It was another quality new Wessex course at Abingdon on Sunday, run by Take 3 Tri that definitely had its fair share of mishaps for riders. There were drier, warmer conditions than recent weeks foul weather but the Cross Gods were in no mood to take the day off.

The fast but bumpy ground normally used as a 4×4 driving range led to plenty of punctures. Much of the course had a stony base below a layer of grass and slippy clay-like mud that either pulled you back or spat you out sideways, then long tarmac runway straights into a head wind (an airfield is always going to be windy!) with barriers and a spiral at the end of the lap before the final tarmac straight to the finish. Power-hungry technical conditions meant you had to ride hard throughout whilst leaning all over the bike to balance and stay upright.


Top three for Tom Budden

Saving the best until last, the senior race served up a fantastic result for Sotonia with Tom Budden finally reaching the podium, taking second place after a season of great results that have been creeping ever higher.

Matteo Ichino and David Baxter also had a great races, finishing with PBs 15th and 19th. Special mention to Tobie Charlton, who punctured after just 150 metres and ran the next four laps before Niels Langhout (retired with a broken bike) lent him a wheel to finish the race.

Tom described the action:

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”I was with Joe Hickerton (Eden Veranda) for most of the race, taking turns in front. Each lap there was a little gap getting bigger behind us – a couple of Pedal On guys (Jamie Norfolk and Chris Minter) and Graham Rogerson of Cotswold. Then with 2-3 laps to go, I got a bit of a gap and maybe finished 15 to 20 seconds ahead. The course really suited me! There were long bumpy sections with a slippery muddy top surface so it was all about getting a the power down smoothly. Lots of people with pinch punctures – maybe down to the bumpy and rocky stuff under the mud. Unfortunately they didn’t do a podium as there was some problem with timing system… the one race I get in the top three!”[/quote]

Tobie Charlton was typically upbeat about his race:

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”Tom had the added bonus of lapping me twice (I punctured in the first 150 metres) so with no pit bike, I did get to cheer him on a couple of times. I ran to 40 minutes then blagged a wheel off Niels Langhout, nearly rolled the tub, came back to the pits for more air and also punctured the front on the last lap… its all about those points!!!”[/quote]

In the other races, young Max Darnton took 20th in the U12s. In the v40s, Phil Connell and Jez Hart featured and after a fast first lap, things started to heat up. Phil slipped off first on a slick corner, dropping his chain and for the next three laps Jez led Phil by around 10 seconds. The cross Gods were back on lap four as they ensured Jez made a detailed inspection of a bramble bush on one of the muddy banks when his front wheel slid out. He was nicely scratched up after that and Phil’s group caught him shortly after. On the next lap, a Beeline rider in the group got it all wrong and took both Sotonia riders down on another muddy banking. Phil untangled first and got a gap while Jez had course tape and another bike to free himself from first. Thankfully, that was it for excitement, Phil finishing 24th with Jez a pretty beat up 30th. John Phillips was the sole Sotonia v50 rider had another good race to finish 24th.

Next week we’re off to Tidworth Army Barracks for the final race of the season – should be a cracker for spectators and riders alike!

Full results are here

Graham Robins’ photo gallery is here