Cameron Preece, who races with us, gives his views on the London League so far from a Junior perspective…
After racing cyclocross (and the London League) for the first time last year I was really looking forward to getting going again this year. My season started straight out of the blocks at Round 1 (Stanmer Park in Brighton) – a venue I hadn’t raced before but I’d heard about the big climb last year followed by a technical descent back through the woods. Our category (Junior Men) has now been given our own start time (one minute ahead of the Vet 40) which made it a lot easier to spot exactly who I needed to race for position. Adrenaline definitely got the better of me and I went out super-hard before completely falling apart mid-race – managing to hold on for tenth was a good enough start but I certainly learnt that my starting effort was not one that I could keep hold on top of for forty minutes!
After being handed the number 13 plate for the whole season I now knew what to focus my training on and two weeks later I raced at Herne Hill. I struggled and couldn’t really get into a rhythm during the race, however two weeks later at Round 5 (the second at Herne Hill) I had a much better race and came in at 4th – my best ‘cross result to date.
I missed Ardingly this year due to being in Koksijde to watch the World Cup and after a pretty duff race at Happy Valley in Brighton the week after that I once again focused my training to looking for an improved performance at Leeds Castle. I got another strong start, and I managed to hold a better pace throughout the race whilst feeling a lot stronger than I had done at previous races. I was happy with 7th here considering some of the guys I was up against.
The next round was at Cyclopark, which would be a test run for the National Trophy race the following week. The course itself was brilliant and had everything a ‘cross course should have – sand, hurdles, a steep run up and tricky off camber bits etc. Finishing 11th was frustrating and I was annoyed not to make the top ten but really enjoyed racing on such a good course.
Then the big one,… A double weekend starting at Penshurst on the Saturday – After a running start and a killer climb towards the end of each lap I was sitting in forth before having a bit of a battle with a training partner of mine (Matt from SFA). On the last lap we were together until a deep rutted section where the mud got the better of me forcing me to dismount creating a gap between us – hopefully we’ll battle again this year. The day after that I was back at Cyclopark for my first National Trophy race. I was up against some brilliant riders but I felt that I put in a good effort considering that I’d raced the day before. The whole day was a great experience and I will definitely be looking to do more races like that in the future.
The most recent round of the London League was at Frylands Wood. It was a cold and muddy race with a fair bit of running and I struggled to get much power down anywhere, it was more about how technical you were in the mud! With that not being a strong point of mine I was pleased to claim another important top 5 helping my overall result for the season.
Time now to get in some good training over the Christmas period before getting back into racing in the new year.
Photos by Glen Whittington and Richard Howes.
Cameron rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level. He receives personal support from the.æight.bicycle.cømpany.