Bristol South CC Megahilly definitely lives up to its name. With 1,100 metres of climbing in 28 miles, it makes a strong claim to be the hilliest TT in the land – especially in terms of vertical ascent per distance. If I got to design a time trial course myself, it would be difficult to design a course more suited to my strengths than this 28 mile test, taking in 5 long climbs around Wootton, Dursely, Frocester, Uley and finishing off with Stouts hill.
The Mega Hilly begins in the historic town of Wotton on the Edge. Straight from the startline, there is a testing climb of around 10%. It is nearly 150 meters of ascent right to the top. Though towards the end, the gradient eases off to be just a long dra.
With smooth tarmac, it is tempting to go off too quick. But, after the pacing mistakes of Buxton MTT last week, I was determined to hold back and not get overexcited. At the top of the climb, you turn left for a tricky descent into Dursely. The descent was still wet from overnight rain – I took it steady, especially with tubs pumped up a bit too much. At Dursely, you turn back towards the village of Uley and a long drag along the B4066. After you exit the village of Uley, the gradient increases, and I soon found myself in the bottom sprocket 39*25.
From the top of Cockadilly, you turn left down Frocester Hill. If you’re not racing, there is a fantastic view towards the Severn estuary – you can see for miles around. After a testing descent, there is a rare section of flat roads towards Easington where you do a U-Turn around a mini Roundabout. This was a chance to get low on the TT bike and pick up some seconds.
Road bike vs TT
There were quite a few riders using road bikes for this course. Road bikes must be tempting for quite a few reasons – better braking, lighter uphill, easier to manage on the corners. But, although they can be a bit unwieldily, I think the TT machine is always going to be 1-2mph faster (TT vs Road bike). Though I’m also pretty used to the TT bike as I’ve been training on it a lot. I rode a discwheel on the back; the only concession to gravity was using an ultralight weight ‘Lightweight’ front wheel, which rarely sees action outside the hill climb season.
After a few miles of flat, your speed soon falls as you hit the lower slopes of Frocester hill. Frocester is a real beauty, nearly 200m of vertical ascent at an average gradient of 9%. I once cycled a round trip of 120 miles from Oxford just to have a go at Frocester hill, it’s definitely worth a visit to this part of the world. After surmounting Frocester, you turn left and there are a few false flats before another descent through Selsley into the outskirts of Stroud.
Here it is good to mention the fantastic marshalling by Bristol South CC. It was the first time I rode the course, and it was very well signposted, but it was also great to have some marshals by the trickiest descents. A good effort by the red and yellows.
At Stroud, you do a u-Turn and get that familiar feeling of going back up the descent that you just came down. This was probably my favourite climb – it felt relatively fast because there was a tailwind all the way up. It was another climb with a manageable gradient of 8-10% and I was able to get into a good rhythm despite two bumpy cattle grids.
There was one more fast descent through the village of Uley. I didn’t take any risks, I wasn’t sure where the left turn was going to be, and it never seems worth the risk. After a long freewheel down Uley, I felt deceptively fresh as I began the last climb of the day up Stouts hill, near Uley. I attacked the lower slopes, seeing the power go up to 380-390 watts. As it was the last climb, you feel it’s now time to give it everything. However, this climb was definitely the hardest of the race. The gradient gets up to 12% plus, and with all the miles in your legs, it became a hard slog to drag the TT bike up the bumpy and wet slopes. For the first time in the race, I had to get out of the saddle and really fight to pull the bike up. It was a long slog up the last two hairpins and it was a relief to make it to the top.
I finished in a time of 1.17.17. I think this took about 5 minutes off the course record, and gave me first place, ahead of Paul Jones (Bristol South CC) (of Traumfahrrad fame) who did an excellent time of 1.22 – – especially given the stresses and strains of also organising the whole event. I enjoyed the event, especially the climbs.
Back in the luxurious cattle shed of an HQ, we had a good presentation and I picked up my first prize. There was a good atmosphere at the race, with riders not quite sure whether it was torture, or great fun. It was that strange mix of both.
Thanks again to Bristol South CC, who really put on a great event. My only thought and suggestion for next year was that it would have been good to have done two laps, but I think I ought to keep that one to myself…
|1||Tejvan Pettinger||Sri Chinmoy CC||1.17.17|
|2||Paul Jones||Bristol South CC||1.22.48|
|3||Derek Smetham||Dursley RC||1.23.20|
|5||Tavis Walker||Velo Club Walcot||1.25.52|
|6||Alastair Barnard||Gloucester City CC||1.27.20|
|7||Alec Baskaya||VC Walcot||1.27.28|
|8||Richard Spink||Bristol South CC||1.27.51|
|9||Harry Walton||Cheltenham & County CC||1.28.25|
|10||James Coleman||Velo Club Walcot||1.28.29|
|11||Ben Anstie||Cadence RT||1.29.11|
|12||Harry Luxton||RUtrainingtoday CC||1.29.41|
|13||Greg Lancaster||VC Bristol||1.30.11|
|14||Neil Reynolds||Winchcombe Cycling Club||1.32.25|
|16||Jay Hookins||Devizes Town Cycling Club||1.32.40|
|17||Simon Snowden||Cadence RT||1.32.53|
|18||Ben Connelly||Severn RC||1.33.08|
|19||Steven Cottington||Cadence RT||1.33.14|
|20||Anthony Clark||Bristol South CC||1.33.18|
|21||Lee Aston||Sodbury Cycle-Sport||1.33.37|
|22||Edward Trotman||Bristol South CC||1.34.15|
|23||Simon Baynes||Giant CC||1.34.57|
|24||Iain Cade||Cadence RT||1.34.59|
|25||Andrew Spearman||Chippenham & Dist. Whs||1.35.05|
|26||Owen Burgess||VC Bristol||1.35.19|
|27||Daniel Alford||Bristol South CC||1.35.33|
|28||Graham Gordon||Bristol South CC||1.36.02|
|29||Michael Davis||Dursley RC||1.36.09|
|30||Iain Hounsell||Mendip Cycling Club||1.36.22|
|31||Andrew Green||Lutterworth Cycling Club||1.36.26|
|32||Edward Trenchard||Bristol South CC||1.36.26|
|33||David Bolton||Bristol South CC||1.36.39|
|34||Simon Cox||Chippenham & Dist. Whs||1.37.12|
AW Cycles 10 mile TT on H10/181
The previous day, Saturday was the first 10 mile TT of the year. I did 20.35 on the Witney bypass. Mark Jones of Drag 2 Zero went 3 seconds quicker for 20.32. That’s the second time in one week, I’ve been beaten by 2-3 second by a rider on a Trek Concept Shimano Dura Ace Di2. I think the Gods of cycling are telling me to go out and Spend! Spend! Spend! Predictably, I was 7 seconds up on Jones at the top of the long drag to the roundabout, and lost on it on the long drag back down. Perhaps I need another trip to Drag 2 Zero windtunnel too….
- Rich Lewton photos of event