A reader (Ken Stott) kindly sent in a few photos of Eric Wilson’s hill climb bike from the 1950s and 1960s. Eric Wilson won four national hill climb championships in 1955, 1957, 1960 and 1964. Four titles over a period of 10 years. Ken still looks after Eric’s bike, though he says he doesn’t ride with quite the speed of Eric Wilson in his prime!
Ken says the bike weighs about 18lbs….. (8.1 kg). That’s about 2.1 kg heavier than the average (geared) bike in the national hill climb 2013!
The bike is of course fixed. Nearly all hill climbers will have ridden fixed in those days. Though gears were starting to become more popular. – For example, John Woodburn became the first rider to win the national 25 mile title on fixed in 1961.
The Zappi CC hill climb on Watlington hill November 2nd 2013.
The Monty Python sketch goes ‘Another wafer thin mint, Sir?’
In my case, it was another hill climb I just couldn’t resist. I’ve been out on my bike a couple of times this week and had a very strange felling of aimlessness. What do you do in the week after the nationals?
But, I popped into BikeZone in Oxford and had a chat with Steve Avery. He mentioned Zappi CC were having their club hill climb on Saturday and invited me along. Steve Avery is a very good tricylist and he explained one of the advantages of using a tricycle in a hill climb is that you can come to a complete stop and have a breather half way up. That sounded like a good kind of hill climb to end the season on, so I went along to Watlington hill and signed up for last race of the season.
I was having a good time at the top of the hill taking photos of the riders and listening to the encouragement from the spectators at the top. Flavio Zappi was on top form, telling people who didn’t seem to be sprinting 100% to the end of the line they could go back down and have another go.
I nearly missed my start time, arriving only 5 seconds before I was due. It’s nice doing a hill climb without so much pressure. I didn’t even have time to take off my two water bottles and a saddle bag, big enough to go touring with. After two months of lactic acid overdose and sick inducing efforts, I couldn’t quite motivate myself to go eyeballs out. For a hill climb, I took it relatively steady. It was only at the top where I saw the spectators, that I tried to show off and sprint for the line. It was a great friendly event and after the last rider crossed the line, the riders went back down the hill to enjoy some chips at a local pub before the prize ceremony.
Results to come hopefully. But, I think the winner was Matt Steven Zappi CC, 2nd was Chris Baines of Buxton CC, and 3rd was Tejvan Pettinger.
Flavio himself roaring on a rider
A big effort. Why do we do hill climbs again?
A tandem is not easiest way to ride a hill climb
Chris Baines probably had most stylish bike a beautiful Bob Jackson
I’ve been looking back through my cycling logs to have a look at previous seasons. I must admit I did think quite a bit about what happened in previous national championships and why I was just outside the podium on several occasions. This is a potted history of the past 9 national championships.
1993 – My 1st hill climb at Otley CC (placing unknown, close to last)
2004 – My 1st season racing. My first open was a Cardiff Byways triple hill climb. (3 hill climbs in one day. I finished 2nd out of 11 – a good experience, though I’ve never been back!). I also came second in Burrington Combe (Bristol South CC), with a time of 7.10. I haven’t often beaten that initial time. In retrospect it’s a shame I didn’t go up to north east for National champs it was won by Jonathan Dayus just ahead of James Dobbin on Winter’s Gibbet a fairly long climb.
200512th (2.39.1) – Rake – 8 seconds behind 3rd, 12 secs behind 1st. My first national championship was at the Rake. A great experience, I finished 12th. I didn’t quite know what to expect. But, it was great crowd and atmosphere. I rode it pretty well, though I had very bad wheel slip at the steepest climb. (I was still Richard Pettinger in those days. Report at Tejvan.co.uk) | 2005
2006 – 7th (5.18) Peak Hill – 11 seconds behind 3rd, 36 secs behind 1st – Devon. I did little racing in 2006. I few slow 10 mile TTs. so I was pleased to finish 7th, only a few seconds off the podium. I thought if I can keep improving at this rate, I could get on the podium quite soon. James Dobbin was a standout winner from David Clarke. Peak hill was a great hill, flat at the bottom getting steeper and steeper. I remember it was a beautiful warm sunny day. Blog on 2006 national hill climb.
