  Note average power during
the 4 min effort, as you will build workload from this.
Then do 3 min @ watts higher than your 4 min effort; then easy Zone 1 for 1 min.
Then do 2 min @ watts higher than your 3 min effort; then easy Zone 1 for 5 min.
Total time per set inc rest time - 17 minutes.
Repeat set 1 – 3 more times.

Cool down at least 10 min, progressively decreasing workload to low end Zone 1.

Its tricky and requires a bit of practise. That is where I find the motivation. Focus on sustaining the workload.  Not going out too hard, that your effort drops near the end.
You can change gears, sit and stand, work in the flats and work the hills.
I've been putting in a bit more turbo time recently. I'd prefer to go to the park but the constant rain and Army Fitness groups keep putting me off.
For the turbo to truly be bearable you need a good set up and I have found something that just about works for me.

1. No loud music from a hi fi. If my neighbour was next door making a noise like a plane was taking off that was intertwined with thumping dance music I think I'd be very upset.

2. Got an interval app on the iPhone. Then i can hear it ding and buzz and what not whenever. And you can listen to music at the same time.

3. Got pro summer shorts. Lighter the material the better as there is no wind to cool you down, key is that it has a back radio pocket, so you can slot your iPhone into it and listen to music and hear the dings of the interval without the cable whipping around your knees and face.
I like the Rapha Pro Team shorts, ViCiOUS Velo team shorts or Craft Cape Epic bibs. They meets requirement perfectly.

4. Buy some Skull Candy over the head ear phones from TK Maxx in Clapham.
I don't know about sound but they block out the turbo noise, they make music sound better and fit nicely around my ears and head rather than
Apple's earphones. They feel like someone trying to put their fist in my ear.

5. Download BBC iplayer. Listen to radio shows rather than over play ones music and get bored of it. Latest tunes and they are free. That has kept me entertained pretty well so far, I have a tendency to make a playlist and play it 100 times within a week then decide I hate all the songs on the list.