Avid Sport’s riders have been busy at the races again over the past few weeks as we approach the end of the hill climb season and the cyclocross season gets into full swing. There has even been some crit racing…
Saturday 7th October saw the Sulis Scorpions Club Championships, and so the Avid Sport youngsters were out in force. Harry Tucker took a commanding race in the U16s, ahead of Will Jewitt who was sprinting against Jenson Harris (who took the U14 prize). Tom Taylor also put in a great performance behind Jenson in the U14s and Team Crowther were competing in the girls’ races. Isobel found herself in a toe-to-toe battle with Ellie Wallbaum:
The 2017 Sulis Scorpion championships were run in what can only be described as Flandrian conditions – it was going to be a Rule #9 day! The U12 race was 20 mins + 1 lap on the bottom of the Odd Down circuit. The Mass Start race was exactly that – the boys field (about 12) set off first followed by the Girls (4 girls) a few seconds later.
The race settled quickly with the girls working well as a 4 person team to catch Dylan and Malin who were working equally hard to catch Tom – but Tom was too strong and was not going to be seen again!
After 3 laps, the girls start to slow up so I put the hammer down to make the break across to Dylan and Malin. This took the best part of 3 laps and probably burned up all the “matches” in the Team Crowther box. Thankfully, Malin and Dylan were happy to continue to do the work and this allowed me to tuck in and recover.
At this stage, I had 20 sec on Ellie who was working hard to cross the gap. With 4 mins to go to the bell lap, Ellie was gaining but our little gruppetto of three had done enough to stay away. On the bell lap, the group settled down for the sprint. Malin and Dylan had done most of the work so it would have been unfair to contest the sprint and I knew I had the girls race in the bag.Tom had taken gold for the boys, Malin and Dylan fought it out for the remainder of the podium places and I rolled over in 4th overall and winning girl. At that point, my biggest thought was getting warm and dry – it was a very exciting and tactical race that came down to making the break. Despite the conditions there was no crashes and standard was high – all credit to the Scorpions training regime. Looking forward to the winter season and getting ready for 2018.
The following Sunday, the cross was back on the agenda at Hengrove. The blue train was again out in force, with Sam Butters signalling a further step forward in his form, riding into 4th place in the U16 race, but with both riders continuing to get closer to second placed rider Harry Denness week on week. Jenson and Tom were again the class of the U14 field, taking first and second, with Jenson finishing with a wheelie, just off the overall podium for the combined race.
Nancy Walker was also racing on the 8th at Coventry CC’s double hill climb just south of Warwick. She has been training on one of the climbs – Edge Hill so was well prepared for the task at hand and put in another sterling effort as she continues to build towards the BUCS hill climb at the end of October. Nancy has been getting some serious racing in this autumn as she builds her experience ahead of the 2018 season, and she was straight back in action the following weekend at the Birmingham Uni crit – Nancy’s first ever criterium race. The course proved to be not too technical, and Nancy settled in to get a result in what turned out to be a tactical race. In the end, Nancy’s inexperience caught her out, as she was the first to blink; putting the pedal to the metal with 1.5 laps to go. She rode enough riders off the wheel to secure third place, but was jumped by two riders in the closing metres. She was again racing on the Sunday, at the Dover’s Hill Climb at Weston-sub-Edge. Nancy will be the first to admit that things could have gone better, as she got lost on her way to the start and missed her start time. She took a 30s penalty, and gave it her all to try and get the best result that she could. In the end, her time would have had her right in the mix for the podium, but with the penalty time she dropped out of contention. Again, lessons learnt and another good indicator that the form is there.
The Bath CC hill climb went a bit smoother for the Avid Riders. First up were Isobel and Colette Crowther, who were in a race with Josie Vallis for the U15 girls prize. They battled the severe gradients brilliantly and were just pipped by Josie for the win. Will Jewitt came charging up the hill next, and if he made it look easy, he may have left too much in the tank as he didn’t manage to match his training time on the same climb. This meant he missed out on the youth win by a few seconds, but was still on the podium with his dad for the family prize. Richard pulling out a pipe to entertain the crowd midway up the climb didn’t stop them taking the honours. In the women’s race, Aimee Parsons was making her first ever racing appearance. And what a start she made, taking third place and putting several more experienced racers to the sword!
