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.

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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Question on multiple events in one weekend

It’s the start of the hill climb season, but, in the past few weeks, my main efforts at climbing have involved walking up two flights of stairs to a New York apartment. I’ve had a bad hip for several weeks. It’s one of those mild injuries you think must sort itself out in the morning, but has proved stubbornly persistent. In New York, I saw someone who massaged and gently stretched legs. It created a few reassuring clicks – the physical therapist thought some hip joint was slightly out of alignment. We will shall see if it is the solution.


Time is running out to get back on the bike. I was looking forward to the hill climb season – but without any training, I’m looking forward to the prospect a lot less. I suppose, you can do hill climbs on no training, but it is hard to have the same enthusiasm. On the positive side, I’ve been relatively injury free since 2010 – I’ve had a good run for the past six years  riding in 76 opens since the start of 2010.  If I had to be injured – there are worse years than 2016.

At this time of the year, I get the odd email from hill climbers asking for advice. A few articles cover most things:

Hill climb articles

Question on multiple events

Question: This year I’m entering as many hill climbs as I can, which means on one weekend I’ve got a race on Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.  I’ve raced Bec and Catford on the same day for the last couple of years, as well as some local events.  These are a bit longer though, around 4 mins each. Do you think that hill climbers are able to put out the same wattage and performance multiple times over a couple of days?

In my own experience, you do start to see a  decline in wattage – even for 2 minute events. It depends how much recovery time you get. If I did a 100% effort in training and then repeated 10 minutes later – I might see a 20% fall in power. If there was a recovery of 2-3 hours, it might be more like 2-5%. But, that is a guess. I often do two events in a day and have done 3-4 events in a weekend. It is definitely possible.

It was interesting watching the Olympics and how the team pursuiters could knock out faster times in the final than in the semi-final a few hours earlier. They don’t just train to be fast once a day, but also to be able to repeat the effort a few hours later.

Do you have any tips on how to keep the legs ticking over or specific recovery steps to take between or right after events?

Not really. Some spinning on rollers after event to help warm down. Protein recovery. Stay warm and avoid standing up. Maintain energy levels, but don’t eat too much solid food (one bad experience at an event where I thought gap was three hours, but it turned out to be two hours!)

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Peaking for the four year Olympic cycle

I’ve had a few injury niggles this week so haven’t been able to do as much cycling in Yorkshire Dales as I hoped. Cycling has mainly involved pottering along to Bolton Abbey, I’m getting a bit restless to do some hill climb intervals – I haven’t really done much this year. But, although it’s frustrating to take it easy and dns for a race today, there is considerable compensation in watching the Olympics.


Bradley Wiggins 2012 Olympic time trial. Photo: The DCMS

Great Britain has made a great start to the velodrome; in fact to an outsider it can appear winning a gold medal is almost taken for granted, but GB men’s sprint team was 15/1 at the start of the games. The last time they won a major championship was in 2012.

Chris Hoy makes a good person to have in velodrome. He is is articulate and passionate, with a certain gravitas – not always present with BBC presenters. Though, last night, he kept looking over his shoulder trying to watch the racing going on behind – rather that answering endless questions on Bradley Wiggins’ frame of mind. I must admit I would have rather watched the racing too.

Still in the end, the 4km pursuit final was a real epic contest. Defying the pundits predictions, Australia ran GB very closely. When the third man of GB got slightly detached on the last lap, it was really touch and go. It was an epic moment of the Olympics, for both Wiggins’ 5th gold medal, but also the closeness of the contest.


It was interesting to hear the real confidence many in the GB squad have in themselves. After losing the worlds in March (by very small margin to Australia), Bradley Wiggins seemed utterly confident in saying “But, we will definitely win the Olympics”. If it had been someone else, it may have come across as bravado, but it was said with the real conviction, that they knew more was to come.

In another era, Ed Clancy’s 3rd consecutive gold medal would be headline news. But in the Olympic gold rush, post national lottery funding, he can, like Steven Burke, fly under the radar. But, I get the impression the likes of Ed Clancy, Jason Kenny and others are quite happy with their relative low profile. Continue Reading →

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Mens Olympic road race review

The mens road race was a spectacular and dramatic event. Over six hours, the intensity gradually increasing to a dramatic final conclusion hour of racing.

Box Hill

2012 Olympics – Box hill – Sum of Marc

During the Tour de France I tried to limit my viewing time to 30-50 mins a day. I don’t have time to watch a whole stage. But, I made an exception for the Olympic road race, and watched the last 3-4 hours live. It felt like a three hours well spent. The scenery was beautiful, the setting epic and the racing high quality. It was helped by a good performance by the GB team, with a medal a possibility all the way until Thomas crashed out on the final descent. Everyone had a good race – Stannard and Cummings chasing the early powerful breakaway and then Thomas slipping into the first chase group as the race hotted up. Yates latching on to lead group, but not quite having legs. Froome didn’t have the climbing legs of the Tour, but considering his one day history, had a reasonably good race. Continue Reading →

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