Ian Fields National Championship Blog
Double British Champion sounds pretty good and to be honest it is still sinking in. I went so many years being a favourite or at least one of the front runners leading up to the Championship race and I had never even got a podium for one reason or another. Now having won two in a row just feels strange, a good strange but still strange!
This season was not going to plan at all in fact in my head I was struggling, I had started the season well in America and then hadn’t managed to convert any real (to me) results in Europe at the big races. I had some near misses but a bit of bike trouble here and there had cost me. To round things off just before my crucial two week mid-season training camp in Spain I dislocated my shoulder at the Roubaix round of the World Cup. This left me in a sling for five days and not allowed to ride outside for a total of eleven days, when I did get back on the bike it was a further three weeks until I could ride off road again.
I had some tough decisions to make with how the rest of my season would play out so decided to come home and spend the time off the bike with family and friends back in the UK. Once I was able to train again I put everything into the time I had left to get myself ready for the National Champs, due to my injury I decided to skip the heavy race period in Belgium over Christmas gambling away a lot of start money for the hope I would be fit for Nationals and to give my shoulder the extra time needed for it to be 100%. Returning too early could have led to another dislocation and for sure the end of my season. I had to be sensible and with the helpful advice of those around me in hindsight I definitely made the correct decisions. Spending Christmas and New year at home was a pleasant change from the norm and I made full use of it training hard in a happy environment.
Finally race day came, Bradford had been good to me in the past and it is where I won my first National Trophy in Hargroves colours! The muddy slippery conditions suited me down to the ground and having been able to travel up well in advance and stay with my girlfriend’s family all week in a super relaxed environment made a big difference. I knew a good start would be crucial and so it proved, I followed my ever fast starting team mate Jody Crawforth off the line. At this point I would like to say I think Jody’s ride at the weekend got seriously over looked having been back on the back for only two and a half weeks coming back from a broken leg for me this was one of the rides of the day in such strength sapping conditions. After only a couple of corners I made my way past Jody and he said for me to go as we already had a slight gap. I pressed on for the next half a lap to establish a gap and to see what was happening behind, in the slippery conditions I prefer to be out in front and picking my own line through the corners. I could also dictate the pace from here. I was riding technically well and so was forcing the issue on the off camber sections and fast turns of the course trying to make up what I call free time in the non pedalling sections.
My lead started to grow steadily lap after lap then the first challenger from the chase group showed his hand. David Fletcher escaped the chase group and obviously got his head down to try and bridge across, I know David from my MTB days and I know the talent he has. You don’t podium at a Junior MTB Worlds without it. He closed the gap from 30secs down to around 15 before I started to hurt myself on some of the long drags the course had. The gap started to go out again and I could relax slightly. Just as the course was beginning to make itself felt in my legs the next chaser launched themselves into action. Ian Bibby, the guy is coming off a full European road season with a pro conti team he is going to have strength and speed in abundance and being a previous Cross National Champion was always going to be a big threat and despite not having done much Cross I knew before the start he would be a main rival. I dug in but still the gap fell, it got to 9secs at one point and I was just about to sit up with a lap to go and have a few deep breaths when after the off camber downhill section suddenly the gap had increased again. I hammered the remaining part of the lap up the long road climb staying out of the saddle all the way up forcing myself to go harder just in case I slipped up in the last half a lap. I didn’t. I had time to celebrate in front of a noisy and good size crowd taking the win by just under half a minute by the end over Bibby who pulled out a classy ride. I was relieved, Job done. Happy.
There are literally so many people to thank especially this season. Parents, Mark, Nat, Harry and family, Nick founding member of the supporters club, Colonel training partner and friend, Smiler security and head coach, my poor Girlfriend Annabel who has to put up with my stress, Mark Walker for all his training advice and scientific knowledge. Jim and Simon for being there.
All the sponsors play a massive role in making this possible year after year Hargroves Cycles, Trant, Chapmans, Elliotts, Next communications, pace electrical services, Warwick Martel, Specialized, Shimano, Kalas, Prendas, Pro, Selle San Marco, Finish Line, High 5 and MD Flooring make up one of the most successful teams in the UK which I am very proud to be apart of.
Here is to another 12months in the UK National Champions Jersey!!