It was a double-header last weekend, with an eastern League race at Grafham on Saturday and a London League event at Penshurst on Sunday. I’m feeling pretty tired right now, but I’m glad I made the effort and pleased with my results…
Saturday was almost a washout, as I arrived 10 minutes after guaranteed sign-on (thanks to bad traffic out of East London) and was duly told that I’d had a wasted trip. Thankfully, a very generous gesture by a fellow racer, who knew that a missed race would probably scupper my possible chances of a series win, meant that I was able to take to the line at one of my favourite courses.
My start was good, but after less than a lap of riding in a small bunch of four, Mark Cotton of Ellmore Factory Racing, decided to leave us all behind. The chasing bunch gradually split and it soon became a solo affair for me, as I battled to try and catch the leader, whilst also keeping a close eye on my series rival, Ross Tricker, who was never far behind.
Cotton remained ahead and Tricker remained behind, although he was caught by my in-form Hackney GT teammate, Ben Lewis, who put his mechanical demons behind him to finish third. Second place for me means that my title hopes are still alive!
Huge thanks to Shane Norton of Spalding CC who gave up his place so that I could continue my league battle. A fellow Kona rider, too!
Penshurst is a very different course to anything else we have in the South East, and I thought it would be an ideal place to put my new disc-spec Major Jake through its paces. It’s an off-road centre, mainly used by mountain bikers, and I think it’s one of the most technically and physically demanding courses in any of the local leagues.
Still sore from yesterday, my legs and lungs were crying out on the first ascent of the killer climb that snakes its way up from the bottom of the valley, and the pain didn’t really ease on the treacherous switchback descent either, where every fibre is focused on staying upright.
A combination of thick mud, grass and wet clay clung to every bit of the bike, but the lack of cantis and the extra clearance meant that it was only the extra muddy weight that slowed me down and the Major never missed a beat. Tired legs was the thing that let me down today and I slipped back to 3rd on the penultimate lap.
Well done to Jack Finch of PMR who took the win convincingly today, and to Dan Drake of VC Deal who got 2nd place.
I’ll be up against them both again next week at the Regional Championships…
Thanks to Glen Whittington for the photo.