Welcome to old age

Last Monday I turned 40, which is a milestone in the cycling world because it officially marks entry into the veteran category.

Late on Monday I started to come down with a virus which laid me low all week; a fitting end to a four week cold. Life seemed to be saying – in a non too subtle way – welcome to old age, mate. It’s all downhill from here.


On the bright side, I can now look forward to 2017 with an eye on the Veteran categories.  There used to be a time when 40 was considered quite old, and hill climbs, especially, were not considered particularly suitable for those in the latter half of their life. But these days, 40 seems to be the new 30; with many cyclists admirably demonstrating there is still a lot of potential even post-40.

As a philosophy, I like to think age is in the mind, not in the heart – so I guess the next decade will provide an opportunity to test the practical reality of advancing physical years and learn what kind of difference age actually starts to make. I think the secret is not to think about it.

Targets 2017

This year I came 2nd in the national 12 hour TT, and 41st in the national hill climb.  With this kind of result, the obvious direction for a veteran would be to focus on the longer races and leave the quick twitch fibre stuff to the young ‘uns. But, at the moment, I feel more interest in concentrating on hill climbs and hilly time trials than the long distance stuff. Perhaps a prolonged hip problem has discouraged the initial burst of enthusiasm for a 24 hour time trial.

I’m still off bike, but with the weather dipping below freezing, I feel quite calm about the prospect.

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Feet in the Clouds – a tale of running up fells

feet-in-the-cloudsReview of: Feet in the clouds – A Tale of Fell-Running and Obsession

‘Feet in the clouds’ is a book about fell running by Richard Askwith, a London journalist, who gets hooked on the sport of fell running. He tells a potted history of the sport, and also his own personal endeavours as a middle of the road aspiring fell runner.

Although there is no mention of cycling, amateur cyclists will see a kinship in many of the things Askwith talks about –  the club scene, the attraction of the great outdoors, the great characters of the sport, to the physical and mental challenge of running up steep hills.

More than any other branch of cycling, it reminded me of the hill climb scene in domestic UK timetrialling. The slightly crazy idea of finding the steepest hills and running / cycling up them. The only difference with fell running, is the even more crazy run back down the mountain.

I didn’t have any recognition of the names in the book. There wasn’t a single fell runner who I recognised, apart from perhaps Ron Hill, who wasn’t really a fell runner. This is perhaps proof of the amateur nature of the sport; a sport, which more or less has avoided the trappings of commercialism.

Though, its not a completely rose-tinted view of the sport. For example, there is a chapter on the senseless amateur / professional divide of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Which to a millennial will make absolutely no sense. Continue Reading →

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It’s been a difficult few weeks on the cycling front. Injury, unending cold, and the winter miles bank resolutely empty – you can’t really count the 0.6 miles up Bank Road in the steady miles club.


Apart from that, the highlight of my cycling at the moment has just been swapping the summer bike for winter bike, adjusting my mudguards in anticipation of being able to ride in the wet, and a short commute into town.

2016 has been a funny year (not so much in the humorous sense) In fact since Nov 11th, I haven’t dared look at a newspaper, just in case the tiny 5% chance of Americans electing a President with a silly hair cut came true.  This winter, I shall keep my head buried in back issues of Cycling Weekly, OS Maps 1:50,000 series and Winnie the Pooh books, it’s the only way to stay sane in this crazy world.

On a more positive note, I have been going to see people about my nagging hip injury. I have been to a physiotherapist twice and two different osteopaths. The second osteopath was quite good and seemed to find some imbalances – which hopefully will resolve themselves. He also did something to the neck as apparently there is a connection from as far a field as the neck to hip joint. It is interesting because I had a very bad neck after 12 hour time trial. I’m doing a few exercises and stretches, but it’s amazing how quickly time can pass by without turning a pedal in anger.

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Riding on the right side of the road

Short video by Liam Rees of Ilkley CC.

This year, I didn’t pre-ride Bank Road, or even think about how to ride the hill. When I got to the corner, I think I might have subconsciously tried to avoid going on wrong side of the road.  There was probably a better line to take.

Even though the road was closed to traffic, it’s hard to break the habit of a lifetime and cycle on the wrong side of the road. Continue Reading →

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Hill climb bike 2016 + Video + Photos

Firstly, an on board camera video from Courtney Blockley-Campton.

Courtney finished in a time of 2:37.5 (29th). Perhaps without on-board camera he may have finished in a time of 2.37.4. But, it captures what it is like to race up Bank Road.

You can roughly calculate time saved from weight loss

My 2016 hill climb bike


5.7 kg

This year I didn’t really get into the world of marginal gains. I even left a Shimano Ultegra derailleur on. It is about 500 grams heavier than 2015 Hill climb bike. Continue Reading →

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National hill climb championship 2016

This year 2016 National hill climb championship was held on Bank Road, Matlock. Adam Kenway 2.18.2  (Metaltek Kuoata RT) and Lou Bates 2.57.1 (Veloschils Interbike RT) were the respective men and women champions.

