Preview – Odd Down Winter Series Round One

Series points are up for grabs at round one; with only a light wind forecast and slightly warmer temperatures will this early season event prove to be a Battle Royale or a Leg Loosener?

Will Latchem Sunwise continue their dominance in the men’s series?

Latchem Sunwise bring three riders to round one and the team that dominated the summer series will look to gain an early hold on the standings at the winter series. James Dudden, Nathan Hallett and Ian Hicks will be racing in the men’s 2/3 and with Bath CC as the only club fielding more than one pre-entry it looks like it is set up to be a showdown between two of the well-established racing setups in the area, with a challenge from Bristol RC also expected as the series goes on. With no racing for several months we will be looking to see who has the best race sharpness during the off season to give us a clue as to how the series will pan out.

University teams out in force

The uni clubs of Bath and Bristol have been flourishing over the past few years, and there are six riders from across the universities entered in the 4th cat race. It is always hard to establish control over a 4th cat race, especially this early in the season – but with no points on the line will the race take on a more tactical feel? Historically the early season 4th cat races at Odd Down have been at least a match for the senior 2/3rd Cat race, with a few very strong new racers making their racing debut. It is likely we will find out who will start making waves on the local scene this year in the 4th cat races this winter and there is no better place to look than the two uni clubs.

Avid Sport make their entrance

With five 4th cat women entered, and three of those racing for the first time ever, Avid Sport is proud of the progress both the team and the individuals who are stepping up have made. With two more experienced racers to guide them, hopefully Joanna, Sarah and Aimee have a blast and make a splash on their first racing start. Sally Crocker and Lauren Johnston will have to keep their wits about them to manage the teammates as the race progresses. All eyes are on the women’s races this winter, as we try and shake up the way women’s races are run – Manchester is taking a keen interest to see if we can prove that we are making steps forward.

Fighting for the top women’s honours

In the summer series, it turned into a two horse race for the top place in the leaderboard between Charlotte Berry (Performance Cycles) and Bethany Taylor (Vertex Biemme). In the end, it was the Performance Cycles rider’s consistent high finishes that won the series and so make her a rider to watch in the upcoming winter series. With a few new faces already looking to make an appearance in the early rounds, will we see some new challengers taking to the top of the standings?

Points and Prizes – including an update on Round One

The Series:

This year will see the Odd Down Winter Series carry series points and prizes for the first time as well as scoring BC points. All points, including those scored in December rounds, will count towards a riders 2018 ranking. The races will score the following BC points:

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Round One:

Unfortunately, British Cycling have decided to downgrade Round One to a Regional C race – as a result there will be no BC points for Round One. This is something that they have imposed upon us and we are disappointed that it has worked out this way. We hope that this will open the opportunity for riders who would be racing on day licences (and therefore would not be eligible for points anyway) to give their first race a go before deciding whether to purchase a full race licence for 2018. Several riders from the Avid Sport team (including myself in the men’s 2/3), particularly in the women’s 4th cat race have already entered to take this opportunity to take their first racing steps. We appreciate all the support that local riders have given the racing at Odd Down over the last few years.

Round Two onwards:
1st 10 points (3 points if less than 10 riders in race)
2nd 8 points (2 points if less than 10 riders in race)
3rd 7 points (1 points if less than 10 riders in race)
4th 6 points (0 points if less than 10 riders in race)
5th 5 points
6th 4 points
7th 3 points
8th 2 points
9th 1 point
10th 1 point

The following series points will also be allocated to each race – full points will be awarded for each position even if there is a small field. Series points will count for all races including Round One and a rider’s best eight rounds will count (two byes):

All other races 4th cat only races
1st 50 30
2nd 45 25
3rd 40 20
4th 35 15
5th 30 10
6th 25 9
7th 20 8
8th 15 7
9th 14 6
10th 13 5
11th 12 4
12th 11 3
13th 10 2
14th 9 1
15th 8
16th 7
17th 6
18th 5
19th 4
20th 3
21st 2
22nd 1


Series Prizes will be awarded to riders based on their points total accumulated across their best eight rounds of the series. This is an equal prize fund for both the women’s and men’s series.

