from Andy Waterman on Vimeo.
The final round of the London League, a season long competition that runs from September to February, took place in Brighton on Sunday 1 Feb. Your final season's ranking is taken from your nine best results of the 16 rounds. Prior to this final round I had participated in nine rounds, and at least one of those results was crap - so I really wanted to knock that off my tally in Brighton by scoring some good points.
I had spent the week looking at the points spreadsheet working out different scenarios. I was in 4th, but the guy behind me, Nigel Ling was only two points behind, and another rider, Gary Record, could easily overtake me if he raced as he had only ridden eight rounds. I'd need to beat both to hold on to my 4th spot.
So we show up on the day and I'm looking everywhere for these two riders, and what do you know, neither showed up! This left me a bit deflated and when I couldn't follow the other hitters at the start, I did consider giving up.
However, Stanmer Park is hilly by cyclocross standards and although I'm no mountain goat, I was able to put my MTB experience to good use on the descents and make up some time there. By the second lap I was in third place with a visibly struggling Chris Ansell - the confirmed series winner - falling way off the pace. I didn't particularly trust this situation and so it proved, as with two laps to go I was caught. I rode with him for a bit, and even got a bit of a gap again on the steep climb that I could ride, but he ran, but it proved in vain. On the final draggy grass climb of the penultimate lap, he rode away from me. I just didn't have the power when it mattered.
I was in 4th with one lap to go, and Chris had about 10secs on me, so I just got my head down and kept on going, not really thinking about reclaiming 3rd, but just maintaining position. And so it was that I crossed the line in 4th, 2.5mins behind the winner - Darren Barclay - and 20secs behind Chris.
This was enough to maintain my place in the league and even add a few to my total. It was lucky I did carry on with the race though, as my team mate, Kevin Knox, finished 6th which put him on the same number of points as I had prior to this race - if I'd have dropped out, he'd have overtaken me pushing me down to 5th. As it happens, he and I are now 4th and 5th in the league (he overtook the absent Nigel Ling), which I think is pretty good for a couple non-sponsored club riders.
Next year should be a bit different: the plan is to build up two bike and ride the National Trophy series, together with Kevin and PJ from the club. I really really can't wait - hopefully the road season will fly by in a blur of multiple wins and unparalleled success!