Dave Belcher crop lo

Four Sotonia riders lined up at Newbury today for the first race of the season. Phil Connell, Simon Guard and Jez Hart in the vets and Dave Belcher (pictured) in the Seniors. The race was held at a new venue in mainly dry conditions (except for the Seniors race when it tipped down) – the Mary Hare School and the organisers cooked up one helluva course.

It was HUGE at 1.5 miles long and with a long, fast sweeping start around the playing fields then bumped your way round the grassy edge, through the woods an up the big 10%+ hill which was so bouncy I thought my wheels were square. Down through the campus for a bit of slippy tarmac, through an arch, up stone steps, down gravel drive and finished up with a spiral that went on forever before the final straight and repeat x 5.

The Vets race was big with over 90 riders and after a fast start, Simon and Jez began to move up through the field – not as quickly as Phil though, who was loving all the technical bits and was out of view after lap one, proving that having a saddle that doesn’t fall off, does make you faster. We thought cross racing was every man for himself, but Simon and Jez stayed together for the whole race swapping turns on the front (which came in handy on the windy playing field sections). In the Vets 40-49 category, Phil came 20th, Simon 23rd and Jez 24th.

Crispin Doyle of Hargroves Cycles won the Vets, then, because 40 minutes of full-on racing was just not enough, he did the Senior race and came third!!

Dave Belcher finished 43rd out of 47 in the senior race.