Deciding to park at Midford, pre-empting the busy car park at the trek centre in Wellow was a good idea, I met a lovely cyclist attending the same event and we pootled along the last bit of the two tunnels together. As soon as we got to Wellow we did a recci of the hill, which I’ve only every cycled down, a few weeks prior on the other hills of Bath Avid sport sportif- that was fun, so I knew this would be hard! The course itself starts at a gentle gradient so you can get a little speed up, then it ramps up the intensity and that’s when the lungs started to burn! I was definitely smiling at the first couple of people shouting ‘power’ at the top of their lungs. But once reaching the top bend containing all the spectators and of course the camera man the smile had turned into more of a grimace. You know the flat is just meters away and there were plenty of cowbells and ‘hups’ to keep me going all the way to the finish. A short cool down at the top of hill and then partial decent to where the spectators were to cheer on other participants. I had no idea how I had done, but had a great morning meeting lots of friendly people who were more than willing to share their knowledge and expertise with me on my first race. So coming 3rd female was a fab ending and very much unexpected!
Harry Tucker put in the star performance though. Faced with a high quality junior field, including Ben Wainwright who had been only 0.3 seconds shy of Harry’s time at the VC Walcot hill climb. Harry was on fine form though, and took the win by a comfortable five seconds from Ben and 15 from Jacques Coates of Performance Cycles, who had looked very dangerous coming by a few minutes ahead of Harry. Good work captain!
And that was not all for the racing, with the cross race in Stroud. Sam was away, but Karen made a return to racing and Jenson and Tom were there as well, looking to continue their dominance in the U14 race. Jenson and Tom found themselves up against a new challenger in the U14 race from the Midlands League; Dom Switzer. The fight for the win ended up as a late dash between Jenson and Dom, with Salt and Sham’s Harry Denness in the mix as well. Jenson was beaten by the other two down into 2nd U14 and 5th overall, but as in the last few weeks can take great heart as he climbs his way up the field and brings himself closer into the fight at the very front. Tom Taylor is also getting closer to the older riders at the front, and found himself with a BCDS-shaped shadow for the second week in a row:
Tom was left with his BCDS nemesis glued to his wheel throughout the whole race despite numerous attempts to ‘break the elastic’ . It was setting up for a repeat of last weeks sprint finish until the duo came to the hurdles on the last lap and the BCDS rider made a mistake under pressure. The Avid rider saw this was his moment and put in an attack and together with his cool head cruised in ahead of his rival by a significant margin.
Fantastic racing by all, thank you to Isobel, Aimee and Paul Taylor for the words, looking forward to the rest of the racing this month!
It was a busy weekend again for Avid Sport and its riders, to close out September and bring in October with new kit and lots more big performances.
Saturday featured the first Avid Sport “Other Hills of Bath” Sportive, starting at Odd Down and taking in twelve of Bath’s finest hidden climbs. It was a chance for the young racers to ride alongside their parents.
Ride report: ‘The other hills of Bath’.
Saturday saw Jenson and I embarking on ‘The other hills of Bath’. 50k of Bath’s finest hills. We had decided not to hit 80k as Jenson was racing cx on the Sunday.
We’d got to Odd Down Cycle in Bath in plenty of time for our start and signed on. Numbers were issued, affixed and soon we were off.
I took the lead out and with a nice bright dry morning; the pace was brisk but comfortable.
We were all riding our own pace until we hit our first hill. I naturally started to drop back as the younger, fitter riders; one by one passed me.
Oh and the mature gentleman, on his hybrid bike, with a PE bag on his back and his hi viz vest flapping in the wind. He passed me too.
It turned out this guy could climb…. A perfect example of why a book should not be judged by its cover. (Not that we did…)
We later found out this was Felix’s dad.
Hills are a thing I never shy away from but neither have I excelled at them. For me; Saturday was just the ticket for a nice local challenge ride.
The pace was good. The organisation was smooth. Refreshments – plentiful; with signage clear and regular. Felix Young had even managed to arrange some decent weather!
Following the local support sportive organised when the Matrix Tour came to Bath; this was Felix’s 2nd local sportive and it was clear to see, lessons were learnt from the first.
A massive thank you to Felix and the team at Avid Sport for putting on such a great ride.
Also: A special thank you to my wing man, Youth Shammer – Jenson Harris, who in true Shammer style; never left me behind… Although he could have and got back for his complimentary hot drink so much sooner!
After Saturday’s sportive, it was time to get back into the cyclocross and hill climb season, both which were in full swing with eight Avid Sport riders competing up and down the country. Nancy Walker took her first Avid Sport win at the Coventry CC hill climb on Maxstoke Hill – here is a morning in the life of a student hillclimber:
7:30am I wake up
9:00am Coffee, VERY important
9:15am Planned leaving time
9:25am I solo out to Maxstoke
10:15am I arrive at the bottom of the climb. I spin it out, seems shorter than I remember. I feel ready though the gradient is such that I’m not sure whether to start in my big ring or my small ring. Oh well, I have ages to decide.
