National Trophy Cyclocross Report – Rounds 3 & 4

Colchester Rovers youth rider, Isaac Starmer, has made the jump to U16 this year. Here is his report on his first two rounds of the National Trophy Series.

Photos courtesy of Larry Hickmott, VeloUK.

My dad and I headed up to Derby for Round 3 of the Cyclocross National Trophy Series on Sunday 29th October. It was just under a 3 hour car journey so it meant getting up early to be there at 9:00am to sign on. When we got there we set up “camp” and I signed on and got my numbers and timing chip as soon as possible. For the first bit of the day we were watching the races that were on and seeing how the course was changing over time. At 11:00am I headed out for my sighting lap with a clean bike but it definitely didn’t end that way! I chose to ride 3 laps of the course as it was extremely muddy and I wanted to make sure I knew the ins and outs of it. However on my first lap my chain came off so I ran to Dad and he gave me my other bike whilst he checked out that one. With lots of running on the sighting laps I knew it would be a chaotic start with everyone off their bikes for a lot of it. 35 minutes before my race I started to warm up on the rollers then headed over with 10-15 minutes before the start.

My race started at 13:45 so it was pretty much the last race of the weekend therefore it was all churned up and muddy. I was gridded 75th/91 riders which made me 10th row on the grid. Being so far back meant I would have to try my best to get as far up as possible before the first technical section. The course started with a long road then grass (turning to mud very quickly though) straight which gave me enough time to get where I had hoped to be and further. Judging by the people around me I knew I had done the right thing going full gas at the start, however I would pay for that later on. After the first lap I was around 30th place and I just had to hold on. I pitted nearly every lap because the mud sticking to the bike made it very heavy to run with and throughout the race I could feel myself “blowing up”. I had a few incidents of getting stuck in the tape but apart from that it all went smoothly. In the end I finished in 27th place and around 10th first year U16 out of a big field which I was extremely pleased with. 

On Saturday 11th November my family and I took the 6 hour drive down to Torbay for Round 4 of the Cyclocross National Trophy Series. We would stay in a hotel overnight because it was too far to do in one day. When we arrived, first we went to the course and took a sneak peek at the conditions which were just mud, mud and more mud, afterwards we had a nice drive around the beautiful town of Torquay which was right on the coast. We then headed to the hotel, settled down and had a bit of tuning down time before going out to dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant at 19:00. We had a lovely dinner (I had chicken risotto) and went back to the hotel and went straight to bed. In the morning we planned to have breakfast at the hotel which was lovely. For me it included crumpets, pancakes and part of a cooked English breakfast. Soon after, we left the hotel and went to the site where the race was (Torbay Velopark). As soon as we arrived I got signed on at around 9:00 am. After that, we set up, had a little walk around and tried to stay both dry and warm. The rain and sun were on and off so it was difficult to judge the conditions. I headed out for my sighting laps at 11:00am and the course included steps, running, sand (it was more puddles than sand though) and a lot of mud. The course didn’t really suit me because it was a very powerful course and a lot of “slogging” round. I took 2 laps to work out the course and find where I could make the most time on the other riders.

At 13:10 I hopped on the rollers and warmed up before making my way to the start line for a 13:45 start. I was gridded 32nd which was 4th row back. I knew the fast road start going straight into a “get off and run” section meant it was going to be carnage on the first few bends. I had a good start and was where I needed to be very soon in the race. I had a good battle with a couple of other riders but just got picked off by them in the end unfortunately. I pitted every 1 and a half laps so I could refresh and not be weighed down too much. Overall I finished 20th place and 9th first year which should hopefully mean I will be further up on the grid next time. Ultimately, I had a fantastic weekend and one to remember. 

I would really like to thank my dad and my club, Colchester Rovers, for their continued support as I pursue my dream of being successful at the National Trophy events.