On my practice lap I found the perfect tyre at the perfect pressure, but at Redbridge all that means is that it’s soon going to piss down and everything will change!..
This year I’ve decided to try and do a few different races rather than just the London League and so the first round of the Eastern League at Redbridge (Hog Hill) seemed like too good a race to miss, especially with Redbridge missing from the London League calendar this year.
I was feeling okay but slightly nervous about what the competition may throw up not having raced an Eastern before. I recognised a few names and so focused on staying with and racing them. We were set-off up the main hill and onto the finish straight before turning hard left onto the grass. Straight away something felt wrong with the rear wheel, but I was riding on Bruce Dalton’s (KinesisUK) wheel and was determined to stay there. Riding down the first set of switchbacks it was clear that the air in my rear tyre had deserted me and I had to hop off and start running.
By the time my new rear wheel was in my bike I was 2nd from last (35th place) and had lost over two-and-a-half minutes. Back on the bike I set about doing my best to get back into the race passing riders wherever I could – great training for those narrow tracks later on in the year. I was feeling good and the run hadn’t hurt me too much – also if you’re going to have to run it may as well be at the start when you can then do something about it!
By the 2nd lap lots of people had punctured and now I was making my way back through slower riders whilst also racing head-to-head with the other puncture victims. One such rider was Jon Dennis (Hackney GT) who I know from my normal league and who I’ve shared many good battles with.
As we closed in on 4 laps to go my concentration was upon staying un-lapped and in trying to raise my pace I crashed. This also allowed Jon to close in on me and pass. I chased him back up the hill as we passed lapped riders struggling in the harsh conditions. At Redbridge the ruts that have become baked hard in the sun turn greasy and unpredictable in rainy conditions – the grip constantly changes through the corners and it’s hard to predict the best racing line.
With one-and-a-half to go Jon made a mistake and crashed, allowing me back past and I took the opportunity to attack as hard as I could to make a gap up the hill. Now my lap times were not far off the top five riders but my initial puncture saw me way back and I was unsure whereabouts I was so I just kept it pinned all the way to the finish. Crossing the line I really hadn’t left anything back and tenth place overall made the running well worth it! I reckon without the puncture I could have crossed the big time gap to 7th or 8th, but in terms of placing I was well glad to have ridden from 35th to 10th and to be back in the top ten.
- James Madgwick (Hackney GT)
- Grant Martin (XRT-Elmy)
- Matt Holmes (Arctic)
10. Glen Whittington (SDW)
Photos by Pip Jenkins.
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