A free ride into town

I was ambling along into town this morning, when two serious looking cyclists overtook me. I got on their wheel and enjoyed a faster commute into town than normal. Even at low speeds, you get a bit of benefit from sitting behind.


The two cyclists were joining up with a big group, meeting in centre of Oxford who were going for a long ride. Continue Reading →

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National hill climb championship 2016

The National hill climb championship will be held on Bank Road, Matlock, Sunday 30th October.

The race starts at 12.00 and finishes at 15.00

Details here at Matlock CC.

Strava Segment

This particular segment is a bit long. I think the start is a little further uphill than this section.



The top of Bank Road before the right hand turn to Wellington Street

Since I have no chance of getting anywhere near podium, I can look at the championship in a slightly more relaxed attitude than the past five years. I will be there to enjoy the experience. My only goal is to beat my effort from 2008, where I finished 14th in a time of 2:42.3. Continue Reading →

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Otley CC hill climb 2016

Today was the Otley CC hill climb on Guise Edge and Norwood Edge. The mens winner was Dan Evans (Team Elite) with a new CR on Guise Edge. The women’s winner was Mary Wilkinson (Yorkshire RC)

The weather was pretty good for October, though a slight headwind on Norwood Edge made it a hard second leg.

My race

Before this morning, I was a little undecided about whether to race. I’ve ridden properly just once since last week, and have to admit it’s hard to keep up the same enthusiasm when training is hampered and there is pain before the start of a hill climb. But, I saw a physio on Thurs and he seemed to think it is OK to keep riding. Hopefully exercises will sort it out just in time for the dark months of winter training…


Pateley Bridge is at the bottom of 3-4 really excellent climbs.

Spread out over 22 years, it was my 11th Otley CC hill climb.


Photo Liam Rees

First up was Guise Edge just outside Pateley Bridge. I was optimistic I would be able to do OK on this climb. It’s only a short 3 minutes or so, and I’ve had a good track record in previous years. I rode up the steep bits quite well. I kept it in the same gear and didn’t lose any rhythm. Then in the middle it flattens out a little bit so you try and get up a bit of momentum for the last left hander. Once over this I had a look down at the computer. It said about 2.10, which I was quite surprised. It meant I would do a better time than expected. However, I regret looking at computer, I think it upset the intensity and focus of the previous 2 minutes. I looked a second time and I saw the 3sec power had fallen to 250 something. The kind of power you can do in a 100 mile TT. I think for a 3 minute climb, you really want to just ride on feel and not look at anything.

It was a long drag to the line – a bit further than I seem to remember. In the end I did a 3.23.1, which I was quite pleased with. Dan Evans set a new CR of 3.13. Kieran Savage (Team B38) a 3.17.

Interesting stat. There has been a new course record on Guise Edge for the past 7 consecutive years. I took four CR in a row, now Dan has taken two in a row. A lot of good riders have been up Guise Edge in the past six years including former champions Matt Clinton, Gunnar Gronlund and Jim Henderson. The lowering of record is indicative of the improving standards. Also, it was a good entry of 60 riders in todays event.

Norwood Edge


Norwood Edge – It always feels steeper than it looks when you ride it.

I used to do relatively better on the longer Norwood Edge climb, but I feared that a lack of training would be more noticeable on a longer climb, where aerobic fitness becomes more important. Also, if you’re not so well trained (or possibly advancing years) a second hill climb after a 3 hour gap is harder work. I never felt particularly good going up Norwood Edge, despite some enthusiastic cheering from spectators on the side of the road.  I did a time of 5.14, which was my slowest time on Norwood edge since 1993, when I rode a steel 501 Reynolds frame up Norwood Edge in 6.55 or something suitably slow.


Photo: Liam Rees

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2016 Walbury Hill climb


Walbury hill after race.

There was a record 132 entrants for the third running of the Newbury RC open event on Walbury hill. With a closed road for the event, it attracted a lot of juniors, which was good to see. There were also quite a few riders, who are not hill climb regulars – perhaps attracted by a good promotion, closed roads and a hill that is not too ridiculously steep.

