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King’s Lynn cyclist Florence shows no fear to dominate national race

Florence Barnett
Florence Barnett

King’s Lynn Cycling Club members competed in round 5 of the National Trophy Cyclocross Series.

Braving the forecast snowpocalypse, the party headed up to Bradford on Saturday to get in some course practice before it got too cold.

The scene was set though with a proper cyclocross course – lots of mud, gradient and plenty of slippery off camber corners and traverses.

Sunday dawned cold, with the car claiming -1C. With the mud frozen, course practice revealed there was more grip than day before. Team Barnett shares two sets of race wheels – and there wouldn’t be time to swap wheels so youngster Bethany elected to race on the mud tyres.

On the intermediates, Ray Barnett was racing first in the Vet40s – a bit of a slow start but he overtook the odd place or two, mainly down to greater confidence through the technical sections thanks to course practice.

However, the ground soon began to break up to reveal the mud underneath, and conditions quickly became slippery: uphill sections that were previously rideable became traction free zones that required jumping off the bike and running with it.

All worked really well until the last lap, when the accumulation of mud and leaf mould meant his front wheel jammed with mud, forcing a dismount.

Time lost clearing the mud cost a couple of places.

Bethany also only has one bike. To compensate they quickly fitted intermediate wheels to her little sister Florence’s bike, and raised the saddle high. A slow start saw her hanging on with rivals, but as the mud built up she started to lose ground.

Daring a bike change in the pits Bethany swapped to little sister’s bike – leaving father Ray to sprint to the jet wash area.

The gamble paid off – over the half lap Bethany stopped losing ground and began gaining it, but as the course continued to deteriorate, the bike couldn’t handle the seriously muddy conditions and the rear triangle clogged with mud and leaves, a few hundred yards from the pits.

Bethany dismounted and sprinted up hill to swap back to her own bike, but she couldn’t compete with riders who have two properly fitting bikes.

She is still awaiting confirmation of her position, but it was a useful learning exercise for the National Championships in January, which are also likely to be extremely muddy. Next year both Florence and Bethany will be competing in the same race, and will need two bikes and two sets of race wheels each.

Florence Barnett was back riding her now spotlessly clean bicycle, with a little time to warm up and she was off racing on an unusually technical U12 course that also featured gradient and muddy off camber corners.

Florence demonstrated her no-fear attacking style to utterly dominate the girls’ race and begin to challenge for the boys’ podium: finally finishing as first girl, having lapped the second placed girl. Not bad given this was her first week back from injury.

This coming Sunday the club will hold its annual Christmas fun ride, wearing seasonal custom starting from Alive Lynnsport at 10am and at a social pace ride to Sandringham Visitor Centre. All welcome.


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