home soil can be a special thing…
I suddenly realised the other week that I haven’t raced at home for five years now. As one of my friends mentioned on the day, “the first few years that they ran races at Bedgebury it was a bit like shooting fish in a barrel”! So after a few good results here in the early days I’d largely written off the local races as being a soft touch. Recently the races have attracted many more riders at all levels and the competition, regardless of ability, has become harder and therefore more rewarding.
Turning up on the morning I didn’t know what to expect but was excited to see a few riders that I recognised from ‘cross and road racing. The course was tight twisty and quite a challenge on the big 29er, but I’d found a tyre that I was happy with and sorted my pressures. I was relaxed and ready. No gridding meant pushing my way to the front of the grid as we lined up in the chilly Sussex morning.
Bedgebury is so tight that I figured I’d need to get my way to the front early on so I pushed hard enough up the first climb to slot into 2nd place behind Gary Record. The first lap went quickly, but I felt good and the two of us seemed to have a small gap, so I took over at the front. All of a sudden, Gary seemed to drop back and I had a good 50 meter gap. I sensed now was the time to try and disappear, before anyone bridged the gap so I went a bit harder than the lap before.
Looking back down the main straight I’d developed a good gap between the chasing pair of Mark Sheppard and Jules Birks. Another lap at a decent pace got me out of sight, but I was now wary of overdoing it – a couple of hairy moments and plenty of backmarkers meant I had to concentrate hard. As the race went on there was one spot where I could just about glance over and see Jules chasing. Lap after lap though I seemed to quite comfortably maintain the gap I’d produced.
Still, hearing the bell ring for me was a huge relief and I grinned my way all around that final lap, keeping my attention on being smooth – a puncture or crash could still spell disaster and with it being a while since my last win I knew I couldn’t let this one go. Also this was going to be a proper win against riders I respect so it was worth a lot. Rolling over the line I was loving getting my hands in the air for the first time this year.
- Glen Whittington (SDW)
- Jules Birks (VCL)
- Mark Sheppard (Fruit4London)
Photos by Ruth Terry, Natalie Foreman 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, and the.æight.bicycle.cømpany @eightbikeco #aeightracer
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. @thevelohouse #thevelohouse