Hot ‘Cross Fun

Matthew Webber - Kona

My ‘cross bike has been having a well-earned rest for the past couple of months, taking it easy and leaving it all to the MTB. I rode the Gorrick Spring Series after the cyclocross season ended and I’m now three quarters of the way through the infamous Beastway series in London.

It’s been great fun and I’ve been pleased with my results, but it’s cyclocross that really fuels my cycling enthusiasm, and I’ve been very excited about getting back on the Major Jake after a bit of a time off.

Last year, the ‘cross season began with four late summer races at Herne Hill and Bethlem, but this year the ‘Summer Series’ has been extended and brought forward by a month, brightening up an already-bright July, and promising a great pre-season warm-up at South London’s newest cyclocross venue – Bethlem Royal Hospital.

Shaun Bayliss and some enthusiastic volunteers have worked hard to put this course together, clearing trails and mowing pathways and, if Monday’s sweltering race is anything to go by, their work has paid off! The course was fast and furious, but with enough twist, turns, roots and obstacles to keep even the most demanding off-roaders happy.

I lined up alongside a host of familiar faces in the evening sunshine and we charged off on the whistle, after the usual pre-race pep talk from John Mullineaux, a mainstay of cycle sport in the South East.

I got a good gap on the first lap with Jack Finch of PMR and we made the most of the clear run out into the open fields at the back of the course – hammering it round to the hurdles and an unnervingly large ramp. A clear run through the singletrackwooded section put me clear of Jack and I kept him at bay through the start/finish.

I was really enjoying the course and spent my laps trying to perfect the trickier sections, notably a hairpin uphill left-hander that caught me out a couple of times and a gravel strewn bend that gave me a high-speed scare on more than one occasion.

I stayed upright though, and stayed clear for the win, with Jules Birks of VCL fighting back up to 2ndplace after a puncture and Jack Finch managing 3rd after rolling a tub.

A great race to begin what promises to be a very exciting addition to the cyclocross calendar. Bring on Round 2!