Series winner £100
2nd place £75
3rd place £50
4th place £40
5th place £30
6th place £25
7th place £20
8th place £15
9th place £15
10th place £15
11th place £10
12th place £10
13th place £10
14th place £10
15th place £10
Best 40 years+ £20
Best Junior £20
Best team £20


Odd Down Winter Series Preview – Series Details

The Series Dates:


The Series will run on Saturday afternoons at the Odd Down Cycling Circuit (BA2 2PR). Over the past few years the winter races at Odd Down have been well attended and have seen plenty of safe, hard racing in both the men’s and women’s races.

This year there will be ten rounds on the following dates:

Round 1: 02/12/17 – Enter – Race Report (coming soon) – Standings (coming soon)

 Round 2: 09/12/17 – Enter – Race Report (coming soon) – Standings (coming soon)

Round 3: 16/12/17 – Enter – Race Report (coming soon) – Standings (coming soon)

 Round 4: 13/01/18

Round 5: 20/01/18

 Round 6: 27/01/18

Round 7: 03/02/18

Round 8: 10/02/18

Round 9: 17/02/18

Round 10: 23/02/18

The Races:

The races will build on the format that has been tried and tested at Odd Down over the past few years. Each week there will be the following men’s races:

14:00 – 4th Cat only (35 mins + 3 laps). The ever-popular introduction to racing. These races have been very competitive over the years and Odd Down’s mix of corners and crosswinds provides the perfect place to learn your racing craft.

15:00 – 2nd/3rd Cat (35 mins + 3 laps). With a number of strong clubs and race teams in the local area, these races can ebb and flow in a variety of different ways. Fertile ground for the sprinters to pick up some early season results; they must be able to put themselves in a position to take advantage as the race is prone to splitting and strong breakaways mean that hiding is not always an option.

There will also be the following women’s races, alternating each week between the Odd and Even rounds:

Odd Rounds:

12:00 – 4th Cat Women Only (30 mins + 3 laps). Very well received in the summer, offering 4th Cat races for women has made a huge difference to the local racing scene. With riders given the chance to start their racing at an appropriate level, it has been hugely rewarding to see riders develop their racing. Riders learn to race proactively, as the riders learn not only to race… but to win.

13:00 – Elite/1st/2nd/3rd Cat Women Only (35 mins + 3 laps). The cream of the local crop. There is nowhere to hide in a strong group like this and these races give the regular racers a chance to clash for the first time in the season.

Even Rounds:

13:00 – Elite/1st/2nd/3rd/4th Cat Women Handicap pursuit (35 mins + 3 laps). These races have been a thoroughly entertaining addition to the racing programme. Tactical, fast and competitive; nobody wins one of these races without really earning it. A great opportunity to give newer racers a chance to experience racing with the top local riders and a new challenge for the stronger riders who must attempt to collaborate with their peers, as well as beating them in the finale.

The circuit:

1.5km featuring six bends (including two hairpins). That is what you can see; the wind often blows across the exposed playing fields turning the race into a battle for position and making races far more selective than a flat course would suggest. The circuit is wide and smooth, and the tarmac is surprisingly grippy, even in the wet. This means that the brave can make it stick at speed around all the twists and turns. The mistake that people make; you must wait to get back on the power out of the long hairpins as a pedal strike will punish you if you don’t.

Check back for our next post – detailing the new series points system and the prizes available.

