Wessex Cyclocross Rd 8: Popham

Round 8 of the Wessex Cyclo-cross league took riders to Popham airfield near Basingstoke. Conditions on the day were drier than last week with both bikes and riders being loaded into vehicles at the end of the day without the need for a hose down first. The 2km long course took in grassy switchbacks, technical rooted and rutted sections in the woods, steep banks and three long drags into a brutal headwind.

The usual NFCC suspects were all in attendance with Matt Knight kicking things off with the V40 men. After last week’s mechanical issues and at times spicy racing Matt was hoping for a less eventful showing here. He was mid pack off the start, an impressive feat in a field of nearly 90 riders, with some consistent lap times Matt came home in a respectable 56th.
Catherine Pascoe and Emma Shepherd both took the start line for the women’s race, in a field swelled by Western league riders due to an empty weekend in their calendar.
Emma got a flying start and was in the second group on lap 1, unfortunately the pace soon began to take its toll and she slipped backwards. Rallying in the final laps she finished 16th in the field of 43 which, as everyone else was keen to point out, is a great result! She was 8th senior to boot.
Catherine also finished 8th in the V50 category, scoring some good points for her league campaign.
As the sun crept ever lower thanks to the extra hour that snuck in overnight, Joe Shepherd was gridded for the final race of the day, the senior men. Despite starting on the 4th row of the grid, Joe made a great start, gaining many places in the first few corners. Thanks to much encouragement from his short-suffering wife, he managed 17th in a field of over 50 riders. This also turned out to be his first ever full distance race, being the penultimate rider to complete the same number of laps as the leaders! 
There is now a three week hiatus until the league resumes at Andover on the 20th November. 
In that time Catherine is hoping to organise a skills session with lots of fun games, all will be welcome on any bike with knobbly tyres!

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