Words by #TeamRutland ambassador Lee Hopkinson.
Thetford Winter Series Rd-2
Round 2 of the Thetford Winter series was on 8th December at West Bilney Woods. Leading up this race the Midlands & Eastern area had seen a significant amount of rainfall, as most of my local trails testified to - many of my usual routes had become unrideable. Arriving at the track on a bright but very crisp Sunday morning, it was a pleasant surprise to be greeted to a mainly dry track
Having signed on and with number attached, I headed out for my practice lap. This was around 6 miles, made up of lots of short sharp climbs that seemed to be everywhere - so much for the Eastern area being flat! However, the course was not technical so there were no A or B lines to practice.
As with previous rounds the event was a sell out once again, which meant that there would be 300 riders in various ages & classes in attendance. As always, the 3hr Male and Female groups are first away at 10:00, then the 1.5hr groups at 11:30 and then all the fun 1hr riders at 12:00.
Unlike the first round I was called up as part of the gridding, which meant I was towards the front of the start and with over 150 riders lining up this makes a big difference. The first lap is always slightly shorter and will miss out some of the tighter/twistier sections, with the aim to spread the field out early on and stop the riders from bunching up too much on these tighter parts later.
After the first lap I was around 40th and was with a large group of riders for the next couple of laps. By the 3rd lap I started to lose ground on the riders, I think my year's worth of cycling & Christmas indulgence was beginning to have an effect on me. My 4th lap (which was at least one positive from the race as last time I missed out by 1 sec) was spent pretty much on my own, with no one either to chase nor gaining on me. After 1.hr 51mins of riding I finished 61st out of 104.
Looking back on 2019 I have had some great rides and have really appreciated all the support & help from #TeamRutland and would also like to a say a big thankyou to Danny & the Team at Rutland Cycling Grafham.
Now onwards to 2020!
I have been riding bikes since the mid-seventies. Starting out on a Raleigh Budgie with stabilisers, progressing through many bikes including a Raleigh Strika and BMX Raleigh Burner to my first mountain bike in 1988. I initially started out using the mountain bike as part of my training for Motocross which I had been racing since the age of 6. Due to family issues at the age of 20, I decided to stop racing Motocross so needed something to fill the void which it had left and XC mountain biking racing fitted the bill perfectly. So, after many, many bikes (just ask the wife!) and travelling across the UK for the last 26 years, I am still competing (well trying to) in the ultra-competitive class of the Vets - those who really should really know better, but hey it goes to show age is just a number!
Apart from the racing side, I just love to get and out ride, anything from commutes to work or midweek social rides. My goals for this year are to continue to race, this will be in the Southern series, Eastern series, selected Nationals and the local Friday Night Summer series, I also plan to do the following supportive rides, Summer Solstice 100 miles, Leatherheadz 3 Shires ride and the Numplumz marathon. Last year I managed to ride just under 5000 miles so need to beat that this year! I also look forward to finding new routes in the countryside we are blessed to have around Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, so will hopefully see some of you out and about!
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