Making the most of the British summer I’ve managed to pack in a really hot marathon XC race, a sunny road race, a warm XC race and a damp TT – not bad for a rainy old August and some tired legs…
I headed up to Wantage in Oxfordshire for round four of the Scott Mountain Marathon Series. The 100km loop took us out to the best bits of the Chilterns and included several rutted sections of The Ridgeway. With about 800 riders at the start racing over four different distances the start was fairly chaotic, but it was good fun to spend the first hour overtaking some eager quick starters. We blasted a couple of swoopy sunken downhill sections and I was in a good position racing with some guys that I know are fairly quick.
Then, the noise that everyone fears – my rear tyre had fallen foul of one of the many flints that littered the fastest lines. Fixed and keen to make back some places I spent the next couple of hours pushing as hard as I dared. In the last 45 minutes I was feeling really strong and so at the last feed stop I filled up just the one bottle and smashed it all the way back! 17th rider home in just over 4 hours was a welcome result with pretty much no training.
The Southborough Wheelers Club Champs took place a week later at Cyclopark in Kent. Four or five laps in I remember thinking, “it’ll all settle down soon”, which is just about the moment when everything turned itself inside out and went bat-shit-crazy. One of my club mates clipped a pedal and got thrown into the air merely inches in front of me. He was leaning to the right when he landed the first time, bouncing, he landed the second time leaning to the left and inevitably the third time he landed was on his hip, by this point now facing me.
A nasty bang but he seemed okay so I chased back on. Then another of my team mates was pushed wide, onto the grass, and then he came flying past me to jump back on – by this point my head was out of the game and when the pace rose again i had nothing left. I tried to get back on for a third time, but ultimately I had to just grit my teeth and get some laps in on my own. Well done to Keith, David and Rory for staying in the bunch for the final sprint and to Matt for winning the SDW Road Champs with some excellent positioning and race craft.
The following day I was determined to make up for my poor road race showing by getting a result to be proud of in the seventh round of the MSG Eastern XC Series. I raced in the Elite/Expert race and despite the warm weather and lack of training I seemed to be comfortable straight away, getting in an early practice lap when it was quiet to settle my nerves.
I got held up a little at the start, but forced my way through from the second row of the grid so that I was racing in the top ten where I belong. Again I found that I started getting stronger toward the end of the first hour and started making way to the pointy end – the leader of the Sport race had made his way up to me from starting a minute back so it was good to keep focused on distancing him. Lap on lap I could feel the pressure but I started riding better and better and in the end managed a strong sixth place outsprinting the lead junior and the sport winner.
With my confidence restored it was time to head up to London for the last round of the Summer Cross Series, but unfortunately I was delayed at work – no bother I’ll race a TT instead! The Ladies Mile SDW TT loops is one of my favourites anyways so it didn’t seem like too much of a hardship – until it started. On the first of three laps I knew I had to keep something in the tank for later. By the second time I went up the main hill I was catching plenty of riders but starting to feel it. On the third ascent I felt like someone was trying to dislodge my lungs through my mouth…it was actually that pleasant!
As usual I reassured myself with the knowledge that if I was hurting then everyone else must be too and so I stuck to working as hard as I could – looking now at the lap times it would seem that my first lap was well off the pace, but the fast second and third lap made up for it and I ended up in second place behind Keith and a few seconds ahead of Rory…I’d at least restored a little bit of my belief in myself! Now I actually have to start some training for the ‘cross season which is but a week away – oh, and I need a bike for it!
Photos by Torin Henderson and Glen Whittington.
Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races Mountain bikes in the UK National XC Points and Eastern XC Series, Road bikes in the Surrey, South-East and Eastern Leagues, TT in the South East Region and ‘Cross in the LCCA League. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, The Velo House, Scott Bikes and THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY.
Glen runs The Velo House with Olly and Matt, a coffee shop, workshop and bike shop welcoming all cyclists and even well behaved non-cyclists. We’re based at 5 St.Johns Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 9TN – 01892 554 505 – firstname.lastname@example.org.