‘Scottish Aussie,’ Paul Rowney (Velo Ecosse) rode Sunday’s British Elite Cyclo-Cross Championship; we caught up with him [hands—free, of course] as he chased the cat’s eyes north after the race.
How’d it go, Paul?
“I was 12th, but I was coming from the second-last of ten rows on the start grid; the start arrangement is seeded on points won in the National Series — I don’t have any, so I was way-back.
“I was moving-up well, but I had a huge ‘off’ at around 24 mph and that took a lot out of me; I bent a lever, but got going again, I was happy enough, but for the crash I would have made top ten.
“Hammond won it, from Killeen — I think that Killeen made a mistake in letting Hammond go to the front during the last lap then couldn’t get past him again at the finish.”
What was the course like and did it suit you?
“It wasn’t bad, a bit bumpy but not like a mountain bike course though, I like it a bit more open and with a few more technical sections. Everyone’s in the same boat though, aren’t they?”
What about equipment?
“The bike was my Yeti cross machine, I was on clinchers and a 42/46 ring set-up, it’s only the third cross I’ve raced on it, so I’m still getting used to it.
“With the benefit of hindsight I’d have been better on tubs, you can ride them at lower pressures and they’re faster. I’d also change my ring choice to 40/44, the 46 gives big gears and the course wasn’t fast enough for that.
“I had a spare bike, but never used it, I was amazed at the level of kit a lot of the guys have down there; spare bikes, two sets of carbon-rimmed wheels and Dugast (the choice of ALL the top guys in the World, hand-made in France at around :£100 each) tyres — I was really surprised.”: [See our article about Dugast tyres here]
“Dunno, I was cross-eyed most of the time and couldn’t see anything!”
“Equipment-wise, like I said, tubs definitely and smaller rings but the main thing would be to come into the race with points from riding National Series events to get a good start position, the race is over by half-distance, there’s no way you’re going to catch guys like Hammond when you start so far back; you’d need to be Superman!”
How does a cross at this level compare to a top mountain bike race?
“It’s much more ferocious, mountain bike racing is all about pacing yourself, in the cross, it’s all in the start, in cross; you have to be up there right from the gun.
“It’s much shorter than a mountain bike race, more like a short course mountain bike race, very high intensity.
“It’s not a thing you would think about, but in a mountain bike race of the same duration as the National (approx. one hour), I would drink two bottles, that’s simply not possible in a cross and I noticed that lack of hydration.”
How did the atmosphere compare to a big mountain bike race?
“Yeah, good, I got good support from the Scots that were there and from the Poms that knew me and recognised me, once they realised it was me.
“It was a well-supported event; the car park took about an hour to clear after the race.”
Plans for 2008?
“I’d like to bag a UK mountain bike title of some kind, but the first thing is I’ll need to spend time getting myself fitter.”
Don’t we all, Paul, don’t we all?…
1. Roger Hammond Team High Road Sports
2. Liam Killeen Specialized Factory Racing
3. Paul Oldham Hope Factory Racing
4. Jody Crawforth Evans Cycles RT
5. Daniel Booth Pedal Power Loughborough
6. Ian Wilkinson Science in Sport/Trek
7. Rob Jebb Wheelbase/Gore Bike Wear
8. David Collins Science in Sport/Trek
9. Nick Craig Team Scott UK
10. Lewis Craven Wheelbase/Gore Bike Wear
11. Jim Bryan Ace RT/Impsport/Zepnat
12. Paul Rowney Equipe Velo Ecosse/Montpeliers
13. Duncan Jamieson Felt Racing
14. Stuart Bowers Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/Specialized
15. Jamie Newall Evans Cycles RT
16. William Bjergfelt Kona UK/Paligap
17. Simon Richardson Plowman Craven/Evans Cycles RT
18. Carl Sturgeon Retrobike.co.uk
19. Stuart Wearmouth Picarsso-Pulman RT
20. Nathan Miller 53-12 Multisports