We're getting really excited about round 2 of the National XC Series at Newnham Park, and we hope you are too. For those of you who have not been to Newnham for a while, here's a glimpse of what we have been preparing for you.
The following doubles up as a glimpse of all the sections you'll want to have a close look at during practice, and our risk assessment document.
There are of course plenty of lovely smooth descents, killer climbs and even some flat sprinty sections - but they don't come out well on camera, so here are the bits where all the spectators will be gathering! There will be 'B' and sometimes 'C' lines around all of the sections below.
I think it was a forum post on xcracer.com that did it for us. One of those classic rants that was probably triggered by a day of reading the Daily Mail, listening to Jeremy Vine and watching Top Gear box-sets. This poor unfortunate ended his nonsensical tirade with the immortal line 'Sort it out B.C.!' Since then, whenever anything goes a bit numberwang in our lives; be it losing my keys, stubbing my toe or having a soggy souffle, we sum up our anguish by chorusing "SORT IT OUT B.C.!"
For most cyclists, their only contact with British Cycling will either be trying to squeeze into an event car park past the massed ranks of the B.C. logo-ed staff cars, or being bullied by a stern faced commissaire fun-sponge, dedicating his day to dishing out corporal punishment on any rider daring to ride without handlebar plugs or with a Go-Pro.
Delve deeper into the beast, attend a B.C. meeting / conference / day-care and your worst fears will be realised but at least you'll finally know what happened to the cast of Dad's Army and go away wondering how the hell we ever won a cycling gold medal in anything other than penny farthing racing.
But you're looking in the wrong place, idiot. Grow a pair, do your duty as a decent human being and go volunteer as a coach in your local cycling club. Cue huge stampede of people like Pavlov's dogs triggered by the 'V' word, absolutely guaranteed to clear a room faster than a vegetarian's fart. But if by chance your smartphone allows you a bit of time off during the week, and you find yourself immersed in the world of club cycle coaching, here you will find the beating heart and beauty of British Cycling. You don't need to be a world-famous detective to figure out that we volunteer in our local youth cycling club, and as well as being a cast-iron gold ticket to entry to the Pearly Gates on judgment day, it's a awful lot of muddy fun.
There are a million different levels of coaching in the B.C. repertoire, from little rippers on balance bikes to great big shaved leg quadzillas on top of an Olympic podium. As a married man of 14 years I am well aware of my place in the hierachy and I belong down near the bottom of the pyramid with the kids trampling over me to get to the top. Within this programme there exists a series of coaching events called the Regional Schools of Racing (RSRs). Never heard of them? I'm not surprised. B.C. don't tend to defend itself from the endless stream of moans from B.C.-haters, they just quietly get on with the task of creating an awesome clone army of young bike racers. Under the radar, invite only, secret handshake.
We just came back from such an event, where we took a couple of our young club riders for a day of B.C. moulding. Remember the film Logan's Run where all the old 'uns are systematically eliminated by the young, shiny, virile members of society? Go to a gathering of the up-coming MTB starlets and you'll see the writing on the wall. Watch them bunny hop over hurdles that you can barely step your arthritic hips over, then realise that they are doing it with their eyes closed and it's clear that the sport is moving faster than we can pedal.
The RSRs are run by top-level BC coaches, with assistance (interference) from us club coaches, who are mainly there for crowd control and making tea. In the sessions, all those tricks and skills that most of us spend long hours avoiding like the plague are repeated until a state of either unconscious competence or dribbling lethargy are achieved. Then they do it again. I remember reading about some indigenous people, probably the Welsh, who believed that sculptors releases the animal / whatever that is already contained within a chunk of rock by chipping away at the superfluous rock. I don't really need to spell out the analogy, but over time these kids are transformed from bloody fast kids into lightning fast mountain bike ninjas. Every aspect of their lives are discussed, analysed and streamlined to make them the most professional, efficient athletes they can be while still retaining the 'buggering about on bikes' aspect. Think Top Gun meets Lord of the Flies on bikes.
So when some impudent young rider rips your legs off at the next race (and they will) rest assured that British Cycling are, indeed, 'sorting it out'.