Q & A: Paul Oldham (Hope RT)

Winner of the Three Peaks, former British champion Paul Oldham (Hope RT) looks back at the National Trophy

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Q & A: Paul Oldham (Hope RT)

1. Looking back at the National Trophy, are you happy with how it went this season?
Paul: I’m fairly happy with how the National Trophy season has gone. I’ve had a couple of lean years so it’s been good to be back close to the front. I’m not fighting for the win these days with Ian and Yorben , but I still think I can get involved.

Young riders like Billy Harding have also stepped up and are looking the real deal. I’m not looking forward to all these fast juniors moving up as there is some real talent at the moment and I hope they stick at ‘cross and don’t go to the road.

2. Which round was the best for you and why?
Paul: I think the Hetton round was the course that suited my strengths the most and I also had my best result there. It was a good testing course which showed up any weaknesses. I always like racing in the North East.

3. Tell us about the bike you used for the series – how did it differ to other bikes you have used in the past and what did you enjoy most on the bike this season?
Paul: We had new bikes for this year and I couldn’t wait to get them. We have the new Scott Addict CX frames with our 45mm carbon tub wheels on Pro4 hubs. The main change this year is our new RX4 caliper which works with the SRAM hydraulic lever, which upgrades us from our V twin brakes from the last few years. With a few other tweaks and our new carbon seatpost, we have the weight down to 6.9kg

4. Because its a winter sport, a mild winter but still cold!, how does the clothing differ from what you will use in summer
Paul: I suffer from the cold quite a bit, especially my hands. So the mild winter is good for me. I’ve made the mistake of wearing too little in races (Mallory 2007) so I’ve always made sure I’m warm since then. This year I’ve had the new aero helmet from Scott and if you block all the vents it keeps your head warm. I’d much rather be too hot than too cold!

5. Did your preparation for the series change in 2016 (slower than usual start?) or do you have a good formula nailed down for it after all these years (sorry about that)?
Paul: I did prepare slightly different this year. I had two big goals for the year (MTB Marathon champs / 3 Peaks) at the end of August and end of September. I usually race ‘cross from the beginning of September, but this year my first proper cross was Derby.

It was a bit of a shock to the system as it was a dirt crit and I’d been training for long races. Now I’m getting old, a bit of mud would have been better to slow them down!

6. Were the conditions for the Trophy this year different to other years – ie, less muddy?
Paul: This year’s trophy has been very dry and fast which isn’t really my cup of tea. That’s why I preferred Hetton and Shrewsbury which took a bit of the speed out of the races. Last year was the exact opposite, wall to wall mud from November onwards.

7. Behind every success story within the tapes of a ‘cross race is a team of helpers – how many people look after you at races in the pits and events in general.
Paul: This sport just wouldn’t happen without the helpers! I’m so lucky to have had some of the best people out there looking after me.

For years I had the Pit god Jamie Brady washing and sorting bikes. This year with Jamie not coming to all the trophies, I’ve had the help of Steve Poole. These guys make life at races so easy for me.

Pooley loves getting stuck in, muddier the better for him. I also get a lot of help from Rob Jones at Hope who he keeps on top of my bikes etc. My main helper/ superfan is Sally (wife) who must get sick of all the van packing/unpacking, washing, and weekends sleeping on random carparks.

She has both kids and me to look after. It really is a team sport, to do it properly is a LOT of work for everyone. I also have no end of help from my employer/sponser Hope Tech, Scott bikes give me the best bikes out there and OTE keep me fuelled . I can’t thank them all enough.

8. What is the key physical attribute a rider needs for British cross races which requires both running and riding and skills to match.
Paul: You need a good level of fitness/ skills as cross tests your speed, strength and technique. I struggle at the start of races these days so have to rely on working through the field as the race goes on.

The last couple of years, I have incorporated some running into training, but in most races the run ups are fairly short. Cross skills in general usually improve as the season goes on. I usually neglect them a bit. I just don’t have time in the week as work and life take care of that!

9. What will be your preparation events for the National Champs this year and being at Bradford, is there anything in training you will do to prepare for that course?
Paul: I was hoping to get my head down and prepare well for Bradford, but I came down with a cold before Shrewsbury and hurt my back this week. So the prep could be better! I need to do some run up practice etc over Xmas and get some mud power in the legs for Bradford.

10. Finally, after the British Cross champs, what will be your goals for 2017?
Paul: I have a few goals for next year! Mainly the MTB marathon champs and 3 Peaks. I’ll be a vetern next year so that could change my plans a bit. As long as we are enjoying it, that is the main thin.




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