The thirteenth round of the LCCA league was held had Bethlem but would it be unlucky or not?…
Bethem Hospital is one of my favorite races in the Summer League races and I didn’t suffer last year’s mud fest so I was excited to see what the venue would bring. A practice lap proved that the Dulwich guys had done a great job with the course. The start loop was fast, then we went into some twisty bits and a stream crossing before it headed into the clay of the top chestnut woods. The waterlogged field cleared off the worst of the mud before you headed into the lower woods which turned into a brilliant test of side grip.
Warm up can be a bit like going through the motions but in the sub-zero temperatures that tortured South London it was completely necessary. We all kept our jackets on until the last available second and then I got my characteristically bad start – I thought i’d sorted this issue but clearly I’ve got to still work on it, but either way I headed into the first leap of the stream in about twentyish place.
Working my way through a few riders a couple of the fast guys came through from the back – Harry flew past along with a Hargroves rider. In general we all pretty much settled into riding in the groups that we were in. By the end of the first lap I’d punctured, but the tyre stayed on the rim and didn’t seem to particularly slow me down so I rode round, losing only one place in the process.
For the next four laps not a great deal happened to be quite honest – I’m kind of tired after racing thirteen round of the league and I was working as hard as I felt I could. I was passing the odd rider and keeping my eye on a couple of riders just up the road. I lost a little time when a branch caught in my front wheel but basically I was just sticking in consistent laps and enjoying the course.
On the last lap I focused in on Michael Blackman and Chris McGovern. I knew I’d have to get to the second set of woods in front of them to stand a chance. I worked as hard as I could across the waterlogged field for the last time and Chris leaped onto my wheel when I came past. We passed Shane Pope (Crawley) going into the woods and on the run up I could feel all three breathing down my neck. Jumping back on I took time to clear my cleat and clip in properly before heading to the end.
Then catching up with a lapped rider I had to make my mind up – right or left? Then my decision was replaced by instinct as the rider lost grip with their rear wheel and came off right in front of me. I went right and made it through the tiniest of gaps before getting back on the bike and sprinting up the final few climbs. My three pursuers had lost my wheel in the chaos and I capitalized on this, not daring to look back whilst I pushed home across the line in 15th place.
It was great to see Pip, Lexi, Neil, Kieran and Rob all racing on Sunday – six SDW riders must be a record at a league race!
Alec Briggs (Rollupulza)
Matt Holmes (Arctic)
Phil Glowinski (VCL)
15 – Glen Whittington (SDW) +6:37″. 39 – Neil Couchman (SDW) +1 lap. 57 – Kieran Fitzpatrick (SDW) +1 lap
Photos by John Mullineaux, Pip Jenkins and Dave Haywood.
Glen races Mountain bikes in the UK National XC Points and Eastern XC Series, Road bikes in the Surrey and Eastern Leagues, TT in the South East Region and ‘Cross in the LCCA League. He receives personal sponsorship from Helly Hansen, The Velo House, Scott Bikes and THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY.
Glen runs The Velo House with Olly and Matt, a coffee shop, workshop and bike shop welcoming all cyclists and even well behaved non-cyclists. We’re based at 5 St.Johns Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 9GW – 07541 725 606 – firstname.lastname@example.org.