When I suggested having a Club ‘Cross Champs for the first time I’m not sure I expected to get more than a dozen riders across all categories, fighting for it like the Belgian National Champs…
…and we’re off…and we’ve stopped again! I picked the wrong side of the grid this week – the start that I knew would be crucial was interrupted by a couple of riders taking each other out and then the rider behind me slamming into my rear mech – great. I pushed my way back into the flow of riders and got alongside a rider from Neon Velo who was riding quite well downhill. I followed him down the tricky Penshurst switchbacks overtaking several riders but setting a stupidly slow first lap. The guys I’d visualized racing back in the summer were long gone!
But, the top ten was for once less of a consideration – my club, Southborough & District Wheelers had decided that a ‘Cross Champs was a good idea and Penshurst is the most local course to us so today was the day. With more than fifteen riders in all categories riding for the honour of being the first club champ my mind was focused on staying near the front and out of trouble. The second rule of racing is don’t get beaten, but the first rule is don’t get beaten by your team/club mates.
One lap down and a little glance back confirmed that Matt Kuwertz was hunting me down. I knew Tim wouldn’t be far behind along with several others who were all working for that trophy. But along with Mike Ladbrook (Corridori) and Rusty (Chaingang) I was starting to move forward from that rubbish first lap. I knew that the technical nature of the descent gave me a good card to play even if I didn’t have the legs to beat Matt back up the hill!
A couple more laps and I could sense things starting to go my way – I was still moving forward and even had Jack (PMRacing) Finch (who I narrowly beat last year) in my sights. This must be somewhere close to the top ten? This was what I needed to do to keep both my club championship and my season alive. At just before the halfway point I was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable and had to back the pace down, Jack moved forward and I concentrated on being as smooth as possible, pushing and easier gear but picking the best lines.
My tyres weren’t missing a beat – the combo of mud tyres and disc brakes is a bit overkill for most races but at Penshurst it really really helped. I’d modified my front tyre too specifically for the course and this made a big difference – the bike honestly didn’t slide once and I reckon that if I were fit I could have pushed it a lot harder. I’m looking forward to the end of the season.
Unfortunately Matt [Kuwertz] was having gear problems and then punctured, about as far away from the pits as possible which is a shame. I was racing well but one of the reasons for having a cross champs was to get some local competition going – Matt had stepped up to this and I think we’d have had a good race in the last few laps. Hopefully he can make it to a few more races so we can push each other a bit. We’ll save that battle for next year maybe?
Of course as soon as I saw Matt was out I started worrying about Tim, but also I wanted to stay ahead of Mike. Each time I rode up the back hill I was getting weaker and weaker and with four laps to go I was looking for the bell! A bloke in the pits shouted, “don’t die yet mate”, and these words would stay with me for every second of the final fifteen minutes! It actually really helped and when the bell finally started ringing I had held my position well. I came out of the woods for the last time in 12th place almost exactly 1 lap down, but most importantly the first Southborough jersey across the line.
- Chris Ansell (Corridori) 1:01:57
- Jon Dennis (Control) +03:04
- Patrict Hough (Lewes) +03:13
12. Glen Whittington +1 lap (1st SDW)
27. Tim Johnston +1 lap (2nd SDW)
37. Stuart Williams +1 lap (3rd SDW)
(Female Champ. 1st Julia Hawksworth, 2nd Pip Jenkins)
Photos by Dave Haywood. John MX, Glyn Durrant and Dave Stocker.
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, and THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY. #aeightracer @eightbikeco
Glen runs The Velo House with Olly, 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.