2007 – 7th(7.14) Cheddar Gorge – 6 seconds behind 3rd, 23 secs behind 1st. Another season of little racing. I only did 2 hill climbs in the lead up to the national championship. My Guru, Sri Chinmoy passed away October 11th and I went to New York for a week. Hill climbing took a back seat that season. Despite racing only once, I turned up to national championship and finished 7th, just a few seconds behind 3rd place. I was pleased. If I’d had more racing, I could easily have got a few more seconds. But, it didn’t feel important in 2007. It’s a great climb Cheddar Gorge. Steep at the bottom then a long drag to the top. James Dobbin retained his title from David Clarke. A young Alex Dowsett finished 18th. Results at CTT
2008. 14th (2:42) Bank Road, Matlock, Derbyshire. 16 seconds behind 3rd, 18 secs behind 1st – A short and spectacular hill climb through the town of Matlock. Again a light season of racing, and a climb that didn’t really suit me. I remember setting off really fast and being light-headed by half way up. I slowed down utterly exhausted. At least I’d given it everything. I remember being quite taken by experience. The winner was Matt Clinton ahead of Bill Bell and Jim Henderson. (blog of 2008) | Bank Road
After the prize ceremony, someone asked what the secret of winning hill climbs was. I don’t really know, but I guess these things help:
Power to weight ratio
In the genetic lottery, I hit the proverbial hill climb jackpot and probably got the best possible frame build for long aerobic climbs. Ironically, I didn’t always appreciate having a stick insect frame and inability to put on weight. I remember once as a teenage getting fed up with the ‘jokes about being an extra from Schlinders list’. I also felt pretty useless for being unable to do a proper press-up. I remember once making a half-hearted effort to put on weight. I even went out and bought this ‘weight gain powder’ – It tasted absolutely disgusting so I’m afraid I threw it away after one effort. That was about my only sustained effort to put on weight. But, whatever I eat, I never seem to go over 63kgs, and usually hover around 61-62 kgs. I once went on a weighing scale in Boots, which said my weight was 2.5 stone underweight for my height. I think the technical term is an ectomorph.
I doubt anyone would believe the quantity of carrot cakes / plain chocolate digestives I’ve eaten since the start of the hill climb season on the 1st September. My lodger would believe because he watches with a suitable degree of envy. But, I suppose there’s no justice in this world. If you’re one of those people who puts on weight just by looking at cake, I can only slink away into the corner, feeling a little bit guilty, but secretly just a little bit smug and grateful. It’s probably not much consolation, but being stick thin does make you very prone to the cold. The national 100 was run in a heatwave, I still wore 2 pairs of socks. But, I suppose most people would trade having to wear 2 pairs of socks in summer for a metabolism which burns up sugar like dry leaves in a furnace. There was a time, when I wanted to be just a little less skinny, but now I’m a hill climber, I can’t really complain!
When I read Tyler Hamilton’s book I was shocked by the drug revelations, but also shocked by the efforts he went to losing weight. I don’t think I could cope with that kind of dietary control. It’s probably a good job I’m not a pro, I think I might become a little unpopular if people saw how many cakes I ate and still looked like I was on starvation rations!
was promoted by Ferryhill Wheelers on the Stang, North Yorkshire.
2013 race blog
I’ve had a pretty good hill climb season, up to the nat champs, I’d won 11 out of 12 opens (including 6 course records). It’s an impressive track record, but in 2011 I also had similar success in opens, and for whatever reason it didn’t quite happen on the big day, finishing 5th – a few seconds off the medals. 2012 was a wash out on the rake (12th). The Rake was the first national championship when I didn’t ride too well, not that it would have made any difference – I don’t have the short-twitch fibres to excel on short 2 minute efforts.
This was my 9th national championship, and probably my best shot at the title. Occasionally throughout the year the thought would pop into my mind ‘if you don’t win it this year, you’ll never win it.’ Probably untrue, but this year was definitely a good opportunity. I’ve done every national championship since 2005, the best result was 2010, where I was one second off third place.
