21.10.18 – Mistley, Essex
After the heavy rain at Welwyn Garden City the previous week, sunshine was a welcome sight on Sunday morning as the highly technical sections of the wooded Furze Hill course at Mistley with their muddy corners and slippery exposed roots can become very difficult indeed in the wet. Some courses benefit from the added challenge, of course, but in the dry Mistley is a delight to watch – despite the technical sections, it’s a fast and flowing circuit and the riders seem to enjoy it as much as the spectators and photographers.
Admiral Liv-AWOL’s Lauren Higham’s technique at Welwyn was to launch herself off the start line like a rocket, then keep hammering out the watts all the way to the finish. It worked there, proving she has excellent form right now, and it worked here at Mistley last year when she and Elspeth Grace did the same and finished more than six minutes ahead of third-placed Alison Hogg of Push Sports-Barford Van Hire, so she looked as though her plan was to use the same tactics; unfortunately, a crash saw her and a couple of other riders lose time. Her team mate Harley Pell then took over and rode superbly well, grabbing a lead which extended out to over a minute and, as the race drew near to a close, looked all but unassailable… until disaster struck in the form of a puncture: while her disappointment and frustration was obvious, she did very well to finish in sixth place and it seems very likely that she’s going to win a round before too long.
Alison grabbed her chance. One of the strongest and fastest riders in the League, Alison came close to snatching victory from Gemma Melton (Pedal Power) at the Princess Helena College round a couple of weeks back; having spent much of the race chasing Harley and with a good lead on the next riders, she now seized her chance – but, no doubt well aware that Lauren and Gemma were now riding hard in a last-ditch attempt to catch her, she redoubled her efforts and accelerated, crossing the line alone and with a healthy gap behind her. Lauren took second and Gemma in third. Simon caught up with her for a quick interview once she’s caught her breath and swallowed half a recovery drink…
(More photos below the interview)
Neutral Service: Alison, congratulations on the win!
Alison Hogg: Thank you! It was really hard and very painful, but it was fun.
NS: It was quite a dramatic race – Harley Pell shot off from the front after an early crash by another rider.
AH: Yes she did.
NS: Harley had about a minute on everybody before she punctured and Lauren Higham (Admiral Liv AWOL) crashed, but you seemed to have a pretty comfortable ride?
AH: Comfortable in terms of navigating the corners, but not comfortable in terms of speed – it was hard, but I liked it.
NS: How do you find this course?
AH: I really loved it; its really well laid out.
NS: One of the key questions of the moment – how is it riding with the veteran men? Or do you prefer riding in a women’s race like at Princess Helena College the other week, where CC Ashwell organised a stand-alone women’s race?
AH: I loved it, I really liked riding alone, but it’s difficult when it’s not many ladies so it quite nice to pick through the men and you keep racing, whereas if there aren’t enough ladies you are racing on your own. But then again, when we had our own race we had 40 riders. If it kept up with forty it would be preferable.
NS: You’re riding at Grafham Water next week?
AH: Oh, yes. I’m not looking forward to that! (laughs)
AH: Thank you!
Want even more photos?
We have some photos of the U10, U12 and Youth races too – find them here.