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ON THE DROPS INTERVIEW WITH RICH MAGUIRE

You won't necessarily see Rich's name plastered all over the very tops of the leaderboard throughout the London x League CX season (that is a realm most of us only dream of). But if you could quantify passion and put it into some sort of order, Richard Maguire would wipe the floor with the hundred or so other names in the list. He'd then remount his bike with unparalleled elegance and stomp off up the road.

Living, working, and riding out of Brighton, Rich is a friend of HUNT's, and races for the local squad Generation Press CC (the same team that Ollie Gray, Hunt Brand Manager for Road and CX, and Dan Clark, Technical & Dispatch, race for). Such is Rich's deep love for the quirky and oft-weird discipline, he actually runs his own training sessions on Thursday nights, seeking to improve technique and skill.

We caught up with Rich to discuss all things 'cross, and had great fun getting under the skin of what makes this guy tick.

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Cross is here

Name: Richard

Age: 33

Born and Bred: Essex

 

Ice breaker – describe yourself in three words. 

Happy when muddy

 

First bike and favourite bike? 

First bike was a hand-me-down Raleigh Mustang MTB complete with plastic brake levers and gears that never worked. We lived in the country and my favorite thing to do with it was flick in between the trees near our house, race up the short inclines and ride the berms made by the tractor tyres. 

My favourite bike is the one I'm riding, I love all the bikes I own. Each one is different, has its own strengths and weaknesses and exploring those is what makes riding so much fun. Having said that, on a good day, it's really hard to beat the simplicity of the single speed 'cross bike.

 

Finish this sentence: Climbing on my bike is...a privilege. 

It's a cliche to say it but I feel very lucky to be able to ride as often as I do. 

 

Let’s not beat around the bush, you are Mr CX around these here parts. Your passion for the sport is unrivalled and everyone knows it. When did it start and where did it come from?

I have a competitive itch that I have to scratch and Bike Polo used to satisfy that but after I stopped playing I noticed I needed something. I stumbled across an article about cyclocross and I was instantly hooked by the aesthetic, heritage and format of racing. I had some parts in a box so I bought a Dolan Multi-X framset and signed up mid season for the now infamous Sumners Pond race. 

After what was probably the worst hour of my life I couldn't wait for next week to see how I could improve. I think anyone who races 'cross gets the same feeling. Its an hour of pain and discomfort that is unlike anything else on a bike, you can't wait for it to be over, and when it is, you can't wait for next week.

 

What's so great about racing 'cross?

It's the inclusiveness. There are races for under 10s right up to 50+. The format also means that anyone can have a go. It's not like road racing where, once you're dropped, your race is over. The format allows you to race those at your level and have a really decent battle, even if you're well down the overall order. The gridding system means that riders faster than you are ahead so you don't get bunched and feel like you're in the way if you're only dipping your toe. The London X League has an incredible timing system too which means you can analyse your race and check how close you are to your rivals. It also means you can track your improvements across the season and against last year.

I think the best thing about it overall is the community of enthusiasts that support it. It takes a huge amount of time and resources to put a race on and those involved in it do it for the joy of the sport. There are so many unsung heroes that donate huge amounts of time helping support local racing and it's that love and dedication to the sport which make it unique and so enjoyable.

 

What’s your best memory on a ‘cross bike?

There are so many but I think it has to be last year, riding the downs at sunrise on a frozen December morning. Just the sound of our tyres crunching the frozen grass and throwing rooster tails of ice behind us, then watching the sun rise over Seven Sisters. That was pretty magic.

 

…and your worst?

It sort of tied for best memory too. That first race at Sumners Pond, it was a grueling and humbling experience. I don't think I had ever put my body through something like that before. 

 

Favourite CX course feature and why?

Fast dismounts and remounts. From quite early on I got some great training from Brighton Excelsior in their weekly 'cross sessions and I managed to practice that so much it's now second nature. I can make a good 10 to 15 seconds a lap on those around me just through getting off and on the bike again. 

 

…and least?

Anything that involves extended running. Running the length of a wooded section which is too muddy to ride? No. No thanks

 

Tell us a bit more about Generation Press CC?

GPCC is there to bring friends who like to race bikes together with a structure to support that ambition. The support can mean lifts to races, helping sort your bike for race day or someone there on the day shouting your name and getting you to dig deeper. We all have a shared passion and we're there to help each other achieve our goals. I am certain I wouldn't have got the results I did in my road season this year without that support and encouragement.  

 

CX or otherwise, what grinds your gears?

I guess its the changing way people engage with the sport. Measuring experience and enjoyment on a bike with KOMs and average speeds is not something that excites me. I understand it's a really useful tool for measuring progress and quantifying what you're feeling on the bike, especially if you're training, but for some it seems to be the be all and end all of being on a bike. The whole 'if it's not on Stava it doesn't count' mentality is all wrong in my opinion. If you can feel that sense of joy in movement that's unique to riding a bike, then that is all that matters.

Nothing grinds my gears about 'cross, it's fucking ace.

 

Finally, let’s end with a decent crash/injury story, because we love those…

I think race crashes are the most enjoyable. Trying to get to the edge of your ability and staying there often means things go wrong, especially when you're getting tired. The most memorable crash for me was at Frylands Wood in 2016. Coming into a short muddy drop just before a section of hairpins I got routed by a rut in the mud and was flung off the bike and over the tape. I just missed a tree and supermaned into a bush below the course. It was the collective 'OOOH' from the spectators that I remember most. Luckily I only suffered a bruised shoulder and managed to remount without it impacting my lap time too much.