Strong Rovers presence at season opener

Last Sunday saw the long-anticipated start of the ‘cross season at Hillyfields in Colchester. This is a bit of a second home to many of our riders as it is the venue for the youth coaching sessions, as well as a regular haunt of the local riders looking for some good training.

The Under 8’s and Under 10’s kicked off proceedings with strong representation from the Rovers, including many converts from a great season of grasstrack taking part in their first ever race. Within this race we had Jacob and Noah Wilson, Alex Widdowson, Reuben and Zachary Peacock, Constance Challinor (second U8 girl), Elizabeth Whall (first U8 girl), Alex Derrick – who overcame a first lap crash to finish strongly in tenth, and James ‘Jimbo’ Clarke who came a hard-fought fifth overall in his first year in the U10 category. It was great to see so many of you out there!

There then followed the U12 race. Special mention should go to Efa Fuller and Isla Widdowson riding in their first ever cyclocross race – certainly a steep learning curve and showing great promise. Matilda Challinor rode a tenacious race, overcoming adversity to finish 6th in the girls event. Rovers were well-represented at the head of the race and after a thrilling spectacle for the spectators were credited with William Smith in fifth, George Collins in sixth and Isaac Starmer in seventh.

In the combined U14 and U16’s race there were some more gritty performances with strong finishes from first-timer Reece Steadman, Lizzie Wellsted making a return from her running exploits, Jamie Derrick stepping up from the U12’s last year, George Davies finding time in his footballing schedule to jump on his bike and Nate Gordon overcoming a pre-race fall to complete the gruelling race on the full seniors course.

Performance of the day, however, came from Max Avery who showed the merits of some concerted training with a strong tenth place, and looked every inch the pro ‘cross rider – we look forward to seeing more from him this year!

Finally, the Rovers were also represented in the Men’s 50+ by Peter Hall and John Letch, in the 40+ by Martin Smith, Jonathan Whall, Andrew Hopper, Simon Wilson, Mike Pears and Greg Andrews and in the Women’s race by Amelia Hopper returning from her summer of coaching duties.

Another standout performance was from Dan Hall, following his excellent results throughout the summer to make the step from the Youth to the Junior ranks and the not insignificant increase in distance from 40 mins to 1 hour. In his first race at this level he finished ninth overall and third Junior – very well done Dan!


This Sunday sees the next round at Springfield in Chelmsford, Let’s hope the weather stays like this for a while…