After dominating B grade last year, Aron Barclay has made the move to A grade for the 2018 Element Road Series.
The Midland Cycle Club rider will be racing the remainder of the Chidlow events and most of the rest of the series.
There are two metro races remaining for the series in Chidlow on 8 July and August 5, with the latter to also part of the National Junior Road Series for under 15s and 17s.
The caught up with Aron ahead of the final two races of the Chidlow Series for some tips as well as what it is like to move up A grade.
He speaks about the Chidlow course, some tips on how to ride it, the difference between A and B men as well as the race he enjoys most in the series.

Element: Tell us about the Chidlow course and some tips on how to ride it?

Aron: The course is hard and while it doesn’t have any pivotal moments (e.g. Pump Hill in Pemberton) on the course it does have climbs that slowly wear down the peloton which makes this a race of attrition that can be made worse by aggressive racing. The course also keeps you busy on the bike because you are either climbing, descending or turning corners/bends that means people can often forget about eating/drinking. My suggestion is to eat about 10 minutes before the climb starts so the food has a chance to be digested and gives you a ‘boost’ for the climb. If you struggle to remember to eat and drink, place something on the Garmin or handlebar to remind you to eat and drink.

E: With a race like this with hills, how do you manage your energy?

A: In a race like this I would always do my best to start the climb at the start of the peloton so you can ride a constant effort rather than at the back where you are more likely to be slowing up and speeding up costing you crucial energy. Also if you aren’t a very good climber starting at the front of a climb is even more crucial because than you can ‘sag’ the climb where you start at the front and drift towards the back of the peloton during the climb. This effectively means you can climb around 10 – 15 seconds slower than everyone else while remaining in touch with the peloton.

E: What do you like about the Chidlow course?

A: I like the whole course as it is well-balanced and it provides something for everyone. The climbs aren’t so steep that the sprinters get dropped quickly but are steep enough so that the climbers can make sprinters hurt and if raced aggressively enough drop the sprinters. This enables aggressive racing as the climbers try to break the sprinters and the sprinters try and hang in the bunch. In essence, it has something for everyone.

E: What other races are you looking forward to in the 2018 Element Road Series?

A: I am really looking forward to the York Cycling Festival on the first weekend of September as I think it offers something for everyone with the hill climb for the climbers, the road race for the hard men and the crit for the sprinters so whoever wins that weekend is probably one of the most well-rounded riders in WA and deserves the win.

E: After taking out B grade comprehensively last season, you have made the transition to A grade. How have you seen the move in the road races this season, have you had to do or change anything?

A: A grade and B grade are raced very differently. A graders tend to race more like the Europeans do. They let a break go up the road while a team/s or group of riders control the break and bring them back with 10 – 20km to go than the real racing starts. There is a lot of attacking which means being strong at the end of the race is crucial if you want to factor in A grade. In B grade there is generally a lot of attacking to get into the break at the start then it simmers down sometime with no break formed and then they race along for the majority of the race than a few small attacks towards the end that tend to not get very far as everyone is very nervous. Then it comes down to a bunch sprint. I learnt that I had to be more aware of the teams, as while there are no teams in B grade there are plenty of teams in A grade that use their numbers to influence the race. I had to change the way I raced in A grade as I had to be more patient and ‘read ‘ the race better and play of the team’s tactic so I can get a result.

E: For a rider looking to train or enter a race like Chidlow, what are your tips?

A: For riders who are just starting out my advice would be to find a good group ride where they push you along to get fitter but also assist with your group riding skills. I often see riders not winning or doing as well as they could not because they are not fit enough, but because they don’t know how to ride in a group effectively and save crucial energy. Club rides like Midland Cycle Club or South Perth Rouleurs run these sort of rides but a good bike shop will also run these rides. For riders who already have these basic group skills, I would recommend finding a local climb that is between 5-8 minutes long with 5 minutes rest between effort and do it 5 times. This is a good session as it mimics how long the climb will be and It also gives you just enough rest to recover from each effort while stressing the body enough to force improvements from the body.

The next event on the calendar is Chidlow II. Enter the race HERE

Header photo by Zac Williams, story photo by Cycliq.