A junior’s first taste of World Cup cyclocross action. Dylan Kerfoot-Robson reports.

Dylan Kerfoot-Robson has been racing Raleigh’s RX Race cyclocross bike this season. The Raleigh RX Race took Dylan to glory in the Welsh National Championship and second place in the British Nationals, which was enough for him to be selected for the World Championship race in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. Dylan writes…

It began on Tuesday last week (January 28th) as I met the rest of the GB team in Warrington. We spent all day Wednesday travelling out, arriving an hour before dinner, giving us just enough time to have a quick spin on the rollers to get some of the journey out of our legs.

Thursday started with an easy road ride to loosen up our legs and then after lunch we headed to the course for the first time. The scale of everything was so much bigger and better than anything in the UK. There were even people out cheering us on our training rides!

The organisers wanted to preserve the course for as long as possible so we weren’t able to ride some parts, which was just as well as by the end of the practice session some sections were already muddy and heavily furrowed. I had a minor hiccup in training and my rear mech ended up going through my rear wheel but huge thanks to the GB mechanics as my bike was back up and running with a new hanger and rear mech by the next morning.
ImageFriday was the day before my race so it was a day where rest was extremely important, but I also needed to give my legs a wake up call and do what I refer to as my ‘activator’. The full course was open and we could ride the lines we would in the race. I spent the morning on course running sprint and hard tempo sessions and working out racing lines at race pace. I was having a lot of fun but had to end it before I got too tired so I spent the remainder of the afternoon lying on my bed with my legs up.

Before I knew it Saturday’s race was upon us. We arrived on the course at 9am and I headed straight out. There had been a lot of overnight rain so there were now big sections of boggy mud and some of the section that you could easily ride the day before were now slimy mud runs. This was a bit annoying for me as I am not the best runner and prefer to spend as much time on the bike as possible. After that lap I let my tyre pressures down but I didn’t want to go too soft as there were a few sections where it was possible to puncture.

With accurate precision us four GB juniors got on the turbo trainers at 10:12 and got off at exactly 10:32 giving us time to get to the start for 10:45. We had to leave plenty of time as there were thousands of spectators in the way. We arrived at the start with enough time to spin up and down the start straight a few times before being called up for gridding. I was gridded 34th but that doesn’t really mean that much as everyone just squeezes forwarded into the small sized gap possible.

The race was started by the traffic light system but this time unlike Namur I knew what to do and when. So I got a good start over the first 100 metres or so before being caught up behind a big crash that allowed maybe the top 10-15 riders to get away. There were about 10 people on the floor and a big group held up by the crash, me being one of them.

I struggled mentally to get into the race after that. I was making up a few places over the rest of the first lap but I was also making silly mistakes. Coming into the pits for the first time on the second lap, I made a huge mistake which I can only put it down to nerves and inexperience. I entered the pits and missed the GB pit box! And as of the 1st of January this year the new UCI ruling is that you have to exchange equipment in the pits, so I knew as I rode out of the pits on the same bike as I went in on that I was disqualified. A huge disappointment and it threw me for the rest of the race. Not how I wanted my first ever World Championships to go but I now will put that behind me and move forward.

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I continued the rest of the race maintaining my position but kept making silly mistakes and I crashed again and was so annoyed with myself. I came across the line and was pulled aside by the commissaries. They said “you know what you have done yes?.” There was no use arguing with them as it wasn’t going to do me any favours. We shook hands and I headed off to the team area. I was kicking myself inside.

I had to put the experience behind me quickly as we had to get showered, changed and out of the team area so the elite women could gearing up for their race in the afternoon. Being a spectator in the Dutch maelstrom quickly took my mind off the morning’s race. Frites, mayo and tens of thousands of spectators (a few of whom were unable to walk they were so drunk!) and a medal in the elite women race all made the afternoon one to remember.

coffee-waffles
Getting back to the hotel we had a small end of season blow out, eating an amazing dinner (as we weren’t racing the next day I didn’t have to stick to the pasta and sauce), and then finding the spa. We spent the evening swapping between the Jacuzzi, sauna, massage chair and the steam shower. Rock and roll lifestyle it ain’t!

That was my last race of this year’s Cyclocross season and although it was far from ideal final race, I can’t complain as this season has been amazing. I hope to now continue this success into the Mountain Bike season and I am extremely excited to be supported by Haibike UK this season racing upon their Greed Team 29.

I would like to thank Raleigh for supporting me this cyclo cross season it has been an honour to ride for such a prestigious brand.

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