“We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain … and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath.” – Forrest Gump…
I often joke about ‘cross racing being like, “a pointless and painful, race around a muddy field”. In fact the reason why we love it so much is that it’s a really good test of technical ability and fitness, and the courses are much more exciting than road racing. The only problem at Round nine of the LCCA League was that no one told the organizers – what we got was, “a pointless and painful, race around a muddy field”!
Maybe that’s slightly unfair as the organizers really did work hard to make the most of what they had, but ultimately the Wivelsfield venue at this point in the year was a poor choice and their options were vastly limited. The comedy massive-hole-in-the-middle-of-the-first-corner caught several riders out as we raced up the first slow boggy hill. The entire top thirty were racing together for the first lap and apart from Craig Joy suffering the classic course-tape-in-the-cassette, not a lot was going on.
Riders began to separate a little, but it really was all about who was able to slog it out the best. At the beginning of the third lap I caught my rear wheel hard on a brick in the horrible farm track section – the submersed brick punctured my tyre about ten yards after the only pit on the whole course. Once again you’d have to lay a little blame at the course here as having the pits at the start of the only section that anyone would ever puncture on was truly bloody annoying and badly thought out.
Still, as I rode up and down the waterlogged field my flat rear tyre made absolutely no difference at all and I think I only lost two places. When the tube finally wrapped itself up in my rear mech I was already half the way around the lap. Likewise running in these conditions losses you lots of time, but not so many places so by the time I was back to my bike I’d only dropped back to about 20th/25th.
Now I was breathing even harder, but I got onto Ben Spurrier’s (Vicious Velo) wheel and calmed myself down for a lap. I then adopted my favorite technique of attacking a couple of riders per lap – part of me wanted it to be over, but part of me wanted as long as possible to allow me to retake all those guys who’d gone past while I was running.
The thing that kept on annoying me was just how frozen my feet were. I was riding the three drags up to the top of the hill whilst other guys were running, but one place where it really did pay to get off was the slow right hander at the end of the lap and every time I did my frozen feet struggled to find their way back into the pedals.
With one lap to go I managed to pass James Flury (Vicious Velo) and I knew I’d done a good job to make my way back into the top ten. Especially as I think I hit that bloody brick on just about every lap! Apart from the puncture the bikes worked faultlessly and it was awesome to have so much support around the lap, including Pip, Lexi and Rob from SDW who’d all raced earlier in the day. Chapeaus guys and see you in a few weeks time hopefully!
- John Dennis
- Stuart Spies (London Dynamo)
- Russell Short (London Dynamo)
10. Glen Whittington (SDW)
Photos by Dave Hayward and Alexis Couchman.
Glen rides a pair of Boardman Elite ‘Cross bikes in the London CycloCross Association League. He rides a Colnago Master and races a Scott Addict at local road races, all of which are 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 and Boardman Elite. The KTM team is supported by Continental Tyres, Torq Fitness and Four4th Lights.