I don’t have a coach, but Gordon Wright (former coach of Stuart Dangerfield – 5 times national champion), kindly gave a few helpful pieces of advice. (I tapered later than usual) Also he mentioned one thing that really stuck out, if you really want the national title, you can, ‘Just be ruthlessly focussed.’ Quite often I’ve turned up to national championships not having ridden the course, not even sure where the finish line was (2010) or turning up really quite late, or taking wrong bike e.t.c (2011). So this year, I took this advice to heart. For example, I did toy with riding a 12 hour time trial in July, but thankfully left that for another year. It’s one of the great cliches of sport to say I gave it 100%, but this year I think my preparation really was as much as I could have done. (apart from fuzzy socks and number not being pinned on properly..)
Pre-riding the course.
12 days ago, I went to ride the Stang at race pace. There was a ferocious headwind and I did 12.02. I was really disappointed with the time, and on the second effort that day I did 12.10. It was really tough grinding up into the headwind. Two days later, I went back and did 9.15. There was a light cross / tail wind that day. It was definitely good experience to ride the hill several times. I must have ridden the hill seven times, and I was able to decide tribars were as much hassle as help. I practised the technical downhill bits quite a bit.
The week before was interesting experience. I couldn’t decide if I was confident, nervous, looking forward to it, or wishing I could just ride and get it over with. I really thought there was a good chance to win, but I also thought I could finish any place in the top 10. It’s always hard to predict national hill climb championships, especially this year. There are really a lot of very good road men mixed in with the hill climb specialists. I only did one week of tapering, so I felt very fresh by Saturday. I hadn’t done so little cycling since last February when I had a knee injury.
I felt surprisingly calm on the day. I’ve felt more nervous for opens (and much more nervous when organising an event!) I arrived at 11am – a record 4 hours before my event. But, this gave me chance to ride the course before the race started. I realised it was going to be very different to the two practises on the Stang. I thought the best strategy was to go as hard as I dared on the steep section and hope the tailwind would blow me along the rest. At least the tailwind meant I didn’t have to worry about tribars. I think on the downhill it would be about holding on!
It’s nice getting there early, you have chance to chat to a lot of people. Many offered generous good wishes. It was good to see former Oxford University CC teammate Jim Henderson and his rapidly growing family (Jim is 5 times national winner and one of the ultimate hill climb specialists) Quite a few people had told me they would have betted on me to win, though I didn’t share their confidence!) I went to the CB Inn for a drink of mineral water by the log fire. A young competitor was soon brought in shivering and cold. She had fallen off after finishing her race. The effort and headwind were too much. She felt pretty bad for a while, but after being told she was junior national champion for her age, even the cold felt worthwhile. She was well looked after by marshals and members of the Ferryhill Wheelers. Still it was a rather stark reminder of the nature of the climb and day. It was the kind of day where the weather could easily effect your performance for the worse.
I usually warm up on rollers, but for this race brought a turbo along as well. It was just as well because I couldn’t ride the rollers at all, my back wheel was just slipping off. If I didn’t have a turbo it really would have been difficult. It wasn’t the weather for warming up on the road.
As a rare luxury, I also had a teammate (Arayvan) who came all the way from Australia to hold a golf umbrella on this wet Yorkshire day. I appreciated his help, and it was good to warm up in the dry. Aravyan said he thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience – though I’m not sure whether that was my mum’s Yorkshire pudding or the standing in the rain bit.
5 minutes before the start, I got off the turbo and made my way to the start. Poor old Matt Pilkington a few numbers ahead of me just missed his start because of a freak mechanical. He seemed quite calm despite his bad luck, I’m sure in future years on shorter climbs he will do well. I didn’t say anything at this point though, I was trying to be as focused as possible. I stripped off as late as possible and got onto the starting block.
The start went well. It felt much faster up the steeper section that previous efforts. I kept in the same gear (39*19) all the way up the steep section. It was close to the limit, but not quite. As the top section flattened out, I started going up the gears and by the downhill was into the 53*12 absolutely flying. I could see my minute man Sam Ward (Dirt Cycles) ahead in the distance, and flew past him (I think I heard a muffled ‘go on Tejvan’. It was a nice irony to have Sam as my minute man, because he gave me the idea for my first hill climb back in 1993 (Otley CC) (By the way I finished 2nd to last in that hill climb on East Chevin)
Although you were flying with the tailwind, there is still a big kick in the tail as the climb rears back up to 10%. I just tried to give it everything and hold on. There was another section of downhill near the finish, and I tried to put back in the big ring, but it wouldn’t go so I just finished in a 39.