The hill is 1883 m long  with a max gradient of 10%

The winner of mens event was Isaac Mundy (Oxford University CC). The women winner was Emma Grant (University of Bath Cycling Club

My event

My bike and old bike

My bike and old bike

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24 hours

After finishing the National 12 hour time trial championship this June I had two or three conflicting and, at the same time, complementary thoughts.

  • That was really painful – I’m not doing that again.
  • I really want to do a 24 hour time trial championship.

Whenever I do 100 mile time trials, I always think. I just about survived that, but there is no way I could have kept going for another hour, let alone eight. So I hope the same logic applies going from a 12 hour to 24 hour.

This year in the national 24 hour TT, Michael Broadwith of Arctic Tacx RT finished in first place with 537.35 miles – which is both inspiring and an intimidating distance. I think that is part of the attraction / challenge of long-distance racing. It’s a step into the unknown. You can prepare for 50 mile races, by cycling 50 miles or even further. But, you can’t prepare for a 24 hour time trial by doing a 537 mile training ride. Continue Reading →

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Legs of jelly

I’ve still some trouble with hip muscle, which has meant not starting Reading CC hill climb this weekend on Streatley and Goring Hill. I can still ride a bike, but it’s holding me back sufficiently to stop hill climb races; hill climbs are hard enough when you’re fully fit.


I tried to do a half-hearted hill interval the other day, and felt I had legs of jelly. It’s a long time, since I’ve felt so little power in the legs. I’m optimistic it might be on the mend, but the hill climb season can come and go – and before you know it the clocks go back and its all over. If I can get fit, it will be interesting to see the impact of 6-8 weeks of not training.

In 2014, when I was coached by Gordon Wright, he seemed to observe how little difference two months of training did to an improvement in my performance. I don’t know whether it works the other way, but it feels a long way to climb back up.

Why do you always get injured when the weather is unusually good? I’m sure when the Autumn rain, wind and cold comes I will be fighting fit.

With a bit more time on my hands I’ve been reading a book “Feet in the CloudsA tale of fell running and obsession by Richard Askwith. I may review because, although not cycling, there seems considerable overlap with amateur cycling.

I’ve also written a post at Sri Chinmoy Races – Experiences of self-transcendence. A look at my previous sporting endeavours such as winning the 4 mile Menston Village Fun Run (under 7 category). I left out the fact I was once awarded “Menston Cricket Club under-13 fielder of the year”. But you don’t want to boast too much about these top-level sporting achievements.

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Time Trial Records

A compilation of time trial records.  Updated to include Marcin Bialoblocki’s breaking of both 10 and 25 mile record. On the 10th September, float conditions on the V718 saw 63 riders under 20 minutes for the SsLL racing Team event.

Marcin Bialoblocki (One Pro Cycling) a Polish national racing in the UK smashed the previous record held by Alex Dowsett and James Gullen of 17.20 – setting a new time of 16.35. Anna Turvey Tyneside Vagabonds CC) also set a new womens record of 19.08. Results CTT. The next day Bialoblocki set a new 25 mile record of 44.04. A few weeks later, Hayley Simmonds was the first women to go under 19 mins, setting record of 18.36.

10 Mile Time Trial

  • Marcin Bialoblocki – 16-35 – Course V718 10/09/2016 – 36.2 mph (450 watts)
  • Alex Dowsett (Movistar)- 17.20 – Course E2/10 – 01/06/2014
  • Michael Hutchinson – 17-45 – Course – V718  – 26/08/2012 (33.8 mph)
  • Michael Hutchinson  – 17.57 – Course: V718 – 24/07/2010
  • Bradley Wiggins –         17.58 – Course: Levens 16/09/2006 (33.4mph)
  • James Gullen – 17.09 – Course V719 – 11/09/2016

