Typical. On the very week London was being prepared for drought orders we managed to have the wettest Go Ride weekend of the year! Still, over 44 riders braved the wet and windy conditions and produced an excellent mornings racing at Crystal Palace providing us with a great display of their riding skills in really tricky conditions.
The first casualty of the weather was the Hill Climb. The rain had made the mini hairpins too treacherous, so in the interest of health and safety we replaced it with a simpler time trail starting on the finishing straight and running up the main circuit (anti clockwise to the brow of the hill. Not perhaps as exciting as the climb to the Westwood Hill Gate, however the new course provided an interesting and testing challenge.
For the under 8’s it was quite a challenge, but we had some excellent rides and everyone made it to the top. Sannah Zaman continued her great form setting the fastest time of 48 seconds closely followed by Lilly Meers with 52.8. Harry Wood produced his best ride of the season clinching the third podium spot with 54.4. Lois Gerbino also produced a fantastic effort coming 8th with 66.8, just pipping Henry Harding who recorded 68.5. Sophie Thompson and Malachi Bernard both had their race faces on finishing with 78 and 82 seconds respecitvely, followed by Thomas Wood who looked super smooth on his way to an 89 second ride.
The under 10’s is probably the most competitive age category for the Penge riders with George Harding, Luke Cornelius and Joseph Wilson battling it out for the top spot closely followed by the Big Foot pair of Milly Shemmings and Jack Harradine. Unfortunately Luke’s front wheel slipped as he was approaching the finishing line bringing him down on his side. He bravely got up and pushed his bike over the line (ala Nigel Mansell), however was too sore to compete in the circuit races. Unfortunately for Luke his time was effected by the fall, however he was on a flyer and would have been challenging for the top spot if he hadn’t crashed.
As it is with cycling the racing continued and George cruised to the top spot in 43.2 seconds, two and a half seconds clear of Jack Harridene in 45.55, with Joseph Wilson less than a second behind in 46.32. Henry Davies of Big Foot rode strongly for 4th in 47.75 and a second behind came Verity Spooncer and Jordan separated by just 0.16 of a second at 48.6 and 48.77 respectively. How close was that. Well pretty close and with the next seven riders separated by just over a second it shows how competitive the league is and the improving performances by all of the riders. Milly Shemmings 50.79, Ryan Finnerty in his first outing of the season 50.8 (yes that is only 0.01 of a second difference!), Jack Friend 50.9, Ian Hudson 50.95, Joseph Harris 51.2, Kristian Malcolm 51.8 and Ella Hardisty 51.96. Cal Bannister and Sadie Harrison were only a second behind with 53.32 and 53.4, Lukes eventual time was 56.42 and Amy Thompson battled her way up in 61.98.
In the U.12’s Big Foot had a clean sweep with Robert Mills producing a storming ride to win in 38 seconds, Irfan Zaman continuing his excellent performances this year with 40 seconds and Gabriel Roberts coming third with 43. The Penge boys continued their improvements getting ever closer to the Big Foot riders at the top with Liam Smith 47s, Jordan d’Souza and William Eade tying with 50s each and Michael Jengo returning to action following a broken ankle (non cycling related!) with 51s. Rebecca produced a solid ride finishing in the wet and drizzlying rain at 66s. Quick mention for one of our new riders Oliver Stewart who crashed on the warm up and wasn’t able to take part in the racing. Oliver is a keen racer and despite being sore following his crash, is ready for the next event.
The numbers were a bit thin for the years U.14 and U16 however Tom and Liam were Spencered during the meet and their participation for the next round should be guaranteed! Those that did ride were excellent though. Fraser scorched up the climb to win in 33s and Georgina showed her continuing improvement to post an excellent ride of 39s. In the U.16’s Michael Chambers rode well to post 38s and Dannielle Craig produced a nippy 44s.
Well the rain was getting worse so with riders, eating hotdogs and sheltering under the arches, we quickly got the circuit races going. It was wet and horrible with puddles of standing waters, a cold breeze and with strict instructions to take it easy on the corners. Everyone belted off as if they’d been born and raised in Belgium (no northern softies in South London!).
The U.8’s had two laps of the small circuit and Sannah Zaman powered away to open up a clear lead on lap one, chased by Henry Harding, Lilly Meers and Cameron Sergant. Henry began closing the gap but couldn’t quite make it before the finish, with Cameron coming through for third and Lilly close behind in fourth. The rest of the field rode bravely on. For Penge Harry finished 7th, and Thomas, Malachi, Sophie and Lois fought out a tight race to finish 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th.
The U.10’s race was brilliant. Jack Harridene blasted around the first corner (I was convinced he wasn’t going to get round, but he did!) with series leader George Harding in hot pursuit. George took the lead on lap two and led into the penultimate corner on lap 3, however Jack jumped inside a took a slight gap heading into the back straight. George closed it down. However, leading into the corner proved crucial and Jack held on for a close win. Behind Kristian Malcom finished an excellent 3rd, with Joseph Wilson 4th, Ian Hudson 5th, Veity Spooncer 5th and Reece d’Souza 6th, giving Penge six of the top seven places over a tough 3 lap race. Sadie Harrison, Ella Hardisty, Cal Bannister, Ryan Finnerty and Amy Thompson were close behind in 10th, 11th and 12th,13th and 15th.
The U.12’s, U.14’s and U.16’s were all grouped together and after a slightly more cautious first corner than in the previous races Fraser took over the front spot and seemed set for the win but on the penultimate lap Michael Chambers came from the bunch with a late charge to take the lead. Again leading into the last corner proved crucial and Michael was able to hold off Fraser’s last gasp challenge. Michael won the U16’s, followed by with Fraser winning the U.14’s ahead of Georgina. The U.12 was a closer affair with a 1, 2, 3 of Irfan Zaman, Robert Mills and Alexander Bertioli, with Jordan d’Souza in a seasons best 4th, Liam Smith just behind in 6th and William in 8th and Rebecca 10th.
With just one round left in the series there still a lot to play for in the overall standings:-
U.8 Providing she rides it looks like Sannh Zamam has the 1st position all wrapped up, however the fight for second is far from over with Lilly Meers and Henry Harding seperated only by 4 pts.
U.10 Well its official, George Harding has an overall lead of over 50 pts so can’t be caught. The fight for 2nd and 3rd is a 5 way battle between Joseph Wilson, Luke Cornelius, Milly Shemmings and Jack Harridene, who are all only separated by 8 points.
U.12 The fight for the top three is a tight contest between Irfan Zaman, Gabriel Roberts and Robert Mills, with all three separated by only 7 points.
U.14 As with the U.10’s Fraser has this one sewn up, with Georgina looking comfortable for 2nd place.
U.16 As the only consistent entree in this age group Michael Chambers is already the champion however he has ridden well during the series and fully deserves top spot.