Right at the finish, I made my only mistake in the climb, for some reason I stopped sprinting just before the finish. I just held back a fraction of a second too early, I don’t know why for some reason in my head I had the finish at an early point. Anyway I was pleased with time of 7.57 and how I’d ridden. It was a bit of relief just to know I’d done a good ride, and maybe even good enough for a medal. I remember Hugh Carthy standing at the top -asking me what time I did and he seemed impressed at 7.57, which I took as a promising sign. He was waiting for his Rapha Condor team-mates to finish.
A marshall gave me a bin liner for the descent back down. It was a good idea as it was cold and hard work going back down. It was probably a similar time to go back down as it did going up. I didn’t think too much about result, I was more concerned with getting dry and warm. It takes ages to get your skin suit off when you’re cold, especially when pins are in your undershirt.
Walking into the HQ I saw PJ and James Dobbin. They were both very clever, saying you might want to check the results for yourself, but it’s looking promising. They didn’t say I’d won, but it gave a hopeful vibe. I never made it to the results board before enough people told me I’d won to believe it.
I was only 2 seconds in front of James Gullen. It must be hard to lose by 2 seconds. But, 2nd is pretty good for first national championship – and James is 12 years younger than me so he has plenty of time to go one better. 3rd was Matt Clinton, who did another phenomenal national championship ride to finish on the podium yet again. Hugh Carthy, Rapha Condor JTL finished 4th to lead home Rapha Condor JTL to team prize. James Knox, Champion System – Maxgear RT was 8th overall and junior champion for the second year running.
Maryka Sennema, Kingston Wheelers CC was ladies champion with a time of 9:49.2 – just pipping former national champion Lynn Hamel. Third lady was Angela Hibbs, Tyneside Vagabonds.
Pete Tadros (In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp) was fastest vet and once again slipped into the top 10.
Big thanks to Ferryhill Wheelers, CTT and all those who stood on side of road. An epic day for standing in rain for 3 hours. I think it’s much easier to ride than organise and marshall!
After the race, I gave a couple of interviews to cycling magazines and posed for a few photos. A moment’s fame perhaps. I told my mum it wouldn’t go to my head. I suppose it’s not every day you win the national championship.
This is interesting to see race compare. It seems I gained time right at the start. After a few hundred metres I was 9 second up. Then for the rest of the climb 2nd place James Gullent chipped away, getting within 1 second.
Joanne Blakeley – Champion System – Maxgear RT – 11:07.7
Helen Eborall – Born to Bike – Bridgtown Cycles -11:12.4
Nicola Soden Champion System -Maxgear RT -11:16.3
Lou Collins – Beeston RC -11:17.0
Eve Dixon – Champion System – 11.22.1
Karen Poole – GBCycles.co.uk – 11.28.6
Annabel Sill – Clay Cross RT – 12.17
Gemma Sargent – Dave Hinde RT – 12.43.5
Jessica Roberts – Velo Club Melyd – 13.05.8
Alice Cobb – Scott Contessa Epic RT – 13.45 (JW)
Isla Rush – Wyndmilla – 14.06 (JW)
Eve Lyon – Nutcracker Racing – 14.28 (JW)
Sharon Clifford – Coventry RC – 14.48
