October marks the proper start of the ‘cross season – so I booked up a few races and did some training, well sort of anyways…
I wrote about my first race of the season last time around – all that had preceded this was a weeks’ worth of training, by which I mean riding my bike and the odd run. Running is odd in itself, it seems to have such a rapid affect on the body, but I have to be careful with it as it seems to quickly take too much off.
Another week’s worth of training and I was ready for the second round of the #EKCX league. Newington was a bit of a trek for us in Sussex but the quality of the racing is so good that it’s well worth it. I had an okay start at Herne Hill, but at Newington they put me on the front row and it made a big difference – Eddie Davies was standing just the other side of the tape from me and told me to get the holeshot under his breath – I was so fired up that I very nearly did it, against some much stronger riders.
This gave me the confidence to go with the leaders and fight for position. Racing with riders like Michael Butler really improve your speed so the first three or four laps were exactly what I needed. Frustratingly made an error on lap four and I burped my tyre just before the pits – it didn’t cost me much time but 10 seconds is a lot on a dry course and it meant that I missed getting on Paul Sheer’s wheel. Paul was the man on the move but my battle was with a couple of other riders – I was putting moves on them everywhere I could and really working – I felt really comfortable and as the race went on I broke away from them to secure 5th place.
This set me up nicely for a trip to Belgium – it was supposed to be a race just for fun, but the #EKCX race had given me the confidence to attack the Flandrian’s in their own backyard. The LRC is the Belgian equivalent of the London League and the round I raced was at Bellem, in the north of Flanders and featured several loops through pasture and arable land with some MX whoops thrown in for good measure. A neat section through the centre of the farmyard where the announcer was, along with the music, food, beer stand and photographers tent made it feel like racing a National Trophy!
I somehow managed to get from the back row of the grid all the way through to tenth by the first corner – once we were racing we caught the other age group quite quickly so I wasn’t sure exactly where I was in terms of position – then disaster, another tyre problem. I was near the pits but couldn’t see Pip or my spare bike, so after a mild panic she came running with it, with my warm-up jersey catching in the front wheel!
Back on and after a lap I’d made my way back to a couple of the riders I knew I could beat – I passed them and made my way back to the rider I was racing against before the tyre issue and after one final lap rolled in just behind him in 8th place – amusingly as we’d been warned by a friend who lives in Belgium, the organisers decided that there were actually another two riders who’d mysteriously finished ahead of me and credited me with 10th – still it’s only a fun race for me, so I grabbed a photo and settled for watching the pro’s do their thing at Ardooie and Koksijde.
Back from riding and racing in Flanders I headed to Happy Valley for round 7 of the London League. I’m not sure why I go well at here, but it’s pretty much always been a happy hunting ground for me. I felt strong straight away and stayed with the lead group for the first lap. I was loving the fast flat corners and the techy wooded sections – like at Bellem, the course was very dry in places and very wet in others so tyre choice was hard but I think I finally nailed it. They felt great all the way through and gave me the extra grip I needed on the slippy banks and of camber corners.
I had a great battle with a Nuun/Sigma Sport rider and after about ten laps (with only a few more to go) I finally broke him – I haven’t gone mad with the training but everything was working well and was now paying off. There are still a few riders up the road that I know I can beat but after four races I’m satisfied with how it’s going – now I need to step it up again after a rest week and improve on where I am in the London League.
London League Rd.5 – 15th Glen Whittington – 01:00:23 at plus 1 lap – out of 103 riders.
East Kent CX Rd.2 – 5th Glen Whittington – on same lap – out of 35 riders.
LRC Rd.8 – 10th Glen Whittington – on same lap – out of 34 riders.
London League Rd.7 – 6th Glen Whittington – 01:04:52 at +2:29 – out of 65 riders.
Photos by Glen Whittington, Cameron Preece, Pip Jenkins and John MX.
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, Wildside Cycles, Four4th Lights, Vee Tire Co and the.æight.bicycle.cømpany.