The wait is nearly over. We are now less than a month away from the start of the long awaited Eastern Region MTB League (ERMBL). With the courses set, the sponsors confirmed and riders signing up in their droves – the stage is now set for what has been described as one of the most exciting developments in the racing calendar!
After an absence of many years, the Eastern Region is once again going to have its own series of MTB races in 2009. Although there have been the hugely successful Thetford and Beastway series and assorted standalone events at Langdon Hills, Danbury and Letchworth, these four new and incorporated events are a welcome addition to the riding options in the area.
To celebrate the countdown – the league organisers invited Billy Whenman, one of Great Britain’s top 2012 hopefuls to Essex to have a sneak preview of the first event in the league – Danbury Outdoors, 19th July, Chelmsford, Mud Sweat and Gears.
1. So Billy – lets get straight to the point – what did you think of the Danbury course?
I must admit I was surprised! The course covers a large area – offering a great mix of open and single track – which flows really well – creating a very fast and unrelenting course!
2. How does the course compare to other XC courses?
Really well! It is certainly on up there with the best - bringing something different and unique to the calendar!
3. What part of the course did you find most challenging?
All of it – it’s relentless with no let up!
4. If you were to give riders one tip for the Danbury course – what would it be?
Travel down to the night before – ride the course and take advantage of the over night camping – then blast out a record time on race day!
5. You ride both road and MTB – how do you find the transfer between the two disciplines?
I train 6 days a week – 3 days on the mountain bike and 3 the road bike – this means I can jump from one to the other easily. Road cycling helps my mountain biking, developing my endurance whilst mountain biking helps my road cycling, building up power. Importantly, the variation keeps things interesting!
6. How helpful are regional leagues in the progression riders from the grassroots to the national stage?
Massively! First and full most - it provides everyone with an opportunity enjoy the sport, experience racing and develop as riders. From there – it enables riders to gain points and enter the national leagues – and potentially go professional.
What’s particularly interesting about the ERMBL however is that we could have someone completely unknown compete in this year’s league, and potentially represent Great Britain at Hadleigh, Essex in London 2012!
7. What advice would you give riders who are competing in the league for the first time?
Take a ride around the course before you start, practicing certain areas which are challenging. Try not to focus on the league – but the job in hand and most importantly – don’t get carried away – you only win by enjoying it!
8. Lastly but most importantly - will you be competing in this year’s league?
I am defiantly racing two of the four races – awaiting confirmation from my sponsors if I am available to race in all four races. Bring it on!
BBC Coverage of the Preview