Originally I’d written a long and complicated blog about the cost of racing and how I didn’t think that the organisers of Southern XC had my best interests in mind. I’d worked out that it had cost me £230 to go racing on a shit course, but then I remembered that if you have nothing good to say about something you’d best say nothing at all, so I have nothing more to say about that…
So a week after my last ever Southern XC race I joined up with a whole bunch of riders from our two local (Tunbridge Wells) clubs to remember a man who helped set one of those clubs up. Nigel Furminger was a founding member of the St. James Velo club and did much for the local riding scene up until a few years ago when he lost the battle with cancer. His spirit and enthusiasm rides on in both clubs and so we rode out to remember him early on the Sunday morning on one of his favourite rides – a 110 mile loop over to Fellbridge, down to Eastbourne and then back up through Stonegate.
The loop down to the first rest stop at the Blackboys pub took in a fine chunk of the local lumpy East Sussex countryside. It was chilly in the early morning spring sunshine, but a nice section of farm track warmed us up. Notably as we waited at the far end the smiles and laughs of the first few riders slowly morphed into the grimaces and scorn of those toward the back, but I think everyone secretly enjoyed it in hind sight.
The next section took us through some wider open (and windy) West Sussex roads and quickly split us all into smaller groups. As we made our way down to the hill the storm clouds began to brew – it felt like riding on the little Belgian roads of the spring classics.
The sprint up to Beachy Head is a non official race (there’s a cup – albeit a paper mache one) and always precedes the lunch stop in Eastbourne, which did lots to refuel both our legs and minds, before we made the return to Tunbridge Wells.
With everybody’s legs singing we rode across the Pevensy Levels and up toward Heathfield before taking to the lanes around Witherenden – some of my favourite in the world. A few of us were still fighting up the hills but most were content to ride in as a bunch. The last rise up to Tunbridge Wells from Bartley mill was pure survival instinct rather than riding. Once most of us had regrouped the flat final kilometres to The Velo House for a beer were fantastic.
110 miles with a load of good mates was well worth the effort and if you can’t race good races then its money well spent I reckon. Cheers to Steve and Julie for the feed stops, Keith for keeping us all together (kind of) and to Olly for the beer.
Photos by Tony Byers.
Glen rides a Colnago Master and races a Scott Addict at local road races, both available via The Velo House. He races a KTM Aera Pro 27.5 hardtail in the UK National Points Series and the Eastern XC Series. He used to race it in the Southern XC Series. He receives personal sponsorship from Helly Hansen, KTM and THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY. He’s also supported by Lazer helmets.The KTM team is supported by Continental Tyres, Torq Fitness and Four4th Lights.