Adam Kenway has been in great form this year from winning the very short Monsal Head (1.16.5) to much longer climbs like the Cat and Fiddle, and Long Hill. However, nine days before the championship he was involved in an accident (training on Bank Road ironically). However, despite lingering issues and only deciding to race at the last minute, he managed to produce a superb time. In 2nd place, Isaac Mundy kept up the very good tradition of hill climbs for Oxford University CC. 3rd place was James Lowden (Team ASL360)


In the women’s championship Lou Bates finally made the top step of the podium after finishing 2nd and 3rd in previous years. Becky Lewis 2nd (Wrexham RC) and Joanne Clay 3rd (TORQ Performance)  made up the podium. Though as someone who has finished 4th on a couple of occasions, honourable mention to Joscelin Lowden (Lewes Wanderers CC) who was just 0.1 second off the podium. Marginal gains and all that.

(Haven’t seen results for juniors / vets yet. But, it was good to see Bill Bell flying the flag for vet men. Bill was very narrowly 2nd to Matt Clinton at the last HC champs in 2008 on Bank Road. I’m now starting to pay more attention to the vet category now…

  • Harvey Weinberger, junior men champion
  • Anna Henderson, junior women champion


It wasn’t the best day for former national hill climb champions with four men  (Richard Bussell, Dan Evans, Matt Clinton and Tejvan (me) and two women (Lynn Hamel and Maryka Sennema all missing out on a podium finish (I don’t think I’ve missed any more). I spoke to Jim Henderson before the event, he had thought about entering, but after suffering on the Rake a few weeks ago, decided against it and settled for cycling 88 miles out from his home to watch the suffering by the side of the road. Perhaps I will be joining him in a few years.  Last years champions R. Bussell and M.Sennema both finished 7th. Continue Reading →

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Video archive of hill climb

A Pathe News video of Kent’s 37th Annual Hill climb championship on Brasted Hill.

Love the braces, woolly jumpers and billowing shirts. Some chaps really look like they are going so slow they are about to fall off. That’s a proper hill climb. The crowds are amazing. I suppose people didn’t have tv to watch or computers to stare at in those days.

Brasted Hill, 667 yards long. (average gradient 1-7)

W Hussey won in a time in 1 min 54 2/5 secs.

98 started!

National hill climb tomorrow on Bank Road. I have a cold, but still hope to turn up and ride.


List of Mens national hill climb

List of Women winners

Catford CC hill climb

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Getting rid of traffic lights


One of my favourite spots for taking photos of cyclists in Oxford is on Broad Street, in particular this crossroads by the Bodleian library. The reason is that through traffic is prohibited so over 50% + of traffic are cyclists.


There are a few delivery lorries, so it’s not quite a cyclist paradise, but compared to your average inner city road it is quite peaceful.


It is interesting to just listen. Sometimes a few minutes can go by without any vehicular traffic, and you just hear the whir of bicycle wheels –   very civilised!


Previously the junction was controlled by traffic lights, though traffic lights felt a little over-bearing given the nature of the traffic on the road. Continue Reading →

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Burrington Combe hill climb 2016

The last weekend before the nationals is often Bristol South CC hill climb on Burrington Combe. 2.2 miles averaging 6%. A nice steady gradient, giving a different test to the shorter sharper climbs, like Bank Road. I’m not sure how long the event has been run for. I started riding in 2004, but I know it has been going for much longer.

113 riders were on the start sheet – another excellent turnout, showing once more the surprise rise in popularity of hill climbs in recent years. When I first rode in 2004, just 43 tested the time keeper.

In the past week, the weather has turned from late summer to autumnal. As we sat in the Burrington Combe cafe before hand, we could see a carpet of leaves falling. After a fashion, this could be south west England’s own “Race of the falling leaves”.

For those not doing the national HC, or moving onto the mud of cyclo-cross – this race is often the last of the season.


Despite doing well at Burrington Combe in recent years, I did consider dns, due to persistent injury. It is a bit tiresome, if for no other reason – it doesn’t make a great blog, when the primary purpose is giving updates on a slow moving injury. Anyway, I thought it’s only 2 miles so I can’t do too much harm.


I thought about using tribars, but took off at the last minute (partly because they were slipping off)

I had quite a short warm up – on arrival I preferred to spend 20 minutes in a cafe with some friends who had cycled out from Bristol. With not much time left, I just warmed up on rollers. I usually go for a cycle around nearby roads, but it was quite a cold morning so I kept to the rollers. Though by the time I got to the time keeper, just after 11am, it was starting to warm up a little. Continue Reading →

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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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