10:30am My friend and Warwick teammate Jamie shows up. He reckons it’s ‘big ring-able’. I’m still not sure.
10:45am I sign on. Lets go second, it will be good to get the pain over with! I warm up for 10 minutes (probably should’ve done a bit more but I’m a pro when it comes to faffing about and there is not enough time for any more) and descend to the start.
11:05am “30 seconds”. I get onto my bike. “I don’t feel stable”, “Please hold me straight”, “You’re not holding me straight!”. “10 seconds”. I have to get over myself now. “Good luck!”. I’m in my small ring. I start pedalling, trying to keep my cadence high. I can start to hear myself breathing. It gets heavier and heavier until I’m not sure that I should push it much more. At the top there is a final flat section which I know when I get to I will have to whack up my gears and give all I have left. ‘Just keep this up until the final straight’ I think to myself. One final kick up, I stand and grind as hard as I can. As I come over the top I shift up, sit down and grab the drops ready to battle into the headwind right up to the line. Crossing the line I look down at my Garmin. Not quite as quick as I was hoping for but my throat is dry and sore as it should be. After slowly pedalling on for about a minute I turn back to cheer on Jamie and watch the results come in. Jamie smashes it with a time of 4:29 to take 2nd male and its a 1st female for me – all in all a successful day for team Warwick!
11:45am-ish I head home for a well earned hot shower and massive lunch!
So, a great start to hill climb season for Nancy as she builds up towards the BUCS hill climb at the end of October. The big local hill climb was the VC Walcot hill climb, and the crowds were out in force for one of the highlights of the local racing calendar. With three Avid Sport riders in the women’s field, including defending champion Kate Baker, things were looking good for a big result.
As it turns out, Kate was pulling her now traditional pain faces in the middle of a closely packed podium, with just over a second separating first place (VC Walcot’s Becca Dobbs – 3:02.5) and third placed Emily Slavin (Uni of Bath – 3:03.9), with Kate in second with a time of 3:03.5. Fran Bromley was fourth with a time of 3:09.0 and Molly Hodges took on another discipline far from her favourite TTs, following on from her virtuoso in the cross with a time of 4:06.
Harry Tucker was also racing, and nicked second place in the junior men’s by 0.3 seconds from friend and rival Ben Wainwright (Team Tor 2000) with a time of 2:32.1. Harry finished behind the class of the local junior hill climbing scene – Morgan Curle (BCDS); who battled through a convoy of Morgan convertibles to shine with a time of 2:21.4 (despite some controversy on the podium where it appeared Felix was trying to secure the win for Avid as part of the organising committee – sorry Morgan!).
And that was not all – the Western League cyclocross was on at Netham Park. The Avid Sport boys in the U16 and U14 race were looking sharp in their new Avid Sport kit and put on a show to justify the new look.
All three Avid Sport riders made an excellent start.
The riders collaborated behind the two leaders to drive the chase group away from the rest of the field.
Sam and Jenson were keeping the pace high.
And Tom showed a great turn of speed to recover after being caught behind a crash.
Jenson won the group sprint to finish 3rd overall and first u14, Tom and Sam were just behind in 5th (1st U14) and 6th (4th U16) respectively. A tremendous ride by all, summed up in his understated manner by Sam:
Last Sunday was the fifth round of the Western League in Bristol and it was also the first outing in the new kit. After the first lap, small groups began to emerge. I found myself with Tom, Jenson and a lad from the midlands. We stayed together for the rest of the race until Jenson attacked on the last lap, tearing our legs off and taking third overall in the process. Overall a decent day out.
Thanks to all the riders, who have been a joy to work with over the past few weeks and have been putting in some seriously impressive performances. Coming up next, this weekend’s races feature the Sulis Scorpions Club Championships for the youth riders to get back to circuit racing, Fran and Nancy are back on the hill climbs and the next round of the Western League cross. Thanks also to the parents who took most of the photos above and do the leg work getting the riders to all these events!
Thanks to Stuart Lessels who was out on the circuit taking photos, the link to his photo gallery is here. You can download a digital copy for £1 - let's make sure it is worth his effort to come and take photos in the rain! www.1000th.co.uk/f458883136
See you all for round two this weekend, entries close on Thursday evening.