(Photos: Elle Twentyman, Jon Curle and Tel Hogan)

Avid Sport Racing – October Wrap



It has been a terrific few months working with all the riders on the Avid Sport team and there have been some spectacular results on a local, regional and now national level. The weekend of the 28/29th October was jam packed with events and was a perfect example of why cycling is such a diverse and engaging sport. Saturday saw Jenson continue his stellar cyclocross form this season at round two of the national trophy in Abergavenny:

Round 2 cx National Trophy Location – Abergavenny

Weather – Dry, bright & windy

Mud – 1.5/10

Having previously raced at Abergavenny a few years back in the u12s, when he should have been in the u10s, (rookie Dad error) – Saturday saw the return of Jenson to Abergavenny for his 1st crack at a cx National race. Though Jenson has seen success as a rider in the local cx league, due to the low Western League numbers, his BC points have been 3 points, instead of 20, for a class win. This low points haul resulted in him being gridded 2 rows from the back; in a grid of nearly 60 riders. To add to this; a field of over 50 u16 riders would be started 2 minutes ahead of him, on the same course. Challenge on! 

Dad assumed his usual position of ‘Pit Monkey’ and the 1st whistle blew signalling the start of the u16s. These boys were quick! 2 minutes passed, the 2nd whistle sounded and the u14s were off! Before not too long the u14s were into the double pit section and Jenson had settled in; progressing steadily through his field. From the pits I had a good view of much of the course and in true cx fashion, whilst not able to be sure of his race position, I could see Jenson had passed many riders.

Half an hour had elapsed, the bell sounded and the final lap was underway. Mechanical aside, Jense was on for a finish and our return visit to Abergavenny would be a success. The chequered flag was out and the line was crossed. As is often the case with these types of races – overall positions are only learnt after the event, unless you get a podium on the day. T

he journey home was a good opportunity to catch up on how the race went. Jense enjoyed it so much he’s entered round 3 of the cx National Trophy as soon as we got back. Having asked Jense how he thought he’d got on he replied “Not sure but it felt like a top twenty finish.” He was not to be disappointed… We caught the results whilst at Mendip cx on Sunday and discovered he had indeed finished 20th and in doing so has picked up National Points! What a result!

We’re hoping now that this result will positively affect Jenson’s gridding at round 3. Who knows how he would have finished had his gridding been more favourable? Roll on Round 3!

As Jenson was wrapping up his race in Wales, Nancy Walker and Fran Bromley were also in action at a National event; this time the BUCS hill climb in the Peak District. Nancy had been building up to this event all autumn, and was hoping for a marker of the progress she has made into competitive cycling. Here is her take on the hill climb season:

This hill climbing season has been my first ever “proper” racing season. It has been such a massive journey for me that trying to sum it up succinctly is going to be difficult but I will do my best!

I guess it all started with my first ever hill rep session in mid September, 4 x 2 mins on Bloomfield road with Khem. To be honest, I really wasn’t feeling like doing a proper session after a summer of just mucking about doing 400 mile weeks riding with friends. I had zero ability in evening out the effort and would start to fade after just 30-40 seconds with each rep. By a minute in I was pretty much just crawling up the hill for the remainder of the effort. Once it was over we went out straight away for another 100k which gives an indication as to how much I cared about the session or doing it properly!

A few weeks later Felix and I had a proper chat about BUCs and targeting top 10. This really sparked my motivation to actually try and improve and to be more serious about the specific training.

Following this I did a few hill rep sessions alone on Claverton before heading back to Warwick for my first hill climb, Maxstoke.

At an average of 5% it was an interesting challenge. I was able to come 1st lady out of 3 which I guess boosted my confidence a bit. After doing much of my later practice on this hill I know I tackled it completely wrong in the hill climb! It is fully possible to big ring the whole thing, which I had been advised to do by may other competitors, but in the moment I wimped out doing most of it in my little ring. Lets just say I have pr-ed on that hill multiple times in the last couple of months!

The following weekend I did a double hill climb on Burton Dassett and Edge Hill. Un-typically, I was able to spin out there nice and slow allowing me to do a pretty decent time up Burton Dassett. That was the first hill climb/effort for which I was able to push hard through the finish which I was really happy with. After a big effort already, Edge Hill (the steeper and longer and overall harder of the two hills) became more of a question of just getting up and being able to hurt at least a little bit rather than anything else. I managed that so was quite pleased. Again I came first woman. Yes, out of 1, but it still counts right? Oh yeah and I met some nice guys Ash and Justin who gave me a fast paced ride home, allowing me to satisfyingly completely wipe out my legs.

