Rider Diary: Sue Clarke Part 6


Rider Diary: Sue Clarke
Interview with Sue Clarke - Brand New Sue
- July 2009

Racing cross country and representing Great Britain since 1994 when she rode as a Junior in the World Mountain Bike Championships, Sue Clarke has been British Champion, competed in the Commonwealth Games and is now making a return to top level racing with help from husband and XC racing legend, Barrie Clarke. To find out all about Sue read her feature-length interview, and get the latest from her comeback right here.


November 9 2009
From Crashed, To Cross

Since I ended the mountain bike season at Roc D'Azur in mid October I have gone through a 'transitional period'. This last month I have had some much needed time at home recuperating after a pretty heavy travel and race schedule. This has left me feeling refreshed and raring to go in terms of training and some cross racing.

I have kept active hiking with Barrie & our dog Charlie, biking with the Lakes RC, mountain biking and even some rowing on Lake Windermere!

It has still been a busy time trying to catch up with friends and family. I also signed with www.WHEELBASE.co.uk/Cannondale for cyclocross races. I took delivery of two Cannondale CX9 bikes last week. Complete with full Ultegra, FSA carbon cranks and tidy Fulcrum Racing wheelset, these are an excellent addition to my cross campaign.

On the Wheelbase team I join friends Rob Jebb and Stuart Reide among others in what is a very close knit, friendly team. With the backing of managers Toby and Chris and hands on help from Stuarts Dad Billy (jetwash pro!), other shop staff members and of course my ever supportive Barrie, I hope to claim some good results this cross season.

I will race on Schwalbe tyres, courtesy of Chris from Bohle UK. Much needed 'Mucoff' from Alex Trimnall is again provided; I just know this is going to come in very handy this season! Nutrition is supplied by SIS who have provided me with much needed support for many years. Thanks guys!

I have already had several photo shoots these past few weeks, which has not been an easy task in the wet weather we have been experiencing. But they have been fun none the less. It is just a shame that the National Trophy started in September when I was still racing the World Cup season, as I now have no hope of regaining my Trophy series title. However, with two Trophy events remaining and the National Championships there are still opportunities for victories along the way.

Plans that I have set in place for improvements over the winter months are starting to take shape. I have been lucky enough to be supplied with a Powertap from Paligap, thanks to Andy Mee. I will start to train with this vital tool this week and my data will be analysed by Dr G. Wright along with improvements recorded. I will also be completing regular max tests this winter, something which I have never done.

Besides the sorting of all the new kit, Barrie and I have been spending some time visiting trail centres to hone my skills in this area, as many of the circuits on the mountain bike scene are now making use of these types of trails and it is something we are a bit short of here in the Lakes. Trips to Afan and Innerleithen are also planned in the coming weeks.

This last weekend was a busy one. It was my Dads seventieth birthday on Saturday, so we tied in a cross race in Liverpool with a family celebration. There can't be many seventy year olds who receive a set of weights for their birthday, but my Dad was one of them! If I am in anywhere near as good shape as he is at that age I will be a very happy lady indeed. He celebrated his big day by dishing it out to many a younger rider at the Otterspool cross with me and Barrie. Organised and designed by Liverpool Century RC, this event was worthy of National status, however the prize money was not. Being a full time athlete trying to earn a living through my sport it is a bit of a blow to morale when you come in front of 89 riders, only to receive your entry fee back at the finish. In National Trophy events this is also an area that I feel needs to be vastly improved for women in this area. This season has seen an all time low of elite women's entries and everyone is scratching their heads. Is it not obvious to these organisers that our top 'cross women based in Belgium have no incentive to come and race our national events? Whatever happened to female equality?

Anyway, back to the racing itself and despite heavy rain leading up to the event, we were treated to a fast and challenging course right on the Mersey waterfront. I was pleasantly surprised to quickly get into the swing of things, despite a heavy week of training. I finished first lady and eighth overall from 97 starters. Barrie placed fourth overall & second veteran. He reckons this is done on memory :0)

I can vouch he did 1hr20 of 'training' last week in the form of a steady night ride with me. How annoying is that?! However, I made full use of his cross abilities, taking in a 'cross masterclass' around the course before our race. It is not hard to see how his skills took him to numerous national cross and MTB titles.

After a fun family get together that saw me being worn out by my three nephews' dancing, we made our way back up north. Sunday felt like 'Groundhog Day' again competing in the NW cross league, at Brockhole right on the shore of Lake Windermere. A beautiful venue that was quite unique. Organiser Paul Loftus, his family and friends did an excellent job running the event. We were treated to a total mud fest in the Lake District visitors centre.

Hopefully Paul will be successful in his bid to secure a national trophy event here next year. I was pleased to be able to race in front of a home crowd and received tons of support from friends and team mates. I was first lady (and suitably rewarded, thanks Lofty) but a bit further back in the overall than yesterday, with the week catching up with me somewhat.

Barrie did a flier and elected to run the muddy start, which proved to be the right decision as he was first into the opening corner! He went from strength to strength, claiming second place and first veteran behind my team mate Rob Jebb who was in his element in the muddy running sections. All entry fees were put back into prizes for all categories, something that was greatly appreciated by all riders.

Many washes later of bikes and kit and we are back on track after being fully immersed in the cross scene this weekend, literally. Charlie pup is wasted by the fire with the rest of us after a busy, muddy weekend but it was all great fun.

Until next time, enjoy your riding wherever it takes you!