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2023 Season Round-Up: Daphne Jones

Evie Strachan's 2023 Season Round-Up

2023 was a pretty insane year for me on the bike with its fair share of ups and downs but was with out a doubt the most successful year for me so far and it was helped made possible from all the incredible support given by the teams sponsors.

My focus throughout the 2023 mountain bike season was mainly directed towards my marathon racing but I also competed in the national XCO series. The overall season goal for in 2023 was to get selected to ride for Great Britain at the world XCM championships in Scotland. 


My season started off not quite how I would have wanted with a mixture of injury and illness related setbacks meaning I didn’t quite have the form I would have hoped for going into the first two rounds of the national series. Although this then created me the opportunity to enter my first few races as an elite with less pressure which allowed me to work on other areas of my racing such as preparation routines  and finding my feet in a more competitive and high paced category. 


Through out the season my form began to grow which was massively helped with a well timed training week in Mallorca where I also completed my first big endurance event in the Mallorca 225. This event allowed me to practice fuelling techniques for longer races which was very beneficial for my XCM racing later on in the season. The big take away I took from this race is the importance of pre designing pacing strategy as during the last 40 miles I was really struggling energy wise and had to really push to get to the finish line. 


My next big event following on from this was short European XCM block I did where I raced at a UCI C2 international marathon in Germany and my first XCM Elite world cup in Italy. Both races were are big step for me and provided me the opportunity to learn and race against the best XCM riders in the world. In the Germany race I crossed the line 5th which I was super pleased with as the 120km long course pushed right to the limit, my big take away from Germany going into Italy was that I need to re design my fuelling strategy being stricter with my self to consume enough fuel early on in the race so I don’t bonk later on. The Finale world cup was big highlight of my season as it ticked off big goal of mine which had was made possible by the support of RR23, rideforcharlie and my dad who managed to make the crazy road trip work. The course in Italy presented a proper test of a course with just under 4000 meters of climbing over 100km of finale’s best trails creating a technical and physical course. This course profile suited me very well as it played into hands of mindset which is something which I feel has developed strongly throughout the season and helped me cross the line in 27th which I was over the moon with. Getting to start line of both these international events was something that was massively helped by being on RR23 as the team created an environment where I was able to develop with a support system which encouraged my goals and created steps which would allow me to progress, this then in turn has massively helped my own personal belief on the bike which is something I have often struggled with in previous years. 


Moving on from the international block my season then retuned focus to the national XCO series and championships and the national XCM championships. My next race was the R5 of national series at Cannock which was a race which didn’t go as planned but provided me with some valuable learning. On race day the gels I usually raced with had sold out so I had to go with a different brand which unfortunately just didn’t agree with me and lead to severe stomach cramps part way through the race leading to me having stop in pits for a while to control the pain but I did manage to get back on the bike and complete the race and although it was my worst result on paper of the national series it also showed me the importance of testing new products in training so I can have backups I trust. 


The following weekend I then raced the national XCM champs which I new was an important race in for whether I got selected for worlds or not. The race went amazingly well and was what I would say my best marathon performance of the season crossing the line as 9th Elite on a course which on paper wouldn’t have suited me. This ride combined with results from Europe resulted in my getting selected for the world championships in Glentress in August. World champs has got to be my biggest highlight of the year and the entire experience just felt almost unreal as it was something I wanted for so long. Back in September 2022 when Paul suggested I try and get a ride in the marathon I thought it was basically impossible but through learning to believe in myself, trust the process and being lucky enough to have a great support system I managed to get to the start line. The race it’s self was pretty crazy lining up next professional riders and hearing so many people cheer me on throughout the race. I crossed the line 46th which for me I was supper chuffed with and was an incredibly special moment to share with my Mum, Dad and Brother. Being able to achieve what I can call childhood dream with my family all there to watch in person is something I will never forget. 


The past year on the bike was with out and doubt the most successful year for me so far and was helped made possible from all the incredible support given by the teams sponsors. A big thank you to Schwalbe tyres for help keeping me rubber side down with fresh rubber for the season allowing me to have grip on steep shoots and drops as well as slick roots and muddy cambers, Taya for the supplying high performing chains throughout the season which helped to keep my bike working smoothly throughout the season, Madison for providing helmets, shoes and gloves which allowed my performance on the bike to accelerate and to Run & Ride for the endless mechanics, race day support and opportunities no one this would of been possible without the these sponsors who help have helped make the step up into elite that bit easier. 


In terms of my goals moving into the 2024 season they are focused towards the XCM world cup series with the hope of getting selected again to ride in the XCM world championships which are to be held in Snowshoe America. As well as XCM series I will also being focusing on the national XCO series hoping to keep gaining experience in elite and hopefully also be able to get a top ten finish.

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