Q&A: Toby Barnes (RST/Cycle Division)

Rocking his Cero wheels around the country, Toby Barnes of RST/Cycle Division is leading the Under 23 National Trophy CX Series after five rounds (one to go) – we quiz him on his season

Q&A: Toby Barnes (RST/Cycle Division)

Rocking his Cero wheels around the country, Toby Barnes of RST/Cycle Division is leading the Under 23 National Trophy CX Series after five rounds (one to go) – we quiz him on his season

Leading the Series for under 23s – happy with your results in the Trophys?
Toby: Yes, overall I’m very happy with the results. Getting 3rd Elite at Irvine being the highlight so far. Many of the races have had riders from Belgium and Holland and I’ve been really happy to finish among them. I’m really looking forward to going into the final round in York wearing the green jersey.

Was the Under 23 Series a goal before the season began?
Toby: I was aiming for podium positions in the Under 23 but hadn’t set the overall win as a target. As the series has gone on, it is now a real possibility so I will be doing everything I can to try and secure the win overall.

Does the racing change when there a lot of riders from abroad like Wales?
Toby: It makes the racing step up to a higher level. With lots of top Belgian riders coming over, it means there’s a lot more people at the front of the race. It is great to be able to race with these Elite riders who push the level up.

Any rivalry between you and Dan winning your category in the Trophys?
Toby: Obviously we both want to win our categories so I think a bit of friendly rivalry helps us both race the best we can. This season we haven’t trained as much together because I have moved to Loughborough University but we keep an eye on each others training!

Which round has had the toughest course so far?
Toby: Crawley was the toughest course for me. A combination of bad legs, lots of running, some really technical drops and tough sloggy mud sections made it a really hard race.

Which course has been the most fun to race?
Toby: I really enjoyed the first round at Derby as it was still really fast as usual but was also really slippy from lots of rain just before my race started. There were also a lot of foreign riders meaning lots more riders to be racing against so the positions were always going to be more open.

Toby at Derby chasing a Belgian rival…

Crawley and West Moorland were muddy yes? Which do you prefer, the mud fest or a drier faster course like Derby?
Toby: I think overall, the drier courses suit me a bit better but I’ve also had some really good races in muddy conditions. Either are fun to race.

Do you go into a trophy race with a strategy or is it a case of staying at the front for as long as you can?
Toby: I usually try to stay up at the front when I can and try to follow the more experienced rider’s lines and see how they ride etc

How many bikes do you use in a muddy race like Crawley or West Moorland?
Toby: Usually just two bikes but at Crawley I had a mechanical with one of the bikes so had to use my third bike for some of the race.

How does a muddy course affect the bike during a race? Can you feel it getting slower and heavier?
Toby: On some courses such as Crawley, we were having to change the bike every half lap due to all the mud building up on the bike. Changing on to a new bike feels really fast when it’s clean and a lot lighter. It’s tough for the helpers in the pits though!

Your Cero wheels – what tyres do you use and how many different types can you choose from for cross for the different conditions?
Toby: On my Cero wheels, I have Challenge Griffo tyres (intermediates) but also have my mud and dry tyres to choose from depending on the conditions. The Cero RC-38 wheels which I ride are really lightweight but very strong and are the easiest wheels to glue tubs to which we have ever used.

Do you have to wear special clothing for CX to keep warm in a winter event?
Toby: I don’t usually wear any special clothing, usually just a thicker base layer or gloves when it gets really cold.

How much riding of the course to see what its like do you have to do before a race?
Toby: I try to do 3-4 laps riding the course on the morning of a race, going back to ride the technical sections a few times. This season we cannot ride the national courses on the day before but that has not really been a problem as conditions can change massively from Saturday to Sunday so a practice on the day is all that is needed to be able to sort out tyre and pressure choices.

When do you start your training for the CX season?
Toby: I have a break after my road season then start building for cross in August.

Do you do a lot of skills work for starts/hurdles etc before the season starts?
Toby: Yes, I try to get skills practice in before the season as the first few cross rides back, the skills are always a bit rusty! The position on a cross bike is different to a road bike too which takes a few rides to get used to.

Do you do a lot of training between the rounds of the Trophy races?
Toby: I usually ride 5-6 times a week with varying sessions to improve different aspects of the CX races, including some strength and conditioning sessions at the gym and running.

During a race there is a lot of lapping riders – are there unwritten rules lapped riders should know when not holding up a faster rider?
Toby: As the National Trophy rounds are run under UCI regs, the 80% rule means that riders are very rarely lapped and usually get pulled out of the race before the leader comes round to lap them. Occasionally, when you do lap a rider, they are aware that a faster rider is on their way from spectators letting them know but they generally pull to one side to let you have a clear line through.

Finally, after the CX season is finished, what will be your goals for 2020?
Toby: After the Trophy series has finished, I’m really looking forward to having some fun racing in Belgium after Christmas. I’m going with a friend and racing four races: Louenhout, Diegem, Bredene and Baal. We don’t have pit crew at the moment so hoping for dry conditions!

As I have just started at Loughborough University studying Maths and Sport Science, I am supported by them on their Gold Cycling Academy programme which means I get help with coaching, S&C, nutrition, gym access and as there are a number of Elite riders there, I will hopefully be able to train alongside them and race some local road and circuit races.

I am a 1st Cat road rider and a member of the RST Cycle Division who are a really supportive team to be part of. They have lots of advice, knowledge and experience which has really helped me as a rider this last year. We had great success last season and my highlights were winning a couple of road races, the West Mids Road Race league overall and coming 2nd on GC and winning the points jersey in the Tour of Sussex.

I find having a good full road season really sets me up for the cyclocross season so we’ll see what happens next year!



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