Q & A: Isaac Mundy (Richardsons Trek)

Second in the British Circuit Race Championships in 2020, Isaac Mundy of Richardsons Trek who’s highlight in 2019 was getting back on a mountain bike properly and toughest race, the Tour de Yorkshire

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Q & A: Isaac Mundy (Richardsons Trek)

A win in Belgium for Isaac at the Zele (O) event with Joe Sutton second

– What does it mean to you to ride for a team as long standing as this one?
Isaac: It means a lot to represent a team and a title sponsor who are both so long-standing. There’s a feeling of security and a continuity of culture that you can’t synthesise, it only comes through years of practicing a good team ethos. I look at the photos Erik Richardson has up in the eponymous shop in Leigh-on-Sea and it’s really nice to feel part of that team. I am proud of being from (almost – 3 miles) Essex, and riding for Richardsons Trek ties into developing a feeling of community.

– Where are you based in the UK?
Isaac: I’m in South East London – super close to Herne Hill Velodrome, and it works well for trips to Belgium.

– What is your favourite training area where you are based?
Isaac: My favourite loops are all at altitude in Essex which is pretty cool. You wouldn’t think there was the opportunity to train at over 2000m but it turns out that Andorra is totally superfluous.

– What are your 2019 highlights?
Isaac: In 2019, I got back on a mountain bike properly and it was really really great, the Wisley jam in August was my highlight of the summer.

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– What was the most fun/enjoyable race you did in 2019?
Isaac: I think the last stage of the 3 jours du Cherbourg was the most fun race day of 2019. It was a gorgeous day racing along the coast of Normandy, and after a torrid couple of days being taken out by dogs, being spat, eating gooseberry pies, I actually came round and was able to ride my teammate out of the bunch in the final. Thrilling. I felt really fortunate to be there and super at ease with the situation. Really grateful to the team for taking us there, and we’re pleased to have been invited back in 2020 as the only UK team competing with DN1 and Belgie Top Comp teams.

– What was the toughest race you did in 2019
Isaac: Yorkshire. The weather was just so horrific (God’s own country, what? #otherplacesarefinetoo) and I was in a hole physically from a super intense block of travel and racing, so I just swung round for four days and then drove myself five hours home from Leeds straight after. It’s a shame, as it was a brilliant opportunity to start such a prestigious race, which I managed to hate the entire time. Good to look back on it as a learning experience about how to look after yourself and when things aren’t alright – fix them.

– Was there one thing you learned in 2019 that stands out?
Isaac: Something which stood out was just seeing the UK scene for what it is. At a certain race this year, with a certain farm vehicle, a certain team behaved in a way that made me be like. Come on guys. Buck up. Everyone’s doing their best. I think the scales fell from my eyes a bit.

Pushing on over the cobbles at the Sheffield GP town centre race

– Your bike for 2019 was what? And how was it set up (groupset/wheels etc)
Isaac: For the majority of the season I was on a Trek Emonda SL6 with Ultegra and 50mm Bontragers. I really get on with the fit and handling of Emondas and was super happy with the bike.

– Favourite type of race, road race or crit?
Isaac: My favourite events are crits, I really enjoy executing the whole process. However, road races can be more enjoyable while you’re actually racing. Team interaction, tactics and the challenges presented by the terrain & wind make for an engaging and rewarding experience.

– Do you have a usual role in a race like being in breaks etc or freedom to just race …
Isaac: Not really a set role in classical bike racing terms but it depends on the race and the squad. I think everyone on RT has a role which has come from the understanding that both riders and the management all work and have other commitments, so your racing is something you get to take ownership of, but that everyone is going to do their absolute best on the day. Our role is to represent the team well and give everything that’s feasible and I think everyone really buys into that. There’s a whiff of democratic socialism I think where riding and lead-outs do get shared out over the year, and I’m looking forward to continuing to build a racing unit with riders like Si Alexander and Pete Cocker, who have the experience and talent but not necessarily the results.

– In National A road races and crits, are they quite physical between riders?
Isaac: I’m hoping that with certain riders moving away from the sport that the rather disappointing attitude often on display begins to dissipate slightly. It can get pretty physical at times in a way which isn’t to do with the racing but seemingly belies a very elitist attitude.

