Ben Tulett blog: cyclocross 2014/15
20 January 2015
Still an Under 14 youth rider, Ben Tulett has been a top-performer across multiple disciplines for many years. He went into the 2014/15 cyclocross season with clear ambition for success at national level.
Like his equally impressive brother Dan, Ben isn’t the kind of rider who makes a song and dance about his talent – he prefers to make his mark through his performances on the bike. And there’s rock-hard determination underneath his quiet, well-mannered public persona.
Ben kindly agreed to blog about his cyclocross season for YCS. His latest update covers his dramatic race at the National Championships – his biggest target of the season.
20 January 2015
National Championships preparation
It was the week of the National Cyclocross Championships: training had been going well recently and on the Sunday before it had been the last round of the National Trophy series. I won the race at Derby by 16 seconds and won the overall series title. I was pleased to win as this was one of my big aims for the season.
During the week running up to the National Champs weekend I rested most of the time and was starting to prepare for the race: early nights, eating healthy food and keeping healthy was important for me beforehand.
We travelled to Abergavenny where the race was taking place. I didn’t practice the course the day before my race because we knew that the course would be very different the following day. Instead of practicing the course I did an easy roller session in the hotel and went to bed early.
On race day we woke up at the hotel and went down to breakfast at 7:00 a.m.. I relaxed whilst eating as stress isn’t ideal before a race. I went to the course at 8:00 a.m. and practiced the course three times. I didn’t do many laps because I mainly practiced the technical sections of the course – these sections are ideal to practice as you can work out before the race which line you want to take.
With 35 minutes to go before the race I jumped on my rollers and did a good warm up for 20 minutes. I was mainly going easy but did a few efforts to warm my legs up.
I went down to the start with 15 minutes to go and I warmed up on the road. I didn’t stress on the start line as I was called up first and I was in a good position.
The race was on. I sat in second wheel the whole way up the start straight until the third corner where I put in a small effort to shake off a few riders. We then went into a technical banking which I rode up and accelerated away from to put pressure on other riders. Then I went into the twisty section of the course where I knew I was fastest, and I started to gain a gap here. At the end of this section there was an off-camber corner and I had a quote that my dad once told me going through my head: “commit to the rut”. I gained a big gap here just from not putting on the brakes, and letting the tyres grip the ground. I realised that it was time for me to go: I put in a big effort and accelerated away from everyone. I had a seven second lead after the first lap.
After the finish straight was another technical section where I gained another gap on the other riders. It then went into the hurdles where there was thick mud. On a banking going downhill I didn’t brake and I let the mud slow me down. At this stage my gap had grown to roughly 20 seconds. I put in another effort but then I had a problem with my back wheel and it locked up! I had to look at my bike and try to fix it for roughly two minutes.
Finally I thought I’d fixed it and hopped back onto the bike, but the rear mech was bent and again the back wheel wasn’t moving. I was anxious at this time and was trying not to stress but now I had to run one kilometre to the pits. While I was running everyone came past me and I was now in last place…
In the pits at last I got my other bike and I sped off – I wasn’t going to let this get to me, I wasn’t going to stop as I knew that I could still do well. I sped past people in anger and put in the biggest effort I think I’ve ever made. Every lap I was getting closer and closer to the leaders but it was too late. I came fifth in the end which I think was good after everything that had happened to me – it was probably the best ride of my life because I didn’t give up and I kept going. I was upset of course because the National Championship was the race that I’d always wanted to win. This won’t put me down though: it’ll only make me stronger and more determined to win next year and to win in MTB racing and on the road this season.
After the race
I was grateful after the race as I had my family and friends there to help me and to be there for me when I needed them. This really helped me to feel better because it didn’t go to plan at all. I’d like to say thanks to Mick and Sarah Bell for helping me at the end of the race along with good friend Jon Cannings who helped me pick my head back up after the race. I’d also like to thank Lewis, the owner of Beeline Bicycles, for collecting my kit at the end of the race. And thanks to everyone else who helped me after the race!
Finally, I’m pleased to announce that this year I will be riding for Beeline Bicycles. I’m incredibly grateful for everything that Hargroves Cycles has done but it’s time to move on. This year I’ll be riding Specialized bikes, and I’m happy to be back on Specialized for 2015.
22 December 2014
My early season
My season started off by doing Round 2 of The London Cyclocross League. Unfortunately for me I punctured within 200m of the start line but this didn’t worry me as my training had been going well recently. The following weekend it was Rounds 3 and 4 of the Eastern Cyclocross League series: I won both races including the Under 16 race on both days! I knew I was in great form at this point as I won both races convincingly.
This season I’ve switched cross bikes from a Specialized CruX to a Ridley X-Night. I get along well with the new bikes and I enjoy racing them. I think it was a positive move to Ridley but I would still be happy riding on a CruX again because they’re both great bikes.
The last two National Trophies
I’m the leader of the National Trophy series and it’s now impossible for anyone to beat me. This is a great achievement for this year as it was one of my biggest goals. In recent races at Milton Keynes and Bradford I managed to build leads of over one and a half minutes at both rounds – I’ve really hit the nail on the head this season!
This cyclocross season has been going really well for me. Everything seems to be clicking into place and this is certainly aided by my training and race preparations. What does that mean? Well, I’ve got fantastic parents that support me in my journey of cycling and an older brother to push me in training.
A typical week of training in the CX season includes one or two turbo trainer sessions per week, and a session under floodlights at Sutton. The outdoor session at Sutton includes race-like scenarios and this means I can practice techniques at full speed and under pressure.
My school is very supportive of my cycling. They allow me to do cross-country running instead of rugby, football, etc.. This helps, especially when you have a very muddy course which means running is required.
On the day before a race I try not to use up too much energy. I have bundles of it, so this is quite difficult! But I understand the need to be fresh for a race.
Who I admire
My biggest idol in cross at the moment is Wout Van Aert. He rides for Golden Palace which is fast becoming the biggest cross team in the world. It’s a dream of mine to ride for them one day and to be as good as Wout is at the age of 20! Wout is the current leader of the BPost Bank Trophy and he won the Koksijde World Cup by over a minute. He’s 20 years old and is already proving himself to be the best in the world!