With that in mind i'm casting my mind back to warm summer evenings, dry grass, no mud, dust and the pure pain of racing for an hour much faster than you should be able to off road...
The Summer Series was this year organised by 5th Floor, with support from Kinesis and various London & SE based clubs. There were 3 rounds accorss London in the same locations as the previous year (2nd round at Hog Hill unfortunatly got cancelled).
Round 1 - Addington Park
This is classic course where both the Summer Series & London League hold races. The course was similar to last year, basically brutally fast, not very technical and this time no hurdles to jump over... When I turned up last year I had no real idea what I was doing, this year I positioned myself on the front, with various people that were much quicker than me... As soon as the whistle went a group went off the front, consisting of 7 riders. I just missed this and didn't quite make it over. To be honest, there isn't really much else to say from this race, the group of 7 stayed away (minus Alex who had a mechanical) I was on my own for the whole race, the gap to the riders behind was pretty constant, they were not catching me, but then I wasn't catching the front group. I crossed the line in 7th, overall quite pleased I think, first cross race since winter and the pace and effort was good.
Round 3 - Morden park
Probably my favorite Summer Series venue, a big circuit at 1.8 miles, some hills and a nice technical "mound" which is quite high and requires you to either run over, or nail the line and ride it, like a boss. Again, I positioned myself on the front grid, the usual hitters from the previous race were there, so knew the wheels that I had to follow/hang on to. A pretty poor start meant I was around 12th on the first lap, but the pace was pretty relentless, and this thankfully meant that by lap two a few had dropped off. This pace also forced a split in the front group, with 3 up the road/grass, and me now in a chasing group of 4. This continued for the whole race really and my group of 4 seemed to work well together, that said, we were not catching the front 3. Bell lap and just after the mound there was an attack, I couldn't quite match this, so let it go, now in a group of 3 and coming upto the hurdles (which I managed to bunny hop after my first lap run, which lost me time...) and there was another attack, this went clear and I was on my own, maybe 10 meters back and crossed the line in 7th (again) A great race, and another result i was pretty pleased with. I maybe could have gone harder if my start had been better? Who knows really, it's just a bit of fun anyway...
Round 4 - Herne Hill
Herne Hill, otherwise known as the place where downhill riders come to shakedown there bikes over the rough ground. Ok, so that's not true, but the ground is very rough, the singletrack is tight, the grass unforgiving, but, it's a hugely fun course! This is now my third time on this course, having raced the Summer Series & London League last year, I knew it well, and fancied another good position, maybe 7th... For those that don't know, Herne Hill is in Dulwich, which is only about 3 miles from Central London, the result of this meant a very big field, maybe 60-70 in the Senior cat? Again, the usual hitters were here, along with new, fresh hitters... Ow we go, well, everybody else did, apart from me as I completely messed up my start, maybe 20 riders passed me, not that start I wanted. I spent the first lap just trying to move up, not helped by getting a branch stuck in my wheel meaning I had to stop, and let a few more riders past. This still wasn't going to plan. Over the next few laps I managed to claw back a few places to maybe a top 15 position when I suddenly dropped my chain (facepalm) Of all the times,.. Stop, put it back on, and off again, only loosing 1 place this time, but we were having quite a good battle. 2 laps to go and people were starting to fade, thankfully, because of all my stops I was still feeling good and pushed on to gain a few places, finally crossing the line in 13th. Not really the result I wanted, but, as David Millar would say, "that's bike racing"
Well, that's it. Another Summer Series finished. Some good results, 1 not so good result, but form is good, and I was beating or finishing with some very good riders, probably wouldn't have been able to do that last year. Huge thanks to 5th Floor for organising an awesome series, with the help of Kinesis and various local clubs, not to forget the marshals and BC comms!
Photos by Tom J Powell: http://www.tomjpowell.com/