George Armstrong's Review of the 2015-16 Cyclo-cross Season

My name is George Armstrong. I have had a great cyclo-cross season 2015-16. I am the junior champion for the south west. This is my 2nd season doing cyclo-cross, in my heart I am a mountain biker but love the different disciplines to improve my fitness and training. My season started in Weston Super Mare with the flan rou event organised by Ridley bikes. This was a multi event competition culminating in the junior/seniors/both vets race at the end. This was my type of course with obstacles being easy to jump on the bike and a flat-ish course. I beat many in my race including Andrew Parker (a vet 40 MDCC cyclo-cross champion and commissaire). Through this Nick Rowell approached Bike It Barnstaple and Mike Sanders to secure the ultimate sponsorship deal to provide me with a cyclo-cross bike for the season. The bike was fantastic it is a TCX Giant XS. I haven't looked back winning 10 out of the 13 rounds in my category.

Cyclo-cross is a good leveller of abilities you need to think through your race whilst on you practice lap as none of the courses are identical. For example the Mount Kelly course took in hills, tarmac, wooded area with tree roots and the flat grassy area whilst the Coxleigh Barton event was thick, sticky muddy and many hills. One of my favourite courses is the St Austell Brewery race as it includes tight corners, wooded areas, steep drops and the famous brewery steps.

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Although I am pleased to be south west champion I realise that I am against only a small number of other competitors throughout the south west. Many of these I meet regularly in other disciplines and where I beat them in this one, they may beat me in others. However to put this position in context I need to compete with others nationally. I am ranked 69 nationally out of 181 in cyclo-cross. I have attended 1 national and 1 national trophy race. These are only open to racers that have points from previous regional races. You apply and pay your race entry and then you wait to see if you are successful. I went to the races at Southampton and Milton Keynes. These two are from a series that include Durham and Ipswich. Southampton cyclo-cross suffered from very little rain favouring the larger racers as they could power along straights without being bought up short with thick mud. The Milton Keynes race was a better cyclo-cross race as the mud was thick, the descents were scary and the racers were forced to jump off the bikes often and race with them on their shoulders. When you step up to national level you race against people who are top of their game, for example I race against Daniel Tullett (Specialised racing) who races internationally for MTB and cyclo-cross. Also there are many more rules to national events; Dad got told of twice for breeches of rules for pitting, this could affect my standing (by deducting points) or cause disqualification if it was seen as a deliberate attempt to affect others.

I need to say many thanks for this season. I would have to start with Bike It Barnstaple and Mike Sanders for the sponsorship of the TCX Giant XS and the spare disc wheels. Not only did they provide the bike they also built it and Paul Belton from The Bike Shed fitted it for me and gave me a great deal on new shoes. Also they mended it when I ripped of the rear hanger at Mount Kelly. They have checked my brakes and serviced the bike to make sure I can keep my advantage. I also need to say thank you to Nick Rowell for securing this sponsorship and for the help of the race team. Also I must say thanks to the race team and Taw Velo this has given me the opportunity to support others in this sport and it's great when there are many of us cheering each other along. Finally I need to thank my family especially my Dad who has taken me to all the races (it's not just so he can take part in his race... honest). He has been a constant support and in the final race, my pit crew. My favourite memories from this season have been lapping my dad at St Austell, being on every podium, winning a Lazer helmet and meeting a lot of cyclo-cross racers who often speak to me during the races and encourage me.