After leaving Brighton feeling that I could have done better, Round Two of the London CycloCross League took us to Fowlmead near Deal, which for me is just about the longest trek to any event of the season – was it worth it?..
My week started with a ride along The Ridgeway in Wessex and along with a couple of mountain bike rides proved to be great training for the course at Foulmead, which was heavily biased toward the mountain biker. We’d surely left the bland grassy mediocrity of Brighton behind us and arrived at a man’s course – rocks, roots and technical sections galore.
“Sur le plaque Fucktards”
After a few laps of adjusting tyre pressures I settled into a nice rhythm and new straight away I liked the course. We lined up at the start and chatting to Stuart Nisbitt (who’d just finished 6th in his race) I commented that, “I don’t even care where I finish; the course is so good I’m just going to have fun”. When the horn went off we sprinted for a kilometre down to the first corner.
“If you no longer go for the gap, you’re no longer a racing driver”. – Ayrton Senna
I don’t know who the shouty lil’ guy was, but he left a huge gap in front of me going into the second corner and then spent the next two corners doing everything he could to jump back in front, whilst telling everyone not to overtake (…not sure he really understood that we were racing)! Once he’d managed that he slowed down so much through his lack of technical ability that all of us stuck behind him had a great deal of work to do to get back toward the front. Unfortunately this allowed the fastest riders to get away, but I had my sights set upon Jon Lyons, who impressively was racing the Senior race after winning the Vet race just twenty minutes before. Once a few of us had made our way forward to him we knew we were going well.
Jon then disappeared into the distance as I got involved in a great race first with Dan Drake and after a couple of laps, Wilf Sinclair. Dan was riding very strongly on each of the fireroad sections, but I was feeling more comfortable in the technical bits. I especially loved the deep pools of mud, where a mountain biker’s sixth sense of where rocks and roots might be, can easily make the difference between places. I went ahead of Dan for one lap before he felt he could lift the pace a little.
This he did, but unlike last week when I failed to go with Gabor’s wheel, I’d learned (again) not to let him go and worked hard to stay with Dan. Another lap on we came up to the back wheel of Wilf and continued at a relentless speed. The three of us rode well with one another and passed at least two other riders in the next few laps, blowing them out the back and keeping the pace high. I knew it was going to be a tough battle to beat these two however as they were undoubtedly stronger than me on every fireroad and of course the tarmac finish straight.
But, I held one good card in my hand; The Joker… The other two riders knew they were stronger and knew that I was doing everything I could to stay with them. The one thing they didn’t know was how much deeper I could dig. So I stayed at the back and held my card tightly against my chest.
On the last lap and with three technical sections left I stayed close behind Sinclair as we passed both Jon Lyons, who had crashed and Alex Paton, who had punctured (for about the hundredth time). Going into the short penultimate technical section I forced my way in between Sinclair and Drake, both of whom were now thinking about winning a sprint finish. On the way into the final long technical section I sprinted as hard as I could and forced my way into 8th ahead of both riders for the first time in three laps. Now I’d played all my cards and had showed my hand it was time to give it absolutely everything I had.
I knew that I needed to leave the last hurdles with a hundred yards in hand to be able to make it stick and so I rode the shit out of that last bombhole section so hard that Alex Paton couldn’t even get back on. Coming across the line I knew I’d had a much much better race than last week. Even if the placing had been the same I’d have been happy with the way that I rode so I’ll definitely take an 8th place. Despite the course receiving complaints from the other riders I felt completely at home on the rain soaked coal dust of the old colliery at Foulmead. Was it worth it? Hell yes!
1 Matt Holmes – Arctic/SRAM
2 Gary Record – Not Affliated
3 Michael Butler – GWB/Activ
4 Jules Birks – VCL
5 Stuart Spies – London Dynamo
6 Jack Finch – PMRacing
7 Phillip Glowinski – VCL
8 Glen Whittington – Bike Science/Boardman Elite
9 Alex Paton – GWB/Activ
10 Wilf Sinclair – Pearson Cycles
11 Dan Drake – VC Deal/Activ
12 Jon Lyons – GS Invicta
13 Dan Braid – Corridori
Photos by Oskar Scarsbrook.
Results published by ukcyclesport.com.
Additional video by John at UKCyclesport.
Additional photo (top) by Glen Whittington.
Banner photo by Pip Jenkins.
Glen runs THE.TRIBECA.SPORT.WØRKSHOP which is based at 28 London Road, Southborough, TN4 0QB – 01892 533 339 – firstname.lastname@example.org . The shop specialises in precision servicing, race prepping, 3D Bike Science bike fitting and high quality bikes and equipment. Drop in, give us a call, visit our Facebook page or browse our website for more details. He also runs the shop race team and club as well as racing ‘cross, road and cross-country nationally.
Glen races a pair of Boardman Elite CX Pro’s which are available via Tribeca Sport. All views and opinions are personal and should be taken with a pinch of salt – This blog is not for cissies or cry-babies – Please always adhere to rules V and X.