It seems like every weekend I’ve been racing recently. If I haven’t raced I’ve been helping someone else at a race. In fact in the last ten days I’ve raced 5 Mountain bike races and I’m loving it – who says there aren’t events in the South-East?…
At the end of May I raced the regional champs – the MSG Eastern Series organisers had very little to work with at Carver Barracks but I thought the course was bloody brilliant. A couple of really fast gravel roads and then plenty of tight twisty singletrack made the tracks a little like a cross course and a lot of overnight rain helped me feel right at home – I love both wheels moving around under the bike and plenty going on – I came away with 6th which doesn’t sound like much but it was against some proper fast boys so I was happy and it boosted my confidence.
Beastway, on the other hand, has thrown me some real curveballs this year with crashes and punctures – It’s such a great way to get into mountain biking so I don’t know why more people don’t do it – as they say you can lead a horse to water, but the bugger doesn’t have to do anything once it’s there. I was trying really hard, but finished nowhere at round 5 due to a crash that winded me pretty bad – I made up for it the following week by coming 3rd.
Then we went to Suffolk for the 4th round of the National Series – I wasn’t really feeling the dry dusty course and I couldn’t get my head around the big drop off, but I was still pretty fast. My laps were consistent and out of the five riders that I was really racing with I beat four of them so I was happy with 18th place and it means I’ve now got three good solid National results with one race to go.
I did a club TT before another two rounds of Beastway – I think I was third in the club TT which I think is okay for a mountain bike racer. It would be interesting to see what some of those boys can do off-road…
One of the best races of the year is the Bedgebury 6 hour – there are no points, no prize money and no bullshit. You all start at the same time and the most laps in 6 hours is the winner, its dead simple. I won it solo two years ago beating all the teams as well, but last year Jon Dennis came along to give me a proper race – I had a 24 hour race in my legs but I’m not making excuses because he played it brilliantly, letting me ride off for the first 4 hours and then reeling me back in to win. I’m not sure if that’s what happened this year, but seemingly lightning does strike twice because a guy from the local club beat me the same way. Fair play to him, because I was feeling strong at the halfway mark and he seemed to come from nowhere with a heap of speed – he must have trained hard for that.
The following day I raced the Southern XC Series race at Pippingford because it’s local so why wouldn’t you? I was plenty tired but my lap times weren’t atrocious and I finished 9th. My mate Ed raced too and finished 9th in the Vets – after the race we were chilling out in the pits in the sun and Pip asked us dryly, “why do we race ‘cross in the Winter?” Sitting there in the sun I pondered the question for a bit – I mean, I love ‘cross but this was good too.
The following Wednesday was the final round of Beastway and I was on to win the Elite/Expert Overall – some folk were laughing at my spare wheels but I was taking no chances. Michael Butler soloed round for the win and claimed 3rd overall, Joe Peake didn’t fancy it but showed up to stand on the podium with us which I thought was mint – we’re not mates but I respect him for that. And I almost threw the whole job in the bin when I wrapped a load of course tape in my rear cassette on the last lap, but I stayed calm, finished 6th and that was enough to stand on the top step overall. One of my secret pre-season goals ticked off and the second time I’ve won it. Now it’s time for a week off – kind of.
Photos by “Roots and Rain”, Pip Jenkins and Glen Whittington.
Glen rides for the.æight.bicycle.cøllective and Southborough & District Wheelers. He races mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level and is currently racing his 15th season. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, the.æight.bicycle.cøllective, Wildside Cycles, Four4th Lights, Praxis Works, VeeTireCo, Schwalbe, Lazer Helmets and CeramicSpeed.
GOT WHAT IT TAKES TO RACE WITH US?
For 2018 we’re looking for one or two other riders to be on our race team. The Cøllective is about doing things a little differently. We’re looking to kit our riders out with steel race bikes made in Sussex. Whether that’s for ‘cross, road, crit, TT or mountain bike we’re offering the chance to have a custom steel bike made for you to race on – not just put together, but fully bespoke.
The best part is that we’re not asking you to leave your team or club and that includes racing in club/team kit. We’ve got certain brands that we’d like to work with, but we’re open to suggestions and maybe you’ve got a sponsor or support that you could bring to the table? We have some strict qualifying criteria but don’t be put off by this – if you’re interested in being part of our c ø l l e c t i v e then please get in touch by emailing your racing CV to firstname.lastname@example.org