Best of Memories: CX Stars

A special one for CX fans – Cyclo-cross stars Ian Field, Paul Oldham, Ffion James and Helen Wyman reveal their best of memories in this VeloUK series packed with happy news!

Best of Memories: CX Stars

Ian Field (multiple British champion and national trophy winner) Ian writes … For me I’ve got a couple of best moments through my career so far.

I think the first one has to be my first national CycloCross title in 2012 at Ipswich. I had been trying to win the title for a number of years and had always come up short.

Finally after a race long battle with Liam Killeen, I managed to get the better of him and win in a really close finish. It was just a massive weight off my shoulders and relief. Being able to race in Europe with the national jersey was a massive thing for me at the time and it kick started my run of national titles.

I think at the time, everyone was willing me to win the title so that the jersey would be worn in the biggest races in the world in Belgium at the time. It also meant an awful lot to my sponsors at the time in Hargroves Cycles and especially Pete. I had signed for him a few years earlier with the goal of trying to win at national level for him.

I think in the first season riding for him, I won a national trophy which was a first for the team and then obviously this was huge for the team. It took the team to a new level and since then it has been seen as one of the big forces behind British Cross in the UK.

Pete put a lot of faith in me to deliver by allowing me to be a paid cyclocross rider which hadn’t been done for a while in the UK. Now look at the Cross scene in the UK…

My second highlight has to be away from racing and ultimately more about why I got into cycling and why I continue to ride. The friendships and escapism is what cycling is all about for me. A fond memory is training camps in amazing places, riding beautiful roads with friends and having fun.

One of the my favourite places to ride in the world is Andorra and one ride springs to mind, a 7 hour ride down into Spain and doing a few new climbs up to amazing views. My friend Alex Camier motorpaced a lot of the climbs for me and spent the entire time on the moped with me throughout the day. Stopping for lunch at the top of a mountain at a picnic spot and just feeling amazing on the bike all day in great weather.

It’s just one of those days that will stick with me for the rest of my life. That feeling of just being fit enough to ride all day up and down mountains is something that will not be with you forever. Hopefully I will be able to get out there again this summer at some point to ride with friends and catch up with a number of VELD coached athletes who live there.

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Paul Oldham (off road legend and on road rider too)

Paul writes … That is a tough one. Probably one of the most memorable things in my career was winning the Under 23 MTB championships in 1999. It was a big turning point in my self belief as a bike rider.

It was a big goal that season for both me and Wilks (Ian Wilkinson). We trained together a lot , and started really taking things seriously. I introduced Wilks to the joys of cafe stops and fed him plenty of cake.

The championships were at Eastridge, a course I knew would suit me. After pre riding on the Saturday, I went to bed with a real feeling that the only outcome was me winning. I couldn’t sleep for thinking how I was going to put my arms in the air because of a steep bank just before the finish.

This was the first time I’d gone into a race with that feeling and it has only happened a few times in my life. I only told Sally (Paul’s wife). It was similar when I won the cyclo cross champs, I told my dad in October that I was going to win it. I think I messed up and I should have told them I was going to win the worlds!!!

Helen Wyman (women’s CX superstar)
Helen Writes … My best moment had to be winning European champs in Ipswich in front of a home crowd. I remember entering the finish straight on the hoods, not drops, thinking “sh**, if I don’t win this I’m never gonna forgive myself”.

Luckily I had the home advantage and although Sanne van Passen was a better flat sprinter, it kicked slightly uphill at the end. The crowd was sooooooo noisy it was crazy. I loved it.

Ffion James

Ffion writes … “So many of my favourite memories involve bikes. Whether that’s racing them, riding them, watching them or talking about them! Choosing a favourite moment is like choosing my favourite sibling (I have a lot to choose from!)

I’ve thought about the elation I’ve felt after some of my biggest wins, or the views I’ve seen and the climbs I’ve ridden in beautiful places. But the one thing I realise that will keep me in the cycling world for the rest of my life is the friendships I’ve made along the way; these are where my best memories lie.

One recent memory is from training in France with my favourite training partner Amira last year. We’ve been friends since we raced against each other for the first time in an Under 12 cx race and since then have had so many great times together both on and off the bike! On one day of our week-long training camp, we got an early morning train from Chambery deep into the Alps with the plan of riding back.

First we rode the Col de Madeleine with the climb starting the moment we left the station. The early morning mist lifted as we climbed revealing the most spectacular views. From there we started our hot and hilly ride back to Chambery. When Amira and I train together, we have the tendency to put each other in a bit of a hole, usually taking it in turns to be the one putting the hurt on!

But on this ride we seemed to crack simultaneously. The route was saying we only had a flat 15km ride back to our apartment but our legs were saying we may as well have had the Col de Madeleine to climb again. We stopped as soon as we could which luckily for us was a Lidl. After raiding the bakery section and demolishing a packet of Haribos, we slowly felt like ourselves again.

Unfortunately for me the snack stop did Amira wonders and so the 15km ride back involved me being half wheeled the whole way. This might not seem like the most enjoyable day on a bike ever. But suffering together definitely helps you bond with someone even though there is very little talking involved! (Don’t get me wrong I also love a cafe ride. Especially one which results in doubling up on the coffee and cake).


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