Photo: Eoghan Maguire
1. Can you introduce yourself and let our readers know a little bit about you?
I’m Morven Brown, I’m the National Events Officer at Scottish Cycling looking after off-road events (the muddy stuff, which obviously includes cyclocross!). I also race cyclocross as much as I can, as well as dipping my toe into racing most other types of bikes – except from Downhill, I am not that crazy!
2. How long have you been involved in cyclocross?
I’ve been working with cyclocross as part of my role at Scottish Cycling for ten months now, but I’ve been involved in cyclocross racing since 2009.
3. What got you into the sport in the first place?
Moving to the Central Belt! When I left the Highlands, I had never even heard of cyclocross, I was a mountain biker through and through. When I got to Glasgow, some of my friends were starting to get into cyclocross and thought it was the kind of thing I would enjoy. They were definitely right! What keeps me hooked is just the crazy nature of it – it’s the middle of Winter in Scotland, and there’s hundreds of wild people all getting involved with getting muddy, sandy, in rain, wind, snow, sleet.. And that’s our idea of fun!
4. Can you remember the first CX race you went to, and how did it go?
My first ever CX race was at Auchentoshan in 2009. I was on my old mountain bike and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing! I couldn’t get my head around the concept of a timed race, I was fixated on the question of how many laps I should do. I also had no idea when I should stop, and why there was a bell ringing. I absolutely loved it though, it was rainy and muddy but so much fun! I think I went on to do every race that season… Until my MTB was stolen, which gave me a good excuse the next year to buy a cross bike.
5. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at a cross race?
I think cross in it’s self is the craziest thing I have ever seen at a cross race?! The whole concept of it is pretty crazy - try explaining what you get up to in the Winter to your non-cycling friends and family and you’ll soon realise how crazy it is! I do think that the Santa Cross on Mull, when you’re on a small Scottish island, in the middle of December, and there’s hundreds of people riding around dressed up as Santa, is pretty crazy.
6. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done at a race, on or off a bike?
Generally my “race face” in all the photos post race is pretty embarrassing. The next part of my training programme will include setting up a mirror beside the turbo trainer to work on smiling, or at least looking like I am enjoying racing. I fall off way too much for any of those to be considered embarrassing – and falling is just an important part of CX?
7. Do you have a favourite course, either to ride, or to spectate?
That’s really tricky, I’m not sure there are any courses I don’t like. Or at least, that if I don’t like them one year, if I have a better race the next year I will like them again! I thought Irvine this year (2017) was an excellent course, and I have a particularly soft spot for the rollercoaster nature of Callendar Park. My MTB roots are very attracted to Mull too! Every course is so spectator friendly, it’s brilliant. My mum had never really enjoyed watching me race bikes until she came along to a cross race – at least then she could see me lots of times in a race and know if I was going to fall it was usually a soft landing!
8. Are there any riders you particularly admire?
I probably don’t watch enough world or international level CX to have many opinions on the world-class riders. I think I most admire those riders at Scottish races who are friendly, polite and get stuck into their racing. When a V50 rider passes me and gives a friendly shout, I really admire that, or when I see one of our Scottish Juniors doing well at British races, I admire that. I’m always impressed by how hard the young riders race, and then are straight back out on the course to cheer/heckle for their parents in the next race. I’m quite cheesy like that!
9. Any particular highlights from last season?
In terms of my own racing, I had way more good results that I was expecting! I got a 4th place at the first round at Callendar Park, and I think I am still in shock about that (that form did not carry forward to Callendar Park this year!). I ended up 7th overall in the Senior Female series which was quite nice too. Getting the Events job at Scottish Cycling was a highlight at the end of the season, knowing I would get to work with Cyclocross which is a discipline I enjoy so much was really exciting.
10. Finally, what are you looking forward to this season?
Hopefully I will get some training in and start performing a bit better at races, although, as long as I am having fun, that’s the most important thing. I’m really excited for the Champs at Knockburn, the team there always put on a great course and a good venue. From a SC work point of view, I’m looking forward to working with the organisers and the SCXA to help support them to deliver great events. It’s great to get out at the events and chat to the other organisers and riders. We have so many riders attending events and loving cyclocross that it’s such an exciting sport to be a part of.