On Saturday I was worrying about Sunday’s race – I was standing outside at the London Triathlon, squinting into the bright blue skies and basking in the warmth. Luckily by the time we were putting the finishing touches on Jonny’s bike on Sunday morning the temperature had dropped and the rain was pouring. Proper ‘cross weather had prevailed…
Jonny Young is our guest rider this week, but at well over six foot we were going to struggle to get him onto our medium CX Pro. So he settled for a bike fit and tune on his existing Kona Jake. Probably the biggest bike I’ve had in the workshop! With some fresh bar tape and cables, and with the temperature still dropping, it was time to haul ass to Redbridge in Essex for Round Two of the London League CycloCross. The CX trails at Redbridge had become super slick on top, with a rock hard base of rutted clay that the morning’s downpour wasn’t able to penetrate. It’s only my second proper season and when we get unusual conditions it seems to level the playing field so I was cautiously happy – That and I have a sadistic love of the rain.
Jonny had recently swapped over to Conti’s and seemed happy enough and before we knew it we were being called to the start, where once again the marshal seemingly ignored my 20th overall last year, 14th last week and the fact that I’ve paid money to affiliate to the LCCA. So after he’d called ten or so slower riders to the line a couple of us refused to wait any longer and gridded up where we felt fit – even so I was only on the third row! I don’t really know what else I can do, but constantly lining up behind slower riders who I then have to pass, while the top ten are racing away from me is really starting to piss me off.
Anyways, the cream always rises, so as we shot up the first tarmac climb I focused on passing as many people as possible and as we flew into the first grassy section I wasn’t in a terrible position. Jonny likewise said afterwards, “I just concentrated on passing as many as I could before the first turn. That set me up pretty well for the first few laps and I’d managed not to fall off”! There was more truth in that than he knew – looking back at the video there were crashes all over the place! Riders looped back on one another for the first couple of hundred yards in a dizzying blur, but I didn’t have time to look around. I was concentrating on holding Russel Short’s wheel and the two of us worked our way past a whole bunch of riders until we grouped up with Jules Birks, Phil Lenney and Phillip Webb. We raced a lap together, but the riders ahead of us were getting away so we had to push on. Jules dropped out with some kind of mechanical. The two Phil’s then controlled the pace for a few laps whilst the four of us rode round like a train.
Pete was having a great battle with Simon Scarsbrook and Phil Murrel, before he used up his brake pads. With the levers coming all the way back to the bars he was a victim of having worked late nights in the week – A good example of how little things at this level can affect you in a big way. It’s tough to stop when your bike says no and your body says yes, but it’ll be a lesson learnt for him and I’m sure he’ll have a few extra sets of pads ready for the 3Peaks next weekend!
Jonny was finding the support from our helpers, Crissy and Frank, lifted him every time he came through the arena, “it’s amazing how much of a lift you get with a little encouragement”. He also found the other riders behaving well, “I don’t know how many laps I’d done but as I crossed the line I heard a bloke say, “get ready their coming” within 20 seconds I heard the bell”. The pressure was on! I knew then I had one lap to put in and as the leader passed me I said well done, to which he replied, which I wasn’t expecting and so encouraged by the leader I started my final burst. Trying to keep up with Jack Finch however had made me come off for the second time in exactly the same spot but I jumped up and kept riding!”
Back in my race I found that in the technical sections I was being held up, but I just wasn’t strong enough to sprint past on the wider bits, so simply maintained the pressure. T o be honest though, with three laps to go I was finding it hard going. I figured that if I was struggling then everyone else would be too so I attacked and got in front of the two Phi’sl before getting taken out by a rider who was a lap down. I love the fact that at ‘cross races everyone is welcome, but when I shout that I’m coming past on the right – don’t move to the f%$king right! Webb and Lenneyl went back past, but I wasn’t going to give up that easily!
I chased both riders down in the technical bits and finally made the move stick with about a third of a lap to go. In the last spiral section I caught sight of my team mate Jonny who’d done a fantastic ride to finish 48th in the tricky conditions – He managed to stop me from lapping him and we came over the line laughing at each other! He later said, “I caught a glimpse of Glen, reminded him he wouldn’t catch me, then I looked back and realised he might, so I stamped my way to the finish”! Great result for the Cøllective in the end. Our friend Jo also had a great race, but it was a shame that Pete had to pull out. Jo’s also set herself goals to beat selected riders and it’ll be awesome to see her recognise those goals, which we all know she will.
Jonny says his aim for the next race is to not let anyone lap him, which is great to hear. He’ll be a fast one once he gets comfortable I reckon! He’s saying all the same things that I was saying last year and it really is just a bit of experience that changes things. His personal race this weekend was with me – “I feel like I won that race, even though I was behind him, he didn’t manage to lap me! It was good to be racing again. I was pleased with how I’d ridden. The bike performed exactly how a bike should, to which I really need to thank Glen for sorting out and I really enjoyed doing a little better than expected.” Next race no one is going to lap Jonny!
Big thanks to Crissy and Frank for the photos and the shouts and also to Jonny, Pete and Jo for riding with me. Finally thanks to John at Cross-Crazy for the additional phots and the video.
The bikes will be serviced by THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY at Tribeca Sport with kit and bike fits from Bike Science. Bikes and team rides are still available so if you’re interested you should contact Glen via email@example.com for more details. They have several packages to suit you as well as a full range of bikes, servicing and bike fitting in their shop in Southborough, Tunbridge Wells.