A week off, a world cup race, a regional champs race, a turbo race, a big day out and round 10 of the London league – who needs days off anyway…
After nine rounds of the London League and a couple of other races mixed in for good measure (eleven races in a row), what better use of your first week off is there than to go and watch a ‘cross race? Pip and I (and pretty much everyone else from the London League it seemed) drove up to watch the World Cup race at Milton Keynes. The setting was every bit as special as it sounded, but the racing and the course were amazing. Watching the racing live on the internet you still just don’t get the atmosphere or the true scale of the course that they’re racing on. Every corner looked like it would chew you up and spit you back out over the course netting and the climbs and run-ups were brutal. I came back with a reaffirmed appreciation for the skills of the likes of Ian Field et al.
With all of that in mind I was ready for the Regional Champs – I felt strong, I was happy with the bikes and it was being held this year at one of my favorite tracks. I was hoping for a strong top ten, but secretly had my eye on a top five. The start was somewhat confused and late due to some problems with previous races, but they dealt with it well and, for Foulmead, it was relatively warm so it was easy to stay ready for the start.
When the gun went I struggled to find my pedal, but even so after some hectic re-shuffling of places on the first lap I found myself well inside the top ten. I pushed hard to get past a couple of riders and had made my way up to fifth or sixth when my rear tyre once again flatted. I’ve had some cracking advice from a whole heap of people that I massively respect and I’m more confused than ever! Tubeless doesn’t work, latex doesn’t work, butyl doesn’t work and someone else told me that tubs aren’t the answer…I think Adrian Lyons summed it up best when he said, “it’s just luck”, sometimes shit happens I guess.
The following week we organized a turbo race where everybody had to beast out a kilo on the simulated track. This time I didn’t puncture at least. I obviously had to ”let” the owner win, but even so, the common consensus was that he cheated by using a far superior bike – either that or he’s just stronger. I came second although I will be training specifically every day from now on to beat him next time!
This weekend I went training with the KTM team in the Forest of Dean. Perfect blue skies and icy hillsides were the backdrop for a few loops of the red and blue trails. Having a Saturday off was magical in itself, but riding some new trails on the mountain bike was just awesome. Ten months ago was the first time that we all met up as a team and I was still struggling with a shoulder injury. Over the year the team and my shoulder have got stronger and stronger and on those twisty singletracks, at last, I felt completely comfortable. Carwyn, Alex, Gaz and I rode round like a train all day long.
And then onto Round ten of the League on the Sunday. Where I punctured. Obviously.
Sutton CC put on a fantastic race in the oddest of surroundings. The Scout camp where the race is based is basically a steep sided wooded valley and predictably this made for tough going. Tired from playing on Mountain bikes I knew I’d struggle, but with plenty of other people struggling too I was actually riding in an okay position. In the slow muddy conditions big gaps opened quickly but as the race went on I started to catch riders that were dropping back.
I had a good battle with a guy from Gravesend CC before we joined Wilf (Pearsons) and Dan (Corridori). The private mechanics battle continued for a lap when, just as I’d planned to make my move, my rear tyre went. It’s odd because this time I’m not really sure why it went, but it doesn’t matter – basically it was time to run. Again.
The run put me back two places and out of contact with Dan, but I did manage to get back in touch with the guy from Gravesend and also pip Wilf to the post. I’d have obviously liked to have been fighting higher up the order but I’ll take my 11th with a puncture. As Mr. Lyons says I’ve, “got to be due one soon”!
Massive thanks to Pip for working the pits for me!
- John Dennis (Control CC)
- Dan Drake (VC Deal)
- Jack Finch (PMRacing)
11.Glen Whittington (SDW)
Photos by Dave Haywood, Alex (KTM) and Glen Whittington.
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.