James Knox – 8.25
Josh Jardine – 8.42.9
Max Spedding- 8.46.9
Alice Cobb – 13.45
Isla Rush – 14.06
Eve Lyon – 14.28
A) Pete Tadros – 8.29
Full results for 2013
1 Tejvan Pettinger Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team 07:57.7 2 James Gullen Team Hope Factory Racing 07:59.8 3 Matt Clinton Mike Vaughan Cycles 08:08.1 4 Hugh Carthy Rapha Condor JTL 08:15.8 5 Richard Handley Rapha Condor JTL 08:18.6 6 Dan Evans Velo Club Melyd 08:19.5 7 Josh Teasdale In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp 08:24.7 8 James Knox Champion System -Maxgear RT 08:25.6 9 Pete Tadros In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp 08:29.1 10 Charles Coleman Velo Club Walcot 08:29.2 11 Adam Kenway Team Zenith – www.buzzcycles.co.uk 08:32.2 12 Jack Pullar Madison Genesis 08:32.7 13 Jonathan Cregeen Biketreks Racing Team 08:35.2 14 Mike Cuming Rapha Condor JTL 08:37.0 15 Conall Yates In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp 08:37.9 16 Michael Smith Team Corley Cycles 08:41.3 17 Danny Axford Arctic-SRAM RT 08:42.6 18 Josh Jardine Kent Valley RC 08:42.9 19 James Dobbin Arctic-SRAM RT 08:43.0 20 Max Spedding Birkenhead North End CC 08:46.6 21 Julian Varley Harrogate Nova CC 08:46.9 22 Nick Spencer Gosforth RC 08:48.4 23 Ian Taylor Ciclocostablanca.com 08:48.7 24 Daniel Patten Team SmartStop P/B Mountain Khakis 08:49.6 25 Luke Mullen Hetton Hawks CC 08:50.1 26 Michael Jones Derwentside CC 08:50.9 27 Benjamin Davis Bristol RC 08:55.0 28 Chris Baines Buxton CC 08:56.3 29 Ben Hetherington Dirt Wheels Cycles 09:02.7 30 Paul Roby Coveryourcar.co.uk RT 09:02.7 31 Aidan Holgate North Lancs RC 09:09.0 32 Jack O’Neill Mike Vaughan Cycles 09:10.3 33 David Crawley Rock to Roll Cycles 09:10.5 34 Paul Jones Bristol South CC 09:10.8 35 Archie Cross Yorkshire Road Club 09:12.4 36 Andrew Pearson Huddersfield Star Whs 09:13.1 37 Tim Wilcock Tyneside Vagabonds CC 09:13.8 38 Michael Broadwith Arctic-SRAM RT 09:15.5 39 Alastair Kay Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com 09:16.1 40 Chris Myhill Peak Road Club 09:17.1 41 Alex Jones Clwb Rasio Mona 09:18.7 42 Adam Hartley Velocity WD-40 09:19.9 43 Joey Walker RST Racing Team 09:20.2 44 Adrian Lawson Cadence RT 09:21.2 45 David Watson Coventry RC 09:21.7 46 Tom Garnett Ilkley CC 09:23.1 47 Zak Corum-Haines Brighton Excelsior CC 09:23.9 48 Sam Ward Dirt Wheels Cycles 09:24.9 49 Chris Dyke Manchester Wheelers Club 09:25.8 50 Nick Latimer Rutland CC 09:26.7 51 Jonathan Bayley Gosforth RC 09:29.4 52 Wilf Sargeant West Pennine RC 09:32.7 53 Robert Hayes Manchester Wheelers Club 09:32.7 54 Matthew Pilkington Metaltek, Knights of Old 09:34.8 55 Mark Harrison Houghton CC 09:35.0 56 Sebastian Dickson Thanet RC 09:35.7 57 Bhima Bowden Buxton CC 09:36.4 58 Kieran Savage Seacroft Whs 09:38.5 59 Max Robson Richmond CC 09:39.3 60 Rob Shields GS Metro 09:40.9 61 Stuart Stirland Edinburgh RC 09:41.3 62 Alexander Wilson GVC Edmond de Rothschild Team 09:42.4 63 Patrick Smart Matlock CC 09:43.8 64 Ben Lane GS Metro 09:47.3 65 Alan Thynne PMR @ Toachim House 09:47.5 66 Stewart Gregory Nottingham Clarion CC 09:48.1 67 Maryka Sennema Kingston Wheelers CC 09:49.2 68 Scott Smith Barrow Central Wheelers 09:49.6 69 Karl Juan Denton Newcastle Cheviot CC 09:49.6 70 Eugene Cross Yorkshire Road Club 09:50.1 71 Keith