In the break with eventual winner Joey Walker  at the Circuit Race Championships in 2019

– Any scary moments in 2019 in races?
Isaac: When JJ hit a folding bollard right in front of me. Cherbourg 2019. He mentions it in his Q&A. Honestly the state of that lad. There was also a big crash at the Manx GP crit, those who were riding know who caused it. Not a surprise. I managed to avoid the chaos by slipping between a tree, a post, a gate and a big big curb. Very scary.

– Going back to a team car – how much effort does that require or is it quite easy jumping from car to car etc
Isaac: Depending on the race situation it’s usually ok. Often easier in the continental races as you have a larger, more experienced convoy and the races are more controlled. It can be hard work in prems sometimes. That being said, I punctured in the first 10k of Le Samyn last year and the convoy time was a huge effort, with Quickstep controlling who got in the break. By the time I got back in, I felt absolutely ragged.

– Are your winter training days structured or is it just riding to maintain fitness for now?
Isaac: Having started riding in November to build some consistent fitness, I’m now on the track to work on higher intensity stuff and keep developing race skills, with a good amount of structured work on the road as well.

– Do you do any type of racing in the winter?
Isaac: In the past I’ve done seasons of hill climbs or cyclocross, and last year cross was quite serious with trips to Belgium for DVV Trofees, but this year it’s been really great to focus on life and training.

– Do you work?
Isaac: I am working yep; it’s a bit of a struggle to maintain consistent training with shift work but I’ve got a decent system where work days are also gym days, and I get a rest day in somewhere.

– What is your favourite race in the UK and why?
Isaac: The Guildford crit. Need I say more. It’s class. Be good to win.

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– Are there things you would like to see changed about the race calendar in the UK?
Isaac: I think there are tweaks and changes yes. It would be great to see BC work to put the value of race out on the road first, and those events with a sense of history and significance. I would also like to see a restructuring of the crit season, moving away from the Tour Series towards a national circuit series that is more coherently integrated within the calendar. This would aim to harness the spectator friendly format and excitement of town centre races while being more accessible for ‘amateur’ riders logistically, recognising that the UK scene is moving away from the model of full time, financially supported riders.

For example, it would be great to combine National Road Series races with a crit the night before. Nearly all teams travel the day before, so mandatory attendance for teams of over 3 riders could ensure a level playing field of fatigue. There are clearly location-based issues with this, not all current venues would be in a position to support two events, but with the time and energy of teams not being exhausted by the Tour Series it could be a way to re-energise promotional interest, TV coverage and get more people excited about UK domestic racing.

There are lots of ways to re-imagine things and I’m really pleased to see the appointment of Erick Rowsell by British Cycling as someone who’ll be working on this. I was really fortunate to be teammates with Erick in 2018; he has a brilliantly statesmanlike presence for someone who’s only just nudging 30 and will be a great ambassador for Elite level racing.

At the sharp end of the Zele (O) road race in Belgium which he won 

– Do you spend more time training indoors in the winter than the summer?
Isaac: Yes but I’m not on the turbo much. If I really have to.

– Warm weather training camps or grin and bear the British winter …
Isaac: I’m in the UK a lot more this winter compared to the past few, but am in a location where the conditions actually aren’t that bad and there are usually some good groups out. We’ve been gloveless practically all winter. There’s been a couple of commercial opportunities abroad to break it up and a team trip in February which I’m really looking forward to. The Richardsons training camps generate a lot of the banter for the succeeding season.

– When do you expect your 2020 season to begin?
Isaac: I might line up at the Wally Gimber or Jock Wadley and would like to race some early season kermesses for the bunch speed and racing dynamics, to get up to speed before the UK calendar properly kicks off.

– Finally, what races in 2020 are ones you really want to work towards being part of?
Isaac: I have my favourites which keep me motivated in the winter, and as usual hope to be lining up at Lincoln and Ryedale. It’s hard to know exactly what shape my season will take but I’m hoping to win some more races in Belgium and work towards driving the team performances forward. I’ll also work to be a part of the team for any overseas races the team takes on in 2020; racing in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain over the past couple of years has been really valuable.

Thanks Isaac and good luck for 2020 … 

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