The weekend after that was my first CTT time trial, Dovers hill. Yes I got lost. Yes I missed my start. Yes I got a mis-recorded non-win, which I will not try to explain (it was hard enough trying to explain what happened to Felix!). It was overall a masterclass in how to not compete at a hill climb. Anyway I “won” 2 camelback bottles so I’ll take that. I always wanted some of those bottles.

The weekend after that I came back to Bath for Priddy and Burrington. I was pretty nervous to be honest as I knew I’d be racing Fran and Kate and it would be hard for me not to want to compare myself to them. Anyway, going out to Priddy hill climb in the car with the others was really nice and chilled and I almost forgot about the fact that I was about to do a serious race! I was first off, so on arrival I had to try my best to get “in the zone” pretty much as soon as we got there. Doing the hill climb, my heart rate rose really quickly and it wasn’t long until I saw it at 190, far higher than I had ever seen it before. Having the support of friends on the hill for the first time was awesome and definitely helped me over the top. I enjoyed watching and supporting the others afterwards even though my lungs were burning the whole time. On reflection, I think this might have been my best performance of the whole season (yeah, BUCs didn’t go to plan 🙁 , but I’ll get to that). Anyway, I didn’t beat Fran or Kate, but I wasn’t too far off (maybe 30 secs or so) and I knew I had done my absolute best, so I didn’t mind. Also they were really encouraging about what I had done so all in all felt like a successful day!

The ride out to Burrington the following day was so nice and relaxed. When we actually arrived, we all got cold pretty quickly and my motivation was just not there. My start time was way before the others but I just wanted to hang around with everyone instead of doing my effort. This led to a sprint avoided late start which isn’t how you should start a hill climb. Anyway, on finishing my performance ok. Ok is literally the best way to put it. I was enjoying being with all my new friends so much that I wasn’t really in any racing mindset. Obviously when I got to the hill I tried my best. But I felt like I didn’t have the laser focus to suffer just that little bit more which you need to do well in hill climbs. Anyway, I did ok and it wasn’t BUCs yet so it was fine.

The following weekend was BUCS. Oddly there doesn’t seem much to so much to say about the race. I didn’t feel nervous until I started warming up maybe 30 mins to go. Then all the nerves came. I got to the start with 10 mins spare maybe more (I was NOT going to be late! ). At the start line I just felt absolutely TERRIBLE. I have never felt so nervous in all my life. I tried my usual technique of telling myself how stupid hill climbing is, but it didn’t work. About 40 seconds in to the climb, my mind starting telling my legs to stop and give up. I knew deep down that I couldn’t, enabling me to continue moving upwards. As soon as I saw the finish and the girl in front of me I was able to use that to push over the top during the last 30 seconds or so.

On sitting down at the top of the hill, the elation I felt was unreal. I was just so happy it was all over I couldn’t even think about time or position. Anyway, long story short I came 19th. Putting in an UNBELIEVABLE effort, Fran had come third and had also got a team second place of Bath. Celebrating this I was able to block out all thoughts about how I had done for most of the day until I got back home.

Once it had all sunk in I was pretty disappointed. Only 8 seconds away from my goal of top 10, I felt that I had let myself down, as really I should have been able to cut that time if my focus had been better. Anyway it was done, and 19th national university competitor is a pretty good achievement. Next year I will be back and hopefully well within that top 10.

Fran was typically understated in what was a real standout performance, and a marker of the hard work she has put in over the past few years:

A recce of the hill felt like a full gas effort, so steep and unrelenting. With a cross tail wind on the lower part you turned into a full head wind for the final few hundred meters. It was hard, steep and in every way completely horrible but there was a great crowd and support from Khem, Emily and Nancy as well as everyone else who were out there even in rubbish weather.