Henderson Southborough & Dist. Whs 09:50.8 72 Clive Upton Hambleton RC 09:51.0 73 James Falconer Ferryhill Whs/Mountain High 09:52.4 74 Paul Stubbs Ferryhill Whs/Mountain High 09:54.1 75 Rory Hopcraft Abellio SFA Racing Team 09:55.6 76 Paul Thirling Adept Precision RT/N E Healthcare Solutions 09:55.7 77 Matthew Cartlidge Stone Wheelers CC 09:57.7 78 Daniel Alderton Guernsey Velo Club 10:00.0 79 Chris Burns Ferryhill Whs/Mountain High 10:00.0 80 Chris Danby Drighlington BC 10:00.5 81 Martin Gibson Adept Precision RT/N E Healthcare Solutions 10:01.4 82 Stuart Green Oldham Century RC 10:01.8 83 Nick Decker Congleton CC 10:02.3 84 Nick English AW Cycles.co.uk 10:02.5 85 Simon Warren Norwood Paragon CC 10:03.7 86 Richard Lilleker Cleveland Wheelers CC 10:03.9 87 Lynn Hamel Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com 10:06.6 88 Ted Cross Yorkshire Road Club 10:07.1 89 Andy Gorton East Lancashire RC 10:08.6 90 Ryan Coulton Salt Ayre Cogset Youth Cycling Club 10:09.8 91 Craig Gath York Cycleworks 10:10.0 92 Peter Greenwood Clayton Velo 10:14.3 93 Stuart Baker Buxton CC 10:18.5 94 Aaron Tonks Ribble Valley CRC 10:18.9 95 Simon Coates Cleveland Wheelers CC 10:19.0 96 Robert Pollen Ashley Touring CC 10:20.6 97 Angela Hibbs Tyneside Vagabonds CC 10:25.6 98 Andrew Askwith Bridlington Cycling Club 10:27.9 99 Peter Byrne In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp 10:29.8 100 John Keane Coventry CC 10:30.2 101 Dan Harwood In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp 10:32.9 102 Kevin Dawson Hambleton RC 10:37.5 103 Marc Allen Swindon Road Club 10:43.3 104 Simon Dowson Settle World Wide Wheelers 10:45.1 105 Paul Hague Gosforth RC 10:47.0 106 David Trotter Lancaster CC 10:50.1 107 Carl Mustil Ferryhill Whs/Mountain High 10:50.5 108 Mark Flannery Richmond CC 10:53.5 109 Tom Clarke Red Rose Olympic 10:53.6 110 Harry Craig Activ Cycles – Corbridge 10:53.7 111 Lewis Hartley Velocity WD-40 10:56.1 112 Ben Trippier East Lancashire RC 10:57.2 113 Jonathan Baines Buxton CC 10:57.7 114 Theo Jefferies Ashley Touring CC 10:58.1 115 Paul Bailey Manchester Wheelers Club 10:58.7 116 Jahan Hunter Ashley Touring CC 10:59.5 117 Sam Mansfield Buxton CC 11:01.6 118 Ivan Paul Ashley Touring CC 11:02.2 119 Alex Trippier East Lancashire RC 11:02.5 120 Lee Cairns Rossington Whs 11:02.8 121 Ian Hutchinson Cleveland Wheelers CC 11:03.6 122 William Belcher Clayton Velo 11:04.7 123 Calum Meikle North Cotswolds CC 11:04.8 124 Paul Brierley Huddersfield Road Club 11:06.1 125 Joanne Blakeley Champion System -Maxgear RT 11:07.7 126 Christian Hulme Stretford Wheelers CC 11:08.4 127 David Murphy Liverpool Mercury Dolan CC 11:09.0 128 Sam Wilson Mike Vaughan Cycles 11:12.0 129 Helen Eborall Born to Bike – Bridgtown Cycles 11:12.4 130 Nicola Soden Champion System -Maxgear RT 11:16.3 131 Lou Collins Beeston RC 11:17.0 132 Nick Calvert Adept Precision RT/N E Healthcare Solutions 11:21.1 133 Dougi Hall Border City Whs CC 11:21.7 134 Eve Dixon Champion System -Maxgear RT 11:22.1 135 Oliver Dickson Thanet RC 11:22.3 136 Richard Birkin Nottingham Clarion CC 11:24.2 137 Karen Poole gbcycles.co.uk 11:28.6 138 Cameron Turner Darlington Cycling Club 11:29.7 139 Mark Sanders Mid Devon CC 11:30.5 140 Joe Mann Derwentside CC 11:31.0 141 Stewart Bates TFN Triathlon Club 11:50.1 142 Simