He describes himself on social media as a professional MTB pushbike handler and racer for Sherwood Pines Cycles, as well as a CX and MTB ace, and it just about sums him up. The Mansfield cyclist has got an impressive history. Last year he was one of four British cyclists selected to compete for Great Britain in the elite men's category at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Belgium. The choice was most likely due to his courageous efforts coming back from serious injury the previous season, where he earned numerous podium spots at national events.
Before that, his accomplishments include British under-23 MTB and CX champion, 3rd junior in the world and a member of the Olympic Development Programme. Last year he ranked 3rd in the Elite Men CX rankings and 4th in the Senior MTB cross country rankings riding for shop based team Sherwood Pines Cycles. This year he remains part of the store team, but will now also be supported by Forme bikes, American Classic wheels and Lake footwear, a perfect fit for all parties involved as the retail outlet and cycle hire facility is Forme's first official ‘MTB Demo Center'.
David Fletcher will be riding a selection of Forme bikes including the Winscar 29" mountain bike with American Classic Carbonator wheels, a Flash Ltd road bike, and most importantly two new cyclo-cross bikes featuring superlight aluminium framesets and American Classic Carbon 46 tubular disc brake wheels. Also, he will be championing Lake's cyclo-cross specific shoes - the unique and hugely popular MX331CX.
Moore Large catch up with David Fletcher to discuss everything cyclo-cross, from goals and training to kit and family life.
How is your training progressing in advance of the cyclo-cross season and how are the MTB preparation races going?
Training for the cyclo-cross season isn't going too bad. I've taken a steady approach to my training leading into the cyclo-cross season, focussing on general conditioning and strength. Closer to the season, I'll begin more focused cyclo-cross efforts, including local events and cyclo-cross training sessions. My MTB racing prep hasn't gone amazingly, but I've shown an improvement on form for each race. With my MTB racing, this year focused on the national championships I'm confident the progress I'm making will do me well when the cyclo-cross season arrives.
What are your key objectives for summer season build up?
My key focus for the summer build will mainly be consistency, aiming to improve gradually as the time goes. Making sure I don’t go into the MTB season too hot. I want to progress nicely and make sure I come into the cyclo-cross season ready to race and last a full season without burning myself out.
What are your goals for this year’s cyclo-cross season?
I’ve been close to winning national rounds on more occasions than I dare say. So, to take that top step in a National Trophy round is a big aim. Winning the Cyclo-cross National Championship would also be a great season topper which hopefully will run me into the Cyclo-cross World Championships and push me into the top 20.
How have you changed your training and preparation this year in comparison to previous seasons?
With my main focus in the past being predominantly MTB I've shifted my focus this year to the winter cyclo-cross season, training more on conditioning rather than the outright top end and all out efforts. I've held back and continued with steady, steady state zone work which will help allow my engine to grow stronger. Once the cyclo-cross season is nearing, I'll switch to a more intense based programme.
What excites you about riding for the Forme brand?
Forme is a reformed and exciting brand. Already in the early stages of reform the products for the future are looking fantastic. With world class race bikes that cater for all needs, they cover a broad horizon of needs and abilities. I’m honoured to be part of an exciting redevelopment of the Forme brand.
Tell us about some of your greatest achievements? And any unfinished business…
I've had many great results. I've won National Championships, National Series overall and national rounds. To date I consider my main result to be third at the Junior World Mountain Bike Championships in Fort William, Scotland. Riding to a bronze medal in front of a home crowd was a significant achievement and one I will never forget. As far as unfinished business goes I'm still keen to win an elite national series round - coming close on many occasions I've still to take the top step.
How do you manage to find a balance between work, home & family life?
Currently, it's very hard, having time to train, work and spend time with my wife and 15-month-old son isn't easy. I've grown to use time wisely and train either very early or very late. With work being mostly 9-5 with some occasions 12-8, I've planned my time to fit in shorter sessions on work days and longer sessions and family time on weekend and days off.
How was your time riding for the GB team academy and what were the most valuable lessons learnt?
My time on the Academy was fantastic. Travelling all over the world doing a job you love doesn't come by very often. Being around many other athletes inspires you to succeed, and with everyone trying to do the same thing it helps you push that extra mile. Granted it wasn't all fun and games. There's always times where you've got to be serious and knuckle down, and the social side of things wasn't the best as friends you grew up with had to take a sideline, mainly due to the distance and time you were away, but sometimes distractions aren't always a good thing. I learnt mostly how to be an athlete. Diets, training, mechanical and physical things were done on a daily basis, all with an aim to give you the best fighting chance.
What are your ideal cyclo-cross race conditions and why?
I've been known for my racing in the horrid wet and muddy conditions. Something inside me just seems to click, and I gain that extra little bit. I think with a mountain bike background I have the technical tools needed. Being able to go into a muddy bank and still come out on two wheels daunts most and still does myself now, but I guess I just have an extra little bit.
Behind every successful rider is a team of helpers- who supports you in the pits?
My main pit helper is my dad. A machine on the jet wash and a dab hand at passing up bikes is key, and he seems to tick both boxes. My mum, wife and other family and friends help in forms of encouragement, pit help or just being a happy face to talk to and be there when you need them. They all have a vital role and without them probably wouldn't be where I am right now.
What are the most important aspects of a quality cyclocross frame?
To make a good cross bike, to me there are a few vital elements you can't miss. Good mud clearance is crucial and something you are guaranteed to suffer with if it's not there. The right geometries help. If the fork has too much rake, it will be sluggish in the corners and won't handle quickly, too little rake, and you'll get a horrid ride feel and to an extent a bit front heavy. I prefer the flatter and mid length top tubes. Riding with a slightly longer stem aids in control while the flatter top tube gives better carrying clearance compared to other brands that have a more diagonal top tube.
Finally, you have ridden for Sherwood Pines Cycles for many years. What support do they give you to make them such a special part of your athlete progress?
Sherwood Pines has been good to me for many years. Being my first sponsor, they helped me by not only by being a friendly person to talk to but also by supplying me with the best tools to race my bike. Paul, the shop owner, is an ex-pro road rider and knows what it takes to race at a high level. His continued support is always greatly appreciated, and without it, you wouldn't see me in the position I am now. Support for any athlete is vital, and Sherwood Pines give much, much more.