It was just really hard and nerves where the worst I’ve ever had… very surprised with the result!

And Saturday’s racing was not done there. Kate Baker was taking part in a team relay event in Windsor with some of the guys from the Uni of Bath. This was a 25 hour relay making the most of the extra hour as the clocks went back.

Red Bull Timelaps 28-29 October 2017

What is it? An endurance cycling event lasting 25 hours. 4 riders per team, with 1 rider per team on course at any one time.

Where? Windsor Great Park on ~6.5km closed road circuit.

Rather than an extra hour in bed, last weekend I had no hours in bed. The inaugural Red Bull Timelaps event was fast, furious, surreal and very very brutal. The event was due to take place over 25 hours (from 12pm Saturday til 12pm Sunday – clocks changed remember). Within the first hour there was a big crash and very unfortunately a rider had to be taken to hospital. I later found out he was part of one of the teams road cc had brought along – Dave Atkinson and I were chatting and he mentioned a broken pelvis.

The race re-started at 14.00 with a heightened sense of nerves and anticipation, and any distance made in the first half an hour was wiped. James Pheysey had started us off, fortunately escaping the crash. Mike Beech took over when the race re-started, and, in classic Mike style, he. was. smashing. it. After Mike came Will, James’ friend from school.

Then it was my turn. My HR was 185-190+ for my first stint of 5 laps (just under an hour), and the same for the second stint. Unsurprisingly, I felt sick for most of my second stint – it was genuinely like doing a flat out crit after having just done a flat out crit. When I got back to the pits and after a few tears, I realized I couldn’t keep doing maximal efforts clinging on to wheels for the hours to follow, so I knew from then I was going to watch my HR and aim for more of a sweetspot effort, working in groups where I felt I could manage it, not where I felt like I was going to blow up every other minute.

Riding around Windsor park at 4am was quite surreal, and at 5am when I got off my bike after my fourth stint I headed to the (awesome) heated marquee to try and nap for a bit. When I woke up on the comfortable (*ahem*) bench, it was daylight again! Very surreal. After that nap, I chatted with Heather Fell (Ironman machine and GTN presenter) for a bit before heading out for my final stint.

I’d joined a chain gang near the beginning of this stint, but I’d fallen off the group when I felt I needed to take a gel and we’d just hit the little stinger of a climb on the circuit (I swear it actually got steeper the more we rode it). A big part of me wanted to be with the group, but a bigger part knew I was done in and so just took the gel and rode round with whatever I had left (not much). My HR average for the final stint was 165, just a “small” drop off from where I’d started – no surprises there.

It was an incredibly tough event, and I’ve only scratched the surface of what it was like, but I would genuinely recommend trying it for yourselves, assuming Red Bull put it on again next year. Maybe we could get an Avid Team going!



Avid Sport Racing – Race Reports 07/10/17-15/10/17

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!

Avid Sport Racing – Race Reports 30/09-01/10

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!

Cheers mate. 
Roll on next year’s ride!



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!

Other Hills of Bath Sportive – Results

Thank you to all the riders who took part in the event on Saturday. You guys all rode fantastically and I hope you enjoyed the hills!

Here are the finish times in number order.

