The race season is dead, long live the race season – time to swap bikes…
After Betteshanger I lost a little motivation and decided not to race for a bit. Instead I’ve been out on the Mountain bike looking forward to the new season. I figured I should make the most of having a bit of free time before the season really starts going and so I’ve kicked myself out of bed on a few frosty mornings to go and ride some new trails.
During the cross season I’ve been working on a four hour ‘cross loop that weaves its way through some of the best bridleways and gravel in Sussex. Many sections of this are good on the mountain bike too and the extra effort on the road sections really gets you back into condition after a winter of short sharp one hour races.
I also made the trek over to Swinley to sample its man-made trails and some off-piste bits that I remember from before everyone went trail-centre crazy. The single-track is pretty good but rough as hell due to the constant overuse of such a popular trail. The off-piste bits are much better – it amazes me that everyone always sticks to the same route even though better trails exist so close to the main ones – herd instinct I suppose, but I’m not complaining as my favourite bits don’t get ruined.
Back at base, Bedgebury is in a good condition at the moment – a beaten up Swinley makes you appreciate the hard work that the volunteers at Bedgebury complete. People knock it, but I reckon we’ve got some of the best trails in the south-east and again the secret, off-piste bits are always good. I’m looking forward to racing again this Summer – it’ll be my third season on the Scott Scale and I still love it. Scott leant me a Spark for a week or two and I’m currently trying to work out which part of my body I’m going to sell so that I can buy one of those too! I love ‘cross and road, but there’s something about mountain bikes that make me smile even more.
A couple of weeks off did me good and I was fired up for the London X league Team Champs. We got two good Southborough teams together and for the first time ever I felt we had a chance of finishing in the top ten. I was joined by Cameron Preece, Simon Miller and Tim Johnston in the full champs race. The start is divided up into four pens and one of each teams riders must be in each of the pens. At the end the best three times are added up and you get a team placing. For the first time this season I’d got myself on the front row of the grid so I was keen to get on with the job – however even I was surprised when I ended up being the second rider through the first dozen corners and ahead of the vets World Champion – not a pretend category,…an actual World Champ!
Predictably this didn’t last forever but I stayed pretty high up during the whole race and felt strong on the climbs. I’ve worked on my power over the last few years and this is starting to affect my technique,…it’s a difficult balance to get right, but my downhill sections are shite at the moment and I need to work on it. Simon, Cameron and Tim were flying though and we all raced well – I finished 12th, but we finished 6th as a team which is absolutely amazing. Out of 35+ teams, it’s Southborough’s best result ever and shows the hard work that everyone’s put in over the last five years.
Photos by Glen Whittington and Dave Haywood.
Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, Scott Sports, The Velo House, and the.æight.bicycle.cømpany. Glen runs The Velo House with Olly, a coffee shop, workshop and bike shop welcoming all cyclists and non-cyclists, based at 5 St.Johns Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 9TN – 01892 554 505 – email@example.com. He also contributes to Simpson Mag @eightbikeco #aeightracer