Talk Time: Simon Gaywood

VeloUK talks to the first ever winner of the Elite Circuit Series Simon Gaywood of Corley Cycles about the series in 2011 and more …

In any given Elite British race like a Premier Calendar or Elite Circuit Series event, the field is made up of perhaps 30 per cent professional full time riders and the rest are either working or students. One of those who works and races at the highest level in Britain is Simon Gaywood.

Simon races for the Corley Cycles/Cervelo team sponsored by former British pro champion Phil Corley and in Stafford made it onto the podium in the Elite Circuit race there. In the other races, he has made the top 10 in both Otley and  Colne and like many riders, is having to find a fine balance between paying the mortgage and doing enough to compete with the full time pros.

2007 and Simon wins a round of the Elite Circuit Series.

Having won the first ever Circuit Series back in 2003, Simon explained the series is a lot different in 2011 than it was back then. “More teams have showed an interest in racing the series” he says. “In the first year, you would get the odd star turn up like Malc (Malcolm Elliott) and the Downings (Russell and Dean) and then they would not turn up for several of the rounds. Now the events are being televised, it is worth the teams turning up to get themselves on TV and in front of big crowds.”

“So it has got harder and harder.”

Looking back at his podium in Stafford where he managed to prevent a Rapha 1-2-3, he explained “Stafford was a relief because I have been gagging to get onto the podium for a few years now.  In 2007, when riding for Plowman Craven, I won three of the rounds with them and finished second behind a teammate, Gordon McCauley, in the series.”

Back in the day when there was an Archer Grand Prix (now sadly not part of the calendar) Simon Gaywood was a winner in 2007 and winning a classic like that is always memorable for a rider.

“That year was amazing. I won the Archer Grand Prix and was then winning three rounds of the circuit series. I was flying but since then the teams have become organised and I have been a little more on my own so it isolates me a little bit at the end when you have the likes Clancy, and Downing with a  mega leadout with five laps to go.”“

“They’re doing 40 mph and you have to do 50 just to move up and then have something left to sprint at the end. It makes life difficult. You can be there tapping on the door but sometimes you need some luck and Stafford, due to the circuit, I was in the right place, had good legs and unfortunately I also had three Raphas to contend with. My priority was to make the podium and we got that.”

Since his win in 2003, Simon’s mix in life has been the same, balancing bike racing and work as well as family life. “If anything, my work is busier now and my wife has her own business too now so I’m helping her a lot. This morning (the morning of the Abergavenny GP) I was in the East of England showground selling joint supplements for dogs and then I go home tonight and I’m on the trade stand tomorrow and Sunday.”

“My wife is pregnant too so we have a baby due in November so things are going to get more busy in life and you have to change, you have to work out how you can fit the training in and still be a bit competitive. Sometimes it takes the edge off and sometimes you can have some luck. I know I can be there or thereabouts though”.

In order to be competitive, Simon has to be smart with his training and says “I can fit in the short intervals and speed work into my programme but I do find the longer racing does give you strength. It does transfer across to the crits so you to do need that a bit as well and sometimes I do miss that but you just have to make do.”

Simon signs on for an Elite Circuit Series race knowing the full time riders are favourites to dominate the race but that there is also room for the ‘workers’ to get in on the action.

“My coach Richard Davidson sets my programme out four or five weeks out in advance so my work fits around my training. In general, I do my training in the morning up until lunchtime and then  I come home and I work from then until 9pm or whatever. Some days I treat more people, some days I don’t. Now we have my wife’s business as well, I am having to work some weekends as well and sacrificing some events because unfortunately cycling does not pay the mortgage.”

“I don’t think the full time thing is the be all and end all. You can have a job, train hard and get your head in the right place and race well against full time riders.”

Simon has always been one for using motorpacing to get the speed he needs to be competitive in  the circuit races and says “if you look at the rear bumper of this team car, there isn’t much left and it’s covered in a Mavic sticker to hide the hole!”

“Dick Hooper is amazing. I send him a text and he’s at my house the following day and we’re wanging up and down the main road with me sitting on the bumper so it’s pacing behind the car and intervals. I wouldn’t be able to do it without him and he’s busy with the shop and that so I have to thank him for the time he gives up to help me”.

“Phil (Corley) and Dick run a bike shop (Corley Cycles) and sponsor  this team for the love of it and that makes us want to ride hard and get results because it’s important we put something back in too. When we see a race on TV, you get used to hearing Rapha or Endura but we want to hear Phil Corley and give him and the sponsors some publicity back.”

It’s rare that anyone beats Rapha to the line at the moment so getting on the podium in Stafford was a real achievment for Simon.

“Everyone in the team knows what the crack is here. We all work and know when we turn up at a race that the others will have done a stage race here or there or have had a good rest or been staying in a hotel and haven’t had to drive up but that’s the way it is. There is no point winging about it. We train as hard as can and we go in with a plan and sometimes it pays off and sometimes we get a kicking.”

“We (his team) can compete though and have some really good riders. I think the difference a lot of the time is confidence. I think the year I had in 2007, physically, I was doing well but that year moved me on mentally, giving me the confidence that I can compete against these guys. This is what I try to push across to the other riders in the team because they are bloody good riders and they can achieve more than what they have.”

Making your own luck
Simon then explained that although getting in the move in Stafford was lucky, he also helped make his own luck by ensuring he was gridded at the start and not stuck down the back of the peloton as some were and missed the winning move completely.

“Even though I missed the move in Otley, it was still important to get as high a placing as possible because while I may not know all the circuits, I know about the gridding system and on some circuits you have to be at the front, in the top 10. That is the do or die for a lot of these crits and at Stafford that put me in the right place. I knew I had good legs, could see it splitting and jumped on it and it was carnage behind me.”

And then there is the speed at which the riders go round corners! Simon admits you do have to unscrew your head a little bit in order to be competitive. “Stafford was unbelievably technical and I nearly decked it in the break and Jimmy Mac too. We both grounded the pedals and threw the back end up in the air but you just get on with it.”

“If you’re not prepared to take those risks and the other guys are, then you may as well not turn up.”

A cyclist to race well needs a good bike and Simon took us through his … “It’s a Cervelo S3 frameset, full carbon and is their top end frameset. It’s finished off with a SMP saddle, Shimano Dura Ace groupset whilst the chainset is a Rotar3D and is a power meter imported from America.”

“The wheels are Mavic Ultimate with Mavic tubulars and the wheels are amazing. Full carbon, mega light, mega stuff and mega expensive!”

Simon says unlike a lot of the pros who will have training and race bikes as well as mechanics to look after them, his bike does both for training and racing. “I train on this bike, look after it by cleaning and servicing it and if anything major happens to it, I’ll take it the shop (Phil Corley Cycles at Stacey Bushes).

Simon says that he used to run a 39×50 but now runs a 39×53 with 11-23 cassette.

“The chain and cables are replaced regularly and after a wet session, the bike gets cleaned and doesn’t sit round wet and horrible. You have to look after your bike and be professional even if we’re not full time.”

Power cranks plus full carbon wheels from Mavic compliment the pro spec frame.

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