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The Team descended on the Wasing Estate, near Aldermaston, for the Southern Cross Country Championships. Not only is this a popular course with riders but as the National Championships are to be held here this year it was an opportunity to remind ourselves how the course flows. For once we had a nice sunny day and thoughts turned to sun cream rather that how many layers we needed to put on. We couldn’t help feeling sorry for Jon who relishes hot racing conditions, but has so far raced in wintry downpours and couldn’t race today due to a massive shoulder injury incurred on a track night. The team however was bolstered by Simon Willatts who is over from Australia at the moment. He has been training hard in Australia but mainly geared towards multi day Endurance events in Europe.
The course has no real climbs, just drags and a few short punchy efforts. But as it flows so well there is very little opportunity to take a breather and therefore it’s important to judge your riding. Go into the red too often and it will leave you suffering and losing lots of positions. A few of the very muddy/boggy sessions had been cut, leaving good tracks and fun twisty sections. There were bits to catch you out if you weren’t paying attention, such as thread routes on the corners but equally some fast fun downhill parts that made you smile.
The women in the team set the standard for the day with both Liz and Carol taking wins in their respective classes. Steve came 4th in the Grand Vets race, gaining time in the technical sections to lose out on the drags. Mark, Simon and Ro lined up with a large Vets field. Simon was handicapped by not being gridded and did a fantastic ride to get his way up to 6th. Mark had his normal battle up front and was pleased with his measured ride for 3rd place. Ro is still recovering from illness and maybe shouldn’t have ridden. In true Ro style he refused to give up and came in a creditable 17th. Stu King rode a very strong race against the top Masters in the country. He was up at the front battling hard (despite his pit crew letting him down bottling – apologies from Mark) and managed a great 7th place.
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