Crabwood CX 3.1.2016_seniors_after

Some would describe “classic cross” conditions conditions with talk of shoes lost in muddy fields, throwing bikes across rivers and scaling four bar fences. There wasn’t so much of that last weekend at Southampton Sports Centre for the Geoff Shergold Memorial Wessex Cyclocross, but it was unanimously agreed that these were the worst conditions at Southampton for many years… still, I’m sure Geoff was looking down and smiling to himself!

One of the best ways to warm-up for a cross race is to pre-ride the course, thereby getting a feel for the conditions and what lines to take in technical sections. But with enough mud to leave you caked head to foot before the race even started, not this time! Many used a nearby road or saved their energy for the onslaught ahead.

With very heavy rain and gale force winds, the youth and v50 races faced the brunt of the weather gods. Riders also had to contend with inches of thick, energy sapping, wet mud with streaming torrents of rainwater washing down the hillside creating the odd paddling pool here and there. The uphill start straight led to a mass wheel spin with mud thrown into many an eye as the riders sped towards the woods at the top of the course. Once there, most dismounted and pushed their way through the deep, sticky stuff before a brief descent then up again on a path through the waterlogged bmx pump track. Then it was up and down on the course that featured very little flat terrain and descents that still required effort if you didn’t want to grind to a halt.

Sotonia’s first brave riders were young George Connell and Louis Kirk in the U12s. In the V50s we had John Phillips (PB and 20th place) and in the women’s race Gemma Wilks gave it her best (11th place woman).

In the v40s we had Phil Connell and Jez Hart with Phil in 19th place, faring better in the heavy conditions that suited a time-trialler.

The final seniors race saw the weather do a dramatic u-turn with sun, blue skies and little wind. The mud was still looking for more victims though and Sotonia had three – Tom Budden, Phil Wilks and Tobie Charlton. Tom again rode to a top ten in 7th place, followed by Phil with a PB for 12th and Tobie 16th.

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Phil Wilks described his race: I think that last lap was the hardest effort I’ve ever done. 8 minutes at 189bpm after 45 mins at threshold!”[/quote]


A big thanks to Crabwood for putting on the event in testing conditions and to all our riders, supporters and pit crew who got nearly as muddy as the racers!

There’s a week’s break now before the next round of the Wessex Cyclocross at Fairthorne Manor, Botley on January 17th – hopefully it won’t take that long to get the bikes and kit clean!

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