25 Mile TT

  • Marcin Bialoblocki – 44.04 – R25/3H – 11/09/2016 – 34.04 mph
  • Alex Dowsett              – 44.29  – E2/25 –  29/05/16
  • Matt Bottrill –             – 45.43  R25/3L 07/09/14
  • Michael Hutchinson – 45:46  Port Talbot Wheelers 25 09/09/2012
  • Dave McCann           –  45-54Course R25/3 20/09/2009
  • Chris Boardman       –  45.57 – Oxford University
  • Sean Yates                  – 46-57  – H25/13  28/09/1997
  • Alf Engers                    – 49-24 – E72

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Writing on the road


I though this was mildly funny. Someone wrote on the Cat and Fiddle road:

Kenway, Cuming, Tejvan, Clinton, Bhima, Lovatt. You can just about see Team Dimension Data cycling over ‘Tejvan’.  These are local riders, not in the Tour of Britain, but sometimes ride events like the Cat and Fiddle hill climb. Mark Lovatt won the National Hill climb when it was on the Cat and Fiddle in 2002. Continue Reading →

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Kirkstone Pass

Kirkstone pass is the highest major road (A592) in the Lake District. It reaches a height of 1,489 feet (454 m) and affords great views of the surrounding lakes. There are three different routes to the top of Kirkstone Pass, each offering there own challenges. The hardest is ‘The Struggle’ which takes the shortest route from Ambleside to Kirkstone Pass. It is the shortest in distance but the steepest and requires over 400 metres of climbing. The other two ways, on the main road (A592) are less steep, but make good long challenging climbs.


At the top of Kirkstone Pass. Lake Windermere is to the right. The weather is often ‘moody at the altitude of 454 meters


Ambleside to Kirkstone pass via ‘The Struggle’

the struggle kirkstone pass

  • Net height Gain 396 metres from Ambleside.
  • Max gradient 24%
  • Distance 4.8 km
  • Avg Grade 8.2%
  • Max Gradient: 20%
  • Total Elev Gain 403m (including descent)
  • 100 Climbs #83
bottom of struggle

The bottom of the Struggle in Ambleside, don’t be deceived by this photo.

From Ambleside, the road soon becomes very steep around swooping corners. The road surface here is very smooth (it was recently replaced), but it doesn’t make it an easy ride. For a considerable distance, the gradient is between 18%-20%. It’s a real lung breaker.

Yesterday there was a huge surge in interest for Kirkstone Pass ‘The Struggle’ It was a great joy to see the professional peleton really struggle up the Struggle. In Belgium you may get many 20% climbs, but at 4km long, this really split apart the peleton.

Bradley Wiggins was captured ‘walking’ up the last part of the Struggle, perhaps a slightly mischievous nod to Froome’s running up Mont Ventoux in this years Tour, but Wiggins seemed to be giving the spectators a lot of joy!

When watching cycle races on tv, my mother always asks so where’s Bradley? I always say these days ‘he’ll be at the back having a laugh’ – It’s hard to explain how you can win the Tour de France, win an Olympic gold in world record time, but still be at the back of the peleton in the Tour of Britain.

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The Tour de France vs the Vuelta Espagne

The Vuelta is the youngest Grand Tour (formed 1935) and has often been in the shadows of its more illustrious rivals – The Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. But, in recent years it has often provided the highest quality racing and also provided a showcase for emerging riders to make a name for themselves.


Nairo Quintana – Photo Joe Menager

The Vuelta is squeezed into a difficult slot in the calendar – September, just before the World Championships – but it often provides the most drama for the general classification battle, something that often eludes the Tour de France. The recent editions of the Vuelta have all provided great racing, intrigue and a see-saw battle between the top contenders. The organisers have thrown the rule book for grand tours out of the window and created stages which seem to create more attacking racing. Shorter stages, innumerable mountain tops. The sprinters union may complain and the likes of Cavendish, Greipel have voted with their feet – preferring the Tour of Britain. But, whilst it is good to see the top sprinters in full flight, the excitement lasts perhaps for the final 1km – it’s all over before you can work out where everyone is. What we really want to see is epic battles over mountains. Continue Reading →

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