Becky Preece is always cold. With 10 - 15 hours of training per week, plus her job walking 10miles a day as a postie, it seems like no amounts of hot showers and cups of tea can have any lasting effect on the deep-rooted freeze that seems to come with being a crazy cyclo-cross racer! A winter sport where racers are expected to ride their bikes through sloppy mud, deep sand, hard frosted ground and then get off and carry the thing up steep hills and flights of steps with no rest, Becky explains why anyone would want to do this..."it´s absolutely brutal"
Come on Becky, sell it. Does anyone actually enjoy it?
"It´s the craziness of it, the atmosphere, it´s one of the best sports I think for spectating. The competitiveness, the fact you can get off your bike and run with it, I just think it´s mental."
With an elevation pitch like that, it´s hard not to think that Becky must be a bit of a nut job herself to be honest. She is a 25 year old elite cyclo-cross racer in the Hope Team, having discovered the discipline via her cycling club when she was already into MTB. She loved it from her first ever race on a borrowed bike. As time went on she evolved from primarily being an XC mountain bike racer with a bit of cross on the side, to getting better and better results and realising that cyclo-cross was destined to be her main thing because she enjoyed it more...which made her better at it. That positive cycle thing that keeps coming up in our Hopetech Women chats with successful riders.
Having had experience in both MTB and cyclo-cross, Becky maintains that the latter discipline is the one with the friendliest people, combined with the lack of pressure she feels at races it has become the world she loves and thrives in. Whatever your take on the community, there is definitely something to be said for cyclo-cross racing being a welcoming beacon for people who are new to bike racing. It undeniably has a relaxed atmosphere in terms of cliques and just turning up on whatever bike you can get your hands on and even if you have none of the cool, trippy gear, no-body will make you feel like an outsider. Another great thing about it is that after 2 minutes off the start line, the course is total carnage and it´s basically impossible for anyone watching to work out what position anyone is in. So for self-conscious starters (hello every first-time racer ever), it is a great way to hide from embarrassment and get lost in giving it a go. Here at Hopetech women, our recommendation for trying a bike race out would be to head to a local cyclo-cross.
Talking of getting into racing, Becky managed to get her boyfriend to give one a go, even though he doesn´t ride a bike at all. And by all accounts "he absolutely loved it". We love that Becky is bucking the trend of boyfriends getting their girlfriends into cycling and she has turned it on it´s head. Nice one!
I wanted to know if Becky has any females idols or mentors. Her main inspiration however, is actually Hope rider Nick Craig "I´ve always looked up to him as an idol. But also Annie Simpson, she used to ride for Hope too and I always watched her and thought she was incredible and always so kind and friendly and she showed me a lot of things."
AG: "Is it like that in cyclo-cross? Is there competitive camerarderie?"
BP: "I defintely have friendlship groups. Like, in a race you´re very on your own but after the race you´re all like, pally. But I dunno, I´ve never been like that with any other people I race, I´ve always been friendly with them. I really enjoy racing"
AG: "Yeah and I guess cyclo-cross isn´t a team race, so you can´t form those team bonds..."
BP: "Aah, no, no definitely not. But when you´re pre-riding the course you all go together and like, help each other out and show each other the lines."
AG: "That´s super cool! Do you train together?"
BP: "If we lived closer, I´d love to, yeah!"