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A superb insight into our race team courtesy of The Chasers Collective


Spotlight number 4 is a real treat- anyone who has entered any race in the south has at some point been put into the red by one of the riders in this team. We wanted to get an insight into this team because they have had a dominant season and every rider represents and rides the way TCC love most- riding hard and going for it. You will never see SDB sat in the bunch- there’s always one or more in the break of trying to cause chaos. We love that. It also helps that they are all absolute hitters, so the attacks have plenty of weight behind them- so ignore the surge at your own risk.

A very clear example of their way of racing was at the second of the Hove Park Crits. I went down to take some pictures and watch some Blazing Saddles boys race in the 2/3 cat race. There was 5 or 6 SDB riders and they absolutely hammered it from the start- tearing the race apart immediately.

The SouthDowns shops are second to none for service, products and facilities so please do check them out if you’re after great advice, friendly service and people who love bikes.

A massive thanks to Paul and Stu for the help setting this up.

Name of team:
SouthDowns Bikes/Casco Pet race team

Casco Pet
SouthDowns Bikes
Specialized UK
Reynolds Wheels
Prosport Distribution provide our kit


When did the team start?
Back in 2010. The team has always achieved results but has really gone from strength to strength
since 2016. When I took over the running of the team I wanted to shake things up a bit and bring in
some hungry young guys to kick start the team into life. Our older existing guys have been buoyed
by this and we are now a successful team that can give back a little to our very generous long term

How many members in the team?
The team has 10 supported riders but there are more in the wider club set up too.

Paul Barnard (DS and rider)
Matthew Bubear (Sponsor and rider)
Simon McNamara (Road Captain)
James Bonham
Stuart Bettis

Gary Brind
Steve Calland
Ollie Fenton
Charlie Heffernen
Rich Cartland

Favourite places to ride? Any particular segments or roads/climbs/descents?
We tend to do the vast majority of team rides in the winter months before the season starts. We
therefore tend to head for the rolling roads of the West Sussex/Surrey borders allowing for long
training rides. We do also enjoy the odd Boxhill run on the better weather days.

You have been chosen for Spotlight because of your passion for chasing, whether that be results,
distance, goals or challenges. Can you give a brief insight into the teams cycling attitude and why it is that way?
Ultimately I want us to be aggressive and take races by the scruff of the neck. If we ride in this way,
the results will come. The team is always more important than any individual riders ambitions and
every rider that I sign must buy into that philosophy and a riders personality/character is therefore
more important than his results when coming into the fold. This means we are good mates and will
help each other out in races.

What are the disciplines you race in and where?
We are predominantly a road race squad but we do have some guys who do TT's and a few do cross
in the winter as well.

What categories do you race in?
We are a cat 2 team that mainly targets regional A and national B level races. We like to test
ourselves wherever possible though and have had riders at big races such as the Ras in Ireland and
the Rutland Melton Cicle Classic.

Do you have team training rides? If so, how do they work?

As mentioned these tend to be between November to February when the guys aren’t racing. They
tend to be between 80-100 miles if the weather is decent and will normally involve a cafe stop.

Do riders train solo to a plan set by the team or is it down to individuals?
It’s down to individual riders to sort their own training or use a coach to do so. We are lucky to have
strong links with Trainsharp with a couple of our former riders having worked there and Chris
McNamara being a regular on our winter rides. Chris has been around the scene for a long time and
is always on hand with advice and a half wheel 90 miles into a ride 😉

How do you go about planning tactics for a race? Both before and during
I give the guys entered for the race my preferred tactics that I want us to follow. We are then very
flexible on the road depending on how the race is playing out. We are very lucky to have guys like Si
McNamara, Rich Cartland and Steve Calland who all have huge race experience at a high level and
can help me make decisions as a race plays out.

The past season/year has simply been our best to date. We have won plenty of races from mid week chippers to stage
races. From February – October we have been getting results across the board.

What were your goals at the start of the season/year?
We don’t tend to set too many, the way we ride is more important to me as the team manager and if
you keep rolling the dice you will get results.

What are the highlights of the season? There must be quite a few to choose from!
Having 3 riders in the top ten 10 on GC (including the winner Steve Calland) at the Surrey League
May 3 day was a huge result for the team. Myself and Ollie Fenton were with Steve in the race
defining break on the middle stage and realised that with Steve’s finish we had to commit to either
forcing the others to chase us or keep the pace high on the approach to the finish climb. We
managed to do both and once there Steve did the rest to smoke the sprint to win the stage and
ultimately the overall as well. It was just one of those weekends when it all came together perfectly.