1 Kevin Boyd 04:31:18 Short Route
2 Kitty Boyd-Nash 04:31:18 Short Route U16
3 Alison Diegutis 04:20:50 Short Route
4 Peter Dunlop 03:08:02 Short Route
6 Martin Harris 04:11:12 Short Route
7 Murray Hogge 03:39:40 Short Route
8 Emily Hogge 03:39:40 Short Route
9 Richard Jewitt 03:17:50 Short Route
10 Keisha Michael 03:57:11 Short Route
11 Joshua Redman 04:08:28 Short Route U16
12 Alison Redman 04:08:28 Short Route
13 Gary Young 03:58:20 Short Route
14 Jenson Harris 04:11:12 Short Route U16
15 Will Jewitt 03:17:50 Short Route U16
16 Gordon Aitkenhead 04:45:12 Long Route
17 James Brook 03:36:58 Long Route
18 Richard Brookes 04:17:21 Long Route
19 Nigel Burford 03:43:10 Long Route
20 Claire Cotrell 04:15:29 Long Route
21 Jamie Courtenay 03:50:47 Long Route
22 Mark Harris 04:50:11 Long Route
23 Vanessa Hawkins 05:28:03 Long Route
24 Simon Hewitt 03:24:24 Short Route
25 Paul Hirst 04:01:17 Long Route
26 Nigel Keen 04:38:33 Long Route
27 Strachan McCormick 03:31:36 Long Route
28 Nick Nelson-Piercy 04:38:33 Long Route
29 Marc Oakley 04:18:32 Long Route
30 Lynette Porter 05:28:03 Long Route
31 David Simpson 05:07:49 Long Route
33 Ben Stocks 05:45:59 Long Route
35 Nathaniel Brookes 04:17:21 Long Route U16
36 Will Hewitt 03:24:24 Short Route
37 Felix Chan 05:45:59 Long Route
38 Aimee Parsons 04:03:55 Long Route
39 Paul Skinner 03:47:06 Long Route
40 Paul Matthews 04:24:50 Long Route
41 Joanna Goodhead 03:56:41 Short Route
42 Paul Dunlop 03:08:02 Short Route
43 Harry Tucker 02:42:12 Long Route
44 Paul Taylor 03:11:23 Long Route

Avid Sport Racing – Race Reports 24/09/17

Another week, another collection of fine performances by Avid Sport’s riders. Harry Tucker and Team Crowther (Colette, Isobel, Sarah and Chris) were in action at the Sulis Scorpions Club Hill climb at Burrington Combe. Harry stormed to the win, beating Chris out into second place with the only sub 10 minute times of the day (8:37 and 9:59 respectively). Sarah was fastest senior female with a time of 14:24, setting off just behind the Sulis Scorpions girls who put on a fantastic race – Ellie Wallbaum (13:55) claiming the club honours from Josie Vallis (15:04) Isobel and Colette (15:18 and 15:56). Great racing by all and thank you to Somer Valley CC and the Sulis Scorpions for putting on such a great event!

Avid Sport also had racers in action at the cross, with Karen Spiteri back racing again in the women’s race and Jenson Harris looking to back up his win in the U14 race in Keynsham with another strong performance. Here is Martin Harris’ race report:

Weather – Warm and Sunny

Mud Rating (1 – 10) – 1

Following a recent visit to Cheltenham for the Tour of Britain support races with the Cheltenham Tewksbury and Winchcombe Wheelers (CTW), we found ourselves back at Pittville Park, for Round 4 of the Western League Winter CX.

From last year the sign on had been moved to the edge of the car park; which this year made for a smooth transition from car park to race field, via the sign on.

Within minutes the sign on process was complete. Jenson had his timing chip and race number and headed out for a recce before the under 12s started.
The course was mud free due to the recent warm, dry spells and though technical in places; would make for a fast lap.

The under 12s race was completed with some great close racing at the front with Elen Ruck from the Sulis Scorpions taking the win; with Chloe from Tri Team Glos taking a close 2nd. This was a reversal of fortunes from ShamXross the previous week, where Chloe took the win over Elen.

This looks to be a pair of riders worth keeping an eye on; as both riders appear to be very closely matched on both ability and determination.

11am was soon upon us and the u14 & u16 Youth riders were assembled for their mandatory keep it clean and no swearing brief.

A briefing that some of the adult riders should, perhaps, take note of?

Following a short countdown, the race started and with high energy; the pedals began to spin.

The Youths were off!

As per the form book, Henry Johnson from Cheltenham & County CC was out front with Josh Mitchell from the Midlands in hot pursuit. The first lap would see Henry drop quite a few places due to an uncharacteristic crash; involving a tree. This bunched the chasing group and the race was well and truly on!

