Chris Hutchens is currently Scotland’s rising enduro star. Having cut his teeth in downhill and serving a long career at the sharp end of World Cup racing, he’s back on the international enduro scene looking to improve on a promising 2015.
Over the next few months, Hutch will be bringing us insights into his training and preparation, hopefully giving you some inspiration and ideas to improve your own skills and fitness for a better season.
Take it away Hutch!
I’ll be putting together a number of articles on how I look to approach races and how anyone out there can make improvements and achieve their aims. Firstly I’d hope as a rider who’s been competitive for over 15 years and raced at an Elite level since 2008 I could shed a little light on some of my experience and preparation, both in the off-season and during the race season. Secondly I’m like 99% of the riders and racers out there. I have a full time job and juggle racing around that.
I’ll start things off with a little bit my racing and training background. I started out on a hardtail, at the age of 10, in 2000 for my first race season in the Juvenile Category. After a few years I moved on to racing a full suspension Orange 222, winning the British Series and finished with a Bronze at the British Championships in Youth. Things got exciting in Junior with my first World Cups, travelling with coach Chris Ball, fellow Scottish rider Rhuaridh Cunningham and mechanic Rich Beard. It was also amazing to don a GB skin suit and race the World Championships in 2007. I signed with Mojo Suspension for the following season. This was my highlight season on the World Downhill circuit and the support these guys gave was amazing throughout. It was a great year with a lot of ups and down. From my career best 17th at a World Cup to crashing on the last corner in Mount Saint Anne and missing out on what looked like an even better result.
I continued to race World Cups with a varying degree of success until 2012, self-funded and on a shoe string budget, while completing my Masters in Engineering. Then this Enduro thing started to build momentum and after dabbling in a few races in 2013 I pulled a few things together for 2014 and made a plan for the season. This is when I started to really learn and appreciate what you need to do to become a great rider and racer. That season I focused on and won the Scottish Series. I also entered a few Enduro World Series events and found a flavour for the international circuit again. It’s competitive, relentless and unbelievably more challenging than anything else out there. Then my eyes went towards 2015 and a desire to race more of the World Series. So, after winning the Scottish Series I was eligible for early entry into the EWS. The only thing I didn’t realise though was that it would wipe my bank account. I entered six of them, maxing out my holidays plus some. To summarise 2015 in one word it would have to be progress. I set my own training plan up, worked in the gym with RGU Sport and noted my aims for the season. 28th at round 3 and 49th in the series exceeded my original aims but I was learning and improving. Although I know I’m capable of more putting realistic aims down given your situation is important in my eyes.
Your 2015 season is now over and you’ve had some time to reflect, enjoy some well-deserved beers and hang out with friends more. Unfortunately the Enduro season is long and arduous and next season is only 3 or 4 months away now. Ideally you will have thought about this already but if not there’s still time.
Sit down, grab a pen and paper and think about what went well last season, what didn’t go well and then why those limited you getting stoked about your race results. Most of us race to get a buzz, head off for the weekend with buddies and get a result!
What can you work on for next year to make you a better rider? For most out there it’s maybe just time on the bike. Getting more miles in before the event or going to a gym class during the week. I struggle with time on my mountain bike and usually only get out at the weekends. This limits me working on skills and technique and ultimately skills win races!
Maybe your bike failed you half way around the race route or you forgot to pack your recovery drink. Think about all of the aspects of your weekend and your riding which help to make it come together and meet your expectations. We all set them and unfortunately there’s often something limiting you meeting them. Figure out what it is and note it down. These will be the things you need to focus on for next year.
Good luck thinking back to last season. Everyone, even Jared Graves, Richie Rude, Aaron Gwin and Peaty have things they could do better. I wish I knew their secrets though!