A week is a long time in the bike industry,… long enough to fit in five days of work, plenty of overtime, a gig, a dinner party, a day of XC training and five races…
”Fancy racing tomorrow night”, I was asked? I don’t know what that question sounds like in everybody elses head, but in mine it means that we’re already signed up, thinking about what I’m eating and checking my bike over, so naturally the answer is yes. My only question is where?
Last Tuesday the answer was Hillingdon – not the best track in the world for a climber like me, but Jack Gregorie was looking for a lead out and I was looking to sharpen up my legs so a plan was hatched and we loaded up his Landi Rolf (bits of Land Rover, bits of Audi, bits of Golf, etc) with bikes and headed over. Wet does not begin to describe just how soaked the track was and without wanting to sound like a drama queen, it really was monsoon conditions – one of the main reasons for not wanting to sound like a drama queen was that it was actually bloody brilliant fun. We let a couple of riders get away and I struggled to find the pace at the beginning, but once we were warmed up we took charge with Jack and me toward the front. With two laps to go I moved up, kept Jack on my wheel, raised the speed up and fired him out of the last corner to take a well deserved second place in the bunch sprint.
Next day I was due to go mountain bike racing at Hog Hill, but after sitting in a queue on the M25 for over a hour it was clear we were going to miss it so we headed over to Cyclopark to practice some laps of the XC course, which is a fair bit better than I’d given it credit for – some mildly technical bits make the multi hit singletrack pretty good for an hour or two’s worth of training and a nice change from Bedgebury.
Thursday is the SDW TT evening so thinking I was signing up to a ten I put my name down and then discovered it was the annual 25! In actual fact though, it would have been a shame to miss it as the course is so good. The long drag up to Wych Cross suited me, but even so with Keith and Matt starting just behind I saw them again just before and just after the traffic lights. I kept Matt in sight for as long as possible before turning at the bottom for the even longer climb up to Kings Standing which I always enjoy. The last section back down to Groombridge and then along to Hartfield is deceptively hard with one sharp rise after another. I finished a couple of minutes faster than last year and well inside the top ten.
Friday and Saturday were my rest days so naturally I went to a gig on Friday and a dinner party on the Saturday – Jacques Anquetil would be proud of my steak and lobster pre-race meal, all washed down with red wine. Therefore, race day Sunday came round quickly, and again a plan had been made. Pip and Jack would ride down to Eastbourne, whilst I would drive down with extra kit and my bikes, Jack and I would race the 3rd cat race and then shortly after I’d get my ‘cross on, before driving home.
The ride down sounded lovely and the Land Rover made it too so we were ready for the 3rd cat race, except we weren’t because it was full of ex-elites! So I managed a bloody stocking pace for as long as I could (about 40 minutes), spending most of my time working hard with Jack and a Lewes Wanderer that I know from mountain biking. Jack got pulled out after another five minutes or so when the lead group of ten riders had lapped everyone. Good fun, but bloody quick.
I collected my license and then handed it straight back over for the ‘cross race, where I knew I could dig a little deeper. It started with a loop of the road course and I stayed at the front, hitting the obstacles for the first time in seventh or eighth. Hitting being the operative word as I managed to come up a little short on a hay bale bunny hop – still I had plenty of space behind me now! I had a few good battles on the tricky tight course that lead down and along the beach before making its way back up through the gardens to the street. Eventually I managed a top ten place which was a much better way to end the day – and so to the pub.
On Monday I did a little work on the bikes and put my name down for another TT, this time a flat ten. Like Hillingdon this was a little fish-out-of-water for me, but I know I’ve got to work on these courses so I got stuck in. I pretty much couldn’t have gone any fast for most of it and then for the last km I went much faster again. Mostly due to misjudging the finish and starting a sprint that never seemed to end much too early! Equal 10th place wasn’t the best result in the world, but it was good experience and I know what to work on!
Photos by Glen Whittington and Pip Jenkins.
Most haven’t been published but I’m down as 13th at Hillingdon which I think is wrong, 7th on the twenty-five and 10th on the ten.
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 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.