A second visit to Fairthorne Manor this season for Wessex Cyclocross brought a dip in temperature and a change of course, which was run in the opposite direction to previous visits. Grass meadows and two wooded sections were the order of the day – the hillside woods featuring plenty of deep, sloppy mud that forced riders off their bikes to run for much of it. It was a bitterly cold and wet day but that didn’t deter a large field for the under 12s featuring three young Sotonia riders – Ben Darnton in 20th place followed by George Connell (43rd) and Louis Kirk (45th).

Vets races

In the v40 race, Phil Connell and Jez Hart resumed their weekly battle. Starting from the second row, both got good starts and were in the top 20 approaching the woods for the first time. They spent the race swapping places before Phil gained a small gap when Jez pitted with two laps to go. In the final sprint, Phil held on to finish 18th a couple of bike lengths ahead of Jez in 19th (we’re pretty sure they weren’t holding back judging by the pics!). In the v50s, John Phillips was also having a good race until a puncture with over a lap to go, forced him to run the remainder, finishing in 28th place.

Womens race

Phil Wilks reports: “Around 20 started the women’s race, with Gemma Wilks representing Sotonia gridded on the second row in 11th position. I was on pit duty. She soon began picking off those ahead of her, although dropping her Garmin while swapping bikes on the second lap cost her about 20 seconds and two places which she then had to make up again. On the final lap she managed to dig deep and pass Elise Sherwell from Blazing Saddles Cycles to finish in an excellent 7th place, a personal best and her first finish in the top 10.

Senior race

The seniors race saw Tom Budden, Tobie Charlton, Phil Godfrey, David Baxter and me line up next to take on the mud. Tom is having a great season and was gridded on the front row again in third place, with Tobie on the second row and me just behind. Tobie seemed to relish the long running section through the woods, and I could hear him up ahead having a pleasant chat with the riders around him on the first lap whilst they were all gasping for breath. After the woods I managed to get past Tobie and was surprised to see the front of the field and Tom not too far ahead (usually by the end of the first lap he would be a distant speck). I was able to move up the field by a place or two each lap, and it entered my mind that I could be on for a good placing. Despite falling off once and having an unplanned encounter with a tree, Tom had an excellent race and finished in 4th. I was ecstatic with 10th place which was a personal best. Tobie Charlton was 22nd, Phil Godfrey 27th, and David Baxter was forced to retire with a mechanical.

Tom Budden commented afterwards:
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”I’m really bruised up after that – going over the handlebars, hitting a tree and all the running with the crank digging in your back… all good fun though! Two more races to go!”[/quote]

Tom is currently an amazing third place in Wessex league seniors and the Sotonia senior ‘A Team’ are also third in the team standings It was also great to see the hard work continued even when our riders weren’t racing as they got stuck in to helping out in the pits for each other – brilliant team effort!

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