With the opening round of the UCI World Cup in South Africa still a whole month away, there's not a lot happening in the mountain bike world. Our Whistler correspondent Callum Jelley has been checking in with some of the world's best riders to find out what they do to keep busy and fit over the winter months.
For the first in our new series of mini-interviews, Cal spoke to Marc Beaumont, a former Steve Peat protege who has gone on to become one of the fastest racers on the circuit. He recently moved from Team Santa Cruz-BikeRadar to GT and is looking forward to a new season under factory sponsorship. Here are his 'Winter Antics'.
Craven Arms, Shropshire, UK.
What's your preferred riding style?
Smooth and controlled most of the time! Ha, ha.
Describe your favorite winter trail/riding spot:
Lake Elsinore trail (in California) – it was really fun a couple of weeks ago, perhaps because it was dry!
How has winter been treating you?
Pretty good. I rode motocross a lot, straight after the off-season up until Christmas. I knuckled down to training in the new year and things seem to be going well.
What does a pro mountain biker do to keep busy in the winter?
Anything really – motocross, golf and usually a holiday.
Do you do any specific training in winter?
Yeah, I always review what my weak points were in the last season. This year I have a personal trainer for the first time. It's been really good having someone to push you. I'm doing training that I'd never have thought of. It makes it fun going to the gym.
Any preferred cross-training methods?
Swimming has been a regular thing this year. I didn't realise how hard it was.
What would be your ideal winter trip destination?
I've just come back from two weeks in southern California. It was really good out there. I got to meet all the guys who designed the new GT Fury at GT R&D. We stayed with Kevin Aiello, the junior rider on the GT team. He's a really nice kid – one to keep an eye out for. We rode downhill and cross-country most days in sun. It's just so easy compared to the winter in the UK.
What are your goals/ambitions for this season?
I'll be aiming for the podiums at the World Cups, trying to get a good overall as I did in 2007. Also, I'll be attending the US Open and Sea Otter, which will be interesting as I haven't done American races before. It'll be interesting to see what the scene is like over there.
So, you're on GT this year. How did you feel about the move from Team Santa Cruz-BikeRadar and what are your feelings on the new carbon Fury?
I'm really excited about the move. It's a great opportunity for me to ride on an international team with factory backing.
They have a great project going with the Fury. The bike feels awesome. It's really stiff and feels really responsive while riding. One of the coolest things is that the bike is completely silent while riding – all you hear is the tyres when you rail the turns.
How does riding in wet old England all winter prepare you for the World Cup circuit?
It's great. You ride here in the shit all winter, which is hard work as everyone knows. Then when you're racing in the sunshine, you're so excited to ride. Plus, if you can go fast in the mud when slipping and sliding around it comes easily when its dry!
And finally, what's your favorite hot or cold beverage?
Hot caramel macchiato at Starbucks.