What a day to try Mountain biking for the first time…
Okay, so it’s not my first Mountain-bike race, nor was it Pip’s, but up until now she’s had to suffer the odd race on a crappy old hand-me-down bike and the weather has been grim. This time all the stars seemed to line up; she’d managed to blag a ride on a very nearly new Scott Scale 710 and the sun had got his hat on, so it was kind of like her first real mountain bike race.
I got us there ludicrously early as usual, but rather than huddling in a freezing cold Land Rover like we do at ‘cross races it was nice to sit out on the grass drinking coffee and checking tyre pressures. The Scott MTB Marathon Series had brought us to Wantage in the beautiful rolling hills around the Ridgeway and as 700 of us rolled out of the town we all jostled for position, three abreast on the narrow farm tracks. I was on Paul Oldham’s wheel, keeping out of trouble when I noticed Pip come up the outside of pretty much everyone, in the field to our right, smiling at me!
The next few proper downhills were sketchy and loose, but lots of punctures were thinning out the field rapidly and then, just when I was feeling comfortable I fell foul of one too – it hadn’t completely deflated so I jabbed it with an Effetto Mariposa Zot! Nano syringe which helps the tyre sealant seal the hole properly. I got some air in there and it did the trick so I only really wasted about two minutes I reckon.
Back on course the next few hours were really great – nothing but rolling pasture after rolling arable with a few gallops thrown in, it was a stunning day in Oxfordshire! My Scale was working perfectly and the Schwalbe Thunder Burts were now behaving themselves – I had my Fox fork custom valved by Mojo in the Spring and I still can’t believe what a massive difference it makes – I service them myself but I really rate the custom tuning bit of what the boys at Mojo offer.
The 60km course that Pip was doing splits from the 80km bit that I did, giving them a shortcut that we eventually join up with so I expected to catch Pip up again after that, but coming back into the town of Wantage I still hadn’t seen her so I guessed I was in front and that I’d have quite a long wait. I rode into the finishing pen and had a natter with the announcer about my number board which I’d decorated with a Nicky Hayden #69 in memory Nicky.
So I rode out expecting to go and sunbathe for a while whilst waiting and guess who’d beaten me back? Grinning like a Cheshire cat, Pip was standing there waiting for me, after having made it in with the leaders in my race. She’d made it home in 3rd place in the Women’s 60km race (and 15th overall in the 60km cat.) behind Sally Bigham – twice a silver medallist at the marathon world championships. My result was lacklustre in comparison, but I felt strong and my training is starting to get better after a couple of months that haven’t really worked. I felt great in Wales six weeks ago, but since then I’ve felt constantly tired and down, so it’s really nice to start feeling stronger and more confident again. Bring on the rest of the Summer and next time Pip, no beating your Team mate!
Women’s 60km Results;
- Sally Bigham 02:32:32
- Ruby Miller 02:45:17
- Pip Jenkins 02:47:05
Men’s 80km Results;
- Richard Jones 02:46:51
- Joe Griffiths 02:46:51
- Paul Oldham 02:46:51
- Nick Craig 02:47:49
30. Glen Whittington 03:06:34
Photos by Rob Barker and Glen Whittington.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org. He also contributes to Simpson Mag @eightbikeco #aeightracer
 This phrase has always made me wonder; if the sun did have his hat on, how would that affect the amount of light that was shinning on us? Surely the phrase should be something like – the sun has taken all his clothes off,…full frontal sunshine!…hip, hip, hip, hooray,…
 Nicky Hayden always raced with the number 69 on his motorbike and when I got into watching Moto GP in the early 2000’s he was pretty much the first guy that came along and was able to beat Rossi – not all the time, but he was consistant and I really loved watching him race. He won the Moto GP World Championship in 2006 and I met him the following year. He was a real proper motorbike racer and a really nice bloke who had a lot of time for his fans. He was killed in May this year when out training on his push bike which is what he loved to do away from the motorbikes. I’ll miss watching him race.