Clear blue skies and rock hard trails are normally a recipe for disaster for me, but something about Herne Hill always feels comfortable. Vicious Velo had worked hard to get the course into a state where it was rideable and put on a really great round of the London League…
A late choice to run a tube with a patch on it seemed like a good idea at the time…more of that later…
On the warm up laps it was obvious straight away how rough the course would be and to be honest, if the weather is hot and sunny then, rough is good for me. I’m far better at the techy stuff than the grassy open sections so I rely upon the track being difficult to level the playing field.
I’d been told beforehand to grid up on the inside of the long first turn, but when I was called forward my choices were centre or right, or one row back. So I went with centre! I actually got a half decent start for me and found myself comfortably sitting inside the top ten which was crucial by the time we got onto the singletrack. Three sharp 180 degree off camber corners were testing all of us and really holding up the later riders.
As the race went on I found myself in a group of six, fighting for positions 6 through to 11th. I was more than comfortable in the technical bits, but had to push really hard to stay with the group on the fast infield sections. I caught them up straight away in the singletrack and worked hard to get past a couple of them each time, but just couldn’t make the moves stick for several laps.
With about four or five laps to go Russell Short had been on the front of our group for ages and had worked bloody hard which meant that he dropped off the pace slightly. He ended up putting in a great last lap to secure 10th and had to fight past a couple of quick riders. Tasting blood Chris McGovern and Liam Earl put in a couple of fast laps to break up the group. A couple of shouts from Stuart McGhee, John Mullineaux and the Crawley Wheelers guys, telling me to get back onto the youngsters wheels did much to inspire me and I put in everything I had to get back in.
…About that inner tube. With three laps to go my rear tyre was starting to complain! The brutally bumpy course had taken its toll on my patched tube and squeezed much of the life out of it! Having used the train to get up to Herne Hill I had no spare wheels so my head was full of thoughts about stopping for a new tube, or maybe just filling this one with CO2 and hoping, or maybe just ride it home on the rim? What to do?
In the end, each time I was approaching the pits I had a look around to see where I was – I was just about staying with Chris McGovern, but staying well ahead of Russell and now maintaining a good gap to Darren Barclay. With that in mind I just couldn’t allow myself to waste time in the pits and I decided to nurse her home.
I did my best to keep the gaps constant whilst trying to find the most sympathetic line through the rubble to save my tyre and it seemed to be working. On the last lap I actually asked my tyre out loud to “please don’t die, almost home”. Catching a glimpse of Russell riding past Darren with a definite race-face on, meant that I had no option now but to keep my weight forward and sprint over the rough grass… Crossing the line in ninth I knew I’d been a little bit lucky, but I also had to work bloody hard for it and I’d smashed my target of finishing top fifteen – Job done. Now, can we please have a bit of rain for next week please?
1 MATT HOLMES Arctic Premier
2 JULES BIRKS VC Londres
3 ROB PURCELL Mountain Trax
4 LIAM EARL Sutton Cycling Club
5 KRISTIAN BORBELY Sigma Sport
6 STUART SPIES London Dynamo
7 JACK FINCH PM Racing
8 CHRIS MCGOVERN Sutton Cycling Club
9 GLEN WHITTINGTON Bike Science-Boardman Elite
10 RUSSELL SHORT London Dynamo
Photos by Oskar Scarsbrook.
Results published by ukcyclesport.com.
Additional photos and video by John Mullineaux at UKCyclesport.
Header Image by Pip Jenkins.
Glen races a pair of Boardman Elite CX Pro’s which are available via Tribeca Sport. He races in the London CycloCross League and is supported by Bike Science and Helly Hansen. All views and opinions are personal and should be taken with a pinch of salt – This blog is not for cissies or cry-babies.
Glen runs THE.TRIBECA.SPORT.WØRKSHOP which is based at 28 London Road, Southborough, TN4 0QB – 01892 533 339 – email@example.com . 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.