Ian Field Interview
Ian Field Interview 2013
We talk to Ian Field of Hargroves Cycles the current and two time British National CycloCross Champion.
You are the current National Champion after successfully defending your title for the second time. We remember the year before when you missed out at Derby and afterward looked despondent. How did you recover from that disappointment?
Ian: To be honest, I went out and smashed it the next day in training. I then went and finished 15th the following weekend at a World Cup and for me at the time that went some way to make up for things. I’m not one to get too down for too long, I think it helps having the people I do around me. My family and girlfriend are so supportive with what I do they always know what to say or do to get me back on track.
When you won your first title you were in tears, did the champion’s jersey really mean that much to you and why?
Ian: Yes, that was a huge deal for me. It had got to the point where it was just really getting to me that I couldn’t seem to get it right on the day or I was mucking it up! It was a huge goal for me that season and to win a national title when both Liam (Killeen) and Roger (Hammond) were there was really special.
Why cyclo-cross? What attracts you to this side of cycling?
Ian: I think I have always loved cyclocross the most as its the form of cycling that I got into first. Its the combination of out and out fitness with the specific skills needed to be an all round bike rider. You can not have one without the other if you want to get to the top of the sport. There are tactics involved but 9 times out of 10 the strongest person wins which is also an attraction to me.
You spend so much of the year in Belgium taking on the world’s best in their own backyard. Why do you do this?
Ian: I have always wanted to see how good I could be at cycling and this means racing the best guys week in week out. At first it was to bring me on rather than ‘race’ them. Simply staying on the lap was the goal which I always have achieved since I first went out to Belgium. Now I am racing with the top guys breaking into the top 20 consistently and so things take on a different outlook. I’m now really looking at cracking the top 10 in a big race, this is a further goal for myself. If I had stayed in the UK I would always have been left wondering what if. When I finish know I will know how good I was, result sheets don’t lie.
What’s great about Belgium and what isn’t so good?
Ian: The passion for cyclocross is like no other country in the world. Its a crazy place to be a bike rider. I really enjoy the racing there but the living part there can be a bit tedious. It’s pretty quiet and a good distance from family and friends. However this means that when I am there I am focused on the job in hand and want to be the best I can be, doing everything correctly as I am making so many sacrifices to be there there is no point mucking around when I am.
You are an established rider on the international/Belgium scene, ‘Field de Brit’ is almost your catchphrase. Do you feel that you have been excepted by riders, organisers and cross fans?
Ian: I would like to think so. I am a regular face at the races and have been for a good number of seasons now. I know all the riders reasonably well even if we don’t talk all that much, but a nod and a Hi is enough. Cross and cycling in general is all about respect between competitors and earning that has taken time. It comes with results and riding sensibly when you have that opportunity at the front of races.
For some the Belgian race scene can be seen as a hostile environment, almost football like in how the races are viewed. Cross fans there can be very tribal but when I have seen you racing on the continent you get a good cheer from all the fans whether they are hard-core Albert or Nys followers. How do you view the Belgian scene?
Ian: For sure there are the hard core fans who have their favourites, however away from the top 4-5 riders the other riders seem to get good support from the crowd and for some reason I get more than my fair share. I don’t know if that is because I am English or maybe the fact I have been going back year after year and the fans have been able to see me progress. Which ever it is I will take it as it makes the racing so much easier and a nicer place to be!
Is each year a search for that extra metre of pace with the intention to be on wheel of Albert and the rest? How much pressure does this put on you?
Ian: I don’t really feel too much pressure racing at the highest level of the sport, I see each race as a huge opportunity to perform and show what I can do against those guys. On paper they should beat me, in many ways its easier being the underdog.
You are shining a light for British cyclocross/cycling in Belgium/ Would you agree and do you hope that others will follow your example?
Ian: I don’t know about that quite yet but more and more people are telling me about how they are watching the races live on the net in the UK. Telling me how they are always looking out for me and its much more enjoyable having a ‘Brit’ to cheer on nearer the front of races this season. I would also like to think this shows the younger riders who maybe in the past have thought it an impossibility for a ‘Brit’ to break into the top 20-15 in the World that it is a realistic goal, why not surpass what I am doing?
CycloCross has exploded in the USA in popularity, where you raced in 2012/13, and in the UK it is also booming at local level. Do you have any insight why this is the case?
Ian: It’s such an accessible form of racing. It’s great for kids and a family day out with a low risk of injury and there isn’t the fear of ‘being dropped’. Just riding some Cross courses puts a smile on your face, it comes down to being fun. That’s why I started and ultimately why I continue.
Some of the Belgian courses look pretty scary how do you set yourself to riding them? On that general theme how do you prepare yourself for each race? What are the key elements in prep?
Ian: With my history in MTB I don’t really find anything ‘scary’ on any Cross courses. In fact I love the courses where others find stuff scary. One of my favourites is Zonhoven with the massive sand descents, I get a real buzz out of riding them. I prepare for each race in the same methodical way on race day. Every minute is taken care of from the minute I wake up on a race day to pretty much going to bed. I have been a lot more professional with my outlook and what I have done this season and it seems to be making the difference. The key elements in preparation is being organised. Packing all the correct clothing, equipment, food and drink for the weekend. Not leaving anything to chance! Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
We assume that your main objective for the season is to claim a third National title, yes? How do you see your career developing?
Ian: I have a number of goals for this season and it might be surprising to some that the national title isn’t at the top of the list but if I achieve all my other goals that one will come. I have always said all the time I am moving forward and improving as a rider I will continue. I simply want to see how far I can get in this sport.
Is there any advice you could give to cross riders?
Ian: Practice practice practice. Skills are so important and often over looked within cyclocross. Its free speed and time if you can clear an obstacle cleanly or corner faster than anyone else. Enjoy every training session and race as much as possible because as I said earlier that is ultimately why we do this! It’s too hard a sport to do if you are not enjoying it.
Ian wins at round 4 of the National Trophy 2013
Ian claims his first of two National titles