After six races more akin to grass track racing than ‘cross it was nice to finally get stuck into some proper mud…
I thankfully swapped to the 38 tooth chainring on Saturday night, as the overnight rain turned the surface at Frylands Scout camp into what felt like peanut butter spread over broken crockery. My practice laps confirmed that today you’d need a mud tyre to cut through the squelch and you’d need to run it really low, praying for the god of the p-word not to strike!
London League did a fantastic job of making my race much harder by gridding me about ten rows behind some people who were giving ‘cross a go – I could barely even see some of the riders I’d be lapping! But you can’t sit around and moan about it all day long so I just about kept all my toys in the pram and set about using my elbows to work my way through.
All in all I got a half decent start and made my way into the top ten where I should have been anyway. The course really suited me so I didn’t want to let anymore riders go – the first three laps were well into the red. Wilf (VCL) got ahead of me and Mike (Corridori) too along with Eddie Davis (Dulwich) who was leading the Juniors.
So the first job was to battle Mike, who’s always fun to race – he’s caught me out a few times this year so I knew it was important to try and beat him on a course that suits me. After a couple of overtakes I made one of them stick and now I focussed on getting Eddie. We were only halfway through but juniors always race like it’s the last lap so we were cutting each other off in the corners as if a rainbow jersey depended upon it. Brilliant racing that stayed mostly clean and was proper fun – I reckon Eddie will be a fast one in the next few years.
I’d gapped Eddie on the hill which seemed to be my strongest part and the next time round with two laps to go I caught sight of Wilf again after he punctured. By the top of the penultimate laps hill I’d bridged the gap – there was a chance of us catching Josh Ibbett (Hunt) for 7th place so I wasn’t pushing Wilf too hard, hoping that we might both move up. As we crossed the line I saw Josh not too far away and made my move right at the beginning of the hill. It had to be maximum attack to work, so with the legs and lungs burning I gave it everything. By the top I seemed to have made some inroads so I went as fast as I dared on the sketchy downhill corners.
Wilf was still with me too and the last few corners were touch and go…I had to sprint to try and get to Josh and stay upright and ahead of Wilf…a couple of dabs cost me the vital seconds on Josh but the final sprint in saw me stay ahead of Wilf, just! Really awesome racing with the guys as usual and I’m feeling good going into the Yuletide break now! Time for some Mince Pies and Belgian beer!
Photos by Dave Hayward, John Mullineaux, Michelle Larivere, Glyn Durrant 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. He also contributes to Simpson Mag @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