The vets on the team have also just dominated the Masters Tour of Majorca stage race with Si Mac
winning the over 40’s, getting 2nd overall in the whole race and Gary Brind picking up the points
jersey too.
I have also really enjoyed seeing younger guys that I have brought into the fold do well. Charlie
Hefferenan is one such rider who won several races and really added something to the team. Ollie
Fenton is another who has made huge progress this season.

What has been the lowest point?
The only low points have been crashes. When you race as much as we do, the odd stack now and
again is a given unfortunately. Stu Bettis in particular has had more than his fair share and it is
always hard to see someone you care about end up in A&E through something they love doing.

Have you achieved the goals you set out with?
I would say so but you always want more. Success breeds success as they say and I won’t let us rest
on our laurels!

Other riders or teams who inspire you, whether pro, local or anyone else:
Quickstep are the benchmark when it comes to how a team ride as a unit but still achieve individual
ambitions too. They are the best in the business at it and for me are inspiring for any lower level
riders or team to look up to.
Closer to home, the already mentioned friend of the team Chris Mac is a true local legend. He’s been
an elite rider and won national B’s for a long time, he is still doing this now despite being in his 40’s
and coming up against plenty of 18-23 year olds who are full time bike riders doing 25 hour weeks
on the bike and little else. Chris has always been competitive against full time riders around a full
time job and normal life which really shows what you can do through commitment and consistency.

The future
It’s difficult to say, being a strong 2nd cat team that can do well at the right national B suits our
riders who all work fulltime, have families and so on. To progress to the next level requires a lot
more time and money investment. Elite teams have team cars, staff and young riders that maybe
looking to make cycling a career. That simply isn’t us, we are essentially a bunch of mates who love
our hobby and want to do the best we can with it around of busy lives.
Therefore it will be trying to improve on our results each season and maybe help some of the
younger individual riders move onto the next level instead.

What are the teams plans for winter riding and training?
It will follow our traditional winter set up already mentioned above. These rides are a great laugh
and are a good workout too. Most importantly though they are where the team camaraderie is
made and relationships are formed, especially when new riders enter the fold.

How do you go about choosing new goals for the next season/year?
As said, we don’t really set too many. We will look to target two or three stage races and then
continue to look to do well in the Surrey League and South East Road Race League throughout the
season, getting as many results as we can.

Who’s got the best bike and why:
Although there are a few candidates here, Si Mac has to be the answer. He takes a lot of care and
pride in his bike, always has little bling elements like a gold chain or something added. He also works
at the shop and will have the Saturday lads cleaning and polishing it for him on a quiet day 😉

Anything custom/special?

Bike fits. SDB are an official Retul retailer and offer a brilliant bespoke bike fit. The team riders
certainly take advantage of this and it is a big help to avoid injuries when you train and race as much
as we do.

What gear/nutrition do the team use when racing?
We don’t have a specific nutrition sponsor at the moment – something I’d like to rectify soon so if
anyone is reading this that could help please get in touch! We use whatever SDB are stocking
normally but the guys like a mix of real food/bars/gels depending on the length/intensity/stage of
the race.

Quick fire round (Team general consensus!)

Who’s the winner in a just Southdowns hilly road race?
In a proper hilly race Rich Cartland, Si Mac, Paul Barnard and James Bonham would duke it out.
And flat race?
This would be between Charlie Heffernan and Steve Calland if it came down to a sprint. Matt Bubear
would round out the podium. Gary Brind, Stu Bettis, Ollie Fenton are the engines in the team for the
all day break.
10 or 25 mile TT?
Si Mac but Stu Bettis can push him close on the right day
Ollie Fenton comes from a MTB background, Steve Calland might push him close though
Probably Ollie
Mega Avalanche?

No idea but it won't be Stu, the worst descender in the team

Who trains the hardest?
I have been known to do silly long turbos in the winter so I deserve a mention but as James and
Steve are pilots they have an incredible amount of time to train!

Who is always late for rides?
The boss man, Mr. Bubear, if he shows at all!

Rider with the most panache:
James Bonham looks world tour….

Who has the highest max power?
Probably Gary Brind but only due to his weight

Best bike shop:
Southdowns Bikes obviously!

Indoor training in the cold and rain or harden up and ride outside?
It has to be a mixture of the two. We will ride in most conditions but you have to be sensible when
it’s icy.

Describe your teams’ riding and cycling style in 4 words:

Take the race on!


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