Henry kept his composure and before not too long was back in contention with the lead group.

As the race unfolded, Henry and Josh were clearly on the front with Jacob Hardy (Cheltenham & County CC) on the chase.

Fourth and Fifth place was occupied by Bryn Ruck of BCDS and Jenson Harris of Avid Sport. With strength triumphing over experience, the order would remain as this until BCDS rider Bryn unfortunately threw a chain, whilst traversing the hurdles. Seeing the opportunity, Avid rider, Jenson Harris powered past in an attempt to make the most of Bryn’s misfortune. After all… this is racing!

Having quickly rectified the thrown chain, Bryn was having none of it and was soon back in the saddle to chase down the small gap to Jenson.

Before not too long Bryn and Jenson were back together, riding the same patch of grass; as were Henry and Josh further up the line, with Jacob Hardy still sitting comfortably between the two pairs, all be it by a gap.

The order would remain as this until the final lap.

The bell sounded as Henry and Josh crossed the line in tandem; with Josh taking the position of ‘stoker’. Now the time had come for riders to hatch whatever final plan they had been crafting during the race.

The lead riders disappeared into the woods and this was their last chance for glory…

Standing from the ‘pits-ville’ (do you see what I did there?) it’s never easy to see all of what goes on but; with the layout of the Pittville course I did have a good view of the riders crossing the infield as they headed to that all important final corner.

Who would be on the front as they came back into view and would it go down to a final sprint?

First back into view would be Henry Johnson; with a clear gap to Josh Mitchell in 2nd and Jacob Hardy in 3rd.

After a small gap – Bryn and Jenson were battling over 4th and 5th.

At this point, crashing aside; 1st, 2nd & 3rd was a done deal and the battle for 4th and 5th would be decided with a finish line sprint.

The end of the race for the overall podium was uninterrupted and finished without incident; with Henry taking the win by 21 seconds from Josh; and Jacob following 13 seconds behind in 3rd.

The fight for 4th was probably the closest yet of this season.

Bryn and Jenson left the final corner level and as they wound up the final sprint up on the home straight;Jenson of Avid Sport eventually pulled out by half a bike to take 4th which was finally classified equal on time to Bryn’s 5th. Wow! Top riding guys! (Ed.: Jenson again wrapping up the U14 victory)

Local rider Finn Searle of Salt & Sham, crossed the line in 8th place with the top female rider, Ella Shaftoe crossing the line line in 9th position.

A special mention mention to BCDS rider, Jakob Hudson who despite a puncture; finished in 10th place by shouldering his bike over the line.

A big thank you to Cheltenham & County CC for a fab day of racing.

Job well done!

Avid Sport Racing – Race Reports

Mayhem in Minehead and ShamXross is Boss

Here’s Paul Taylor’s take on the Avid outing to Minehead from the U12’s perspective.
“Tom took a break from CX this weekend to race at the Minehead festival of cycling on a superb 1.1km street circuit within the seaside town centre. With a forecast of rain we were expecting a sketchy race but the weather held although drama came from another direction!

“The start was superfast and Tom was caught on the back foot whilst trying to clip-in but got back on to the lead group going into the second lap. With the guys pushing a hard pace the bunch was whittled down to five riders going into the final lap where Tom positioned himself in second wheel. Unbeknown to the leading riders a barrier had fallen over behind them into the path of one of the young riders who was catapulted over the handlebars. By now the leading bunch were at full gas and Tom made an early attack giving himself a significant lead up to the finish line with certain victory in his grasp.

“Unfortunately for the Clevedon rider the commissaires stopped the race on the finish line and set about sorting out the results of the race as some kids were caught behind the crashed rider. The decision was made to take the result of the order in which the riders passed the finish line on the penultimate lap. When the dust settled Tom was awarded 2nd place. A great event and definitely one to put on the calendar for 2018!”


The following weekend, the riders were back in action, this time on the grass at ShamXross in the Western Cyclocross League. Here are the thoughts of Martin Harris as Jenson took Avid Sport’s first ever victory!

“Well what can I say? If Carlsberg did local Cyclocross… This would be it. Each time we visit Keynsham for Cyclocross, Salt & Sham (SAS) cycle club manage to raise the bar that little bit higher.
“Our 1st trip to Somerdale was approximately 18 months ago for the schools’ Cyclocross. The course had been built from scratch. Back then the long grass, though cut and raked, was challenging. I’m pretty sure that afternoon, we had children’s bikes with broken hangers and mangled derailleurs.
“Since then, the course has been used for a round each of the Western League’s Winter and Summer CX and this was the 2nd time for the Winter CX. The course goes from strength to strength and never disappoints. The effort and time put in to this venue is clear to see and is testament to how dedicated the SAS recruited volunteers are to give other riders the best racing experience they can.
“This winter round saw the addition of 2 new banked sections and the addition of a Sandpit! The Sandpit that would later prove to be the source of much entertainment for the baying crowds. It seems to be human nature that people like to celebrate other people’s miss-fortunes and the sandpit would be a regular source of ooohs and aaaaahs as the riders pitted themselves against the sand-trap.
“As per previous visits there was the spiral of doom and I’m sure this grows in size from round to round.
“The atmosphere was amazing. The music, the crowds cheering and the ringing of cowbells was constant. The air was filled with the smell of fresh Burgers and Hot dogs. The Coffee flowed, the crowds remained to support throughout the day and from the youngest of Children, to the most mature of riders; the racing was fierce. Everyone gave their all.
“The Avid Sport riders, put in some strong performances; on the bounce from the Minehead Crits. Felix: Jenson and Tom rode superbly to lock out the top two spots in the U14 race. It was great to see so many of the team racing, with Sam Butters in the U16 race, Harry Tucker in the Juniors and Molly Hodges racing her first cross race in the women’s race. Well done to all!
“This has no doubt helped cement a great foundation, on which to build their future… This is a team that’s going places!
“A massive ‘thank you’ to Salt and Sham for their tireless efforts; to provide what has to be one of thee best local races in the South.
“I hope this is a venue to be considered for the British Cycling Southern Regional Championships… It certainly has what is required and then some…
“Roll on 2018!

Odd Down Women’s Summer Series

Avid Sport, in collaboration with Better (operators of Odd Down Sports Ground) and VC Walcot will be organising the Odd Down Women’s Summer Series 2017. Running from May to July on Thursday Evenings, this series of 12 events gives women of all abilities and experiences the chance to race competitively on a consistent basis throughout the early summer.

The first two rounds will feature coach-led racing with Felix Young – a chance for new racers to gain some confidence and learn some of the technical skills needed for bunch racing. The sessions will be at 7:45pm and will cost £2. Read this great write up of this winter’s coach-led racing and pursuit race (see next paragraph).

The odd numbered rounds, starting with round 3 will feature a women-only E/1/2/3/4 pursuit – using the same format as was used this winter at Odd Down. This gives the chance for newer riders to race amongst their peers to hold of the more experienced racers. It led to fast competitive racing this winter and changed the dynamic of women’s racing at Odd Down. Races will be again at 7:45pm will cost £12 to enter in advance or £15 on the day.

The even rounds, starting with round 4 will feature both a women-only 4th cat race and a women’s E/1/2/3. This is another chance for new racers to get into competition, and I firmly believe that if we can achieve the distinction between 4th cat and the higher categories we will be able to retain new racers and grow the field sizes in women’s racing to new heights. The E/1/2/3 will be a mass start race, rather than the pursuit format used in the winter. The 4th cat race will be at 7:00pm and the E/1/2/3 race will be at 7:45pm and both will cost £12 to enter in advance and £15 on the day.

We look forward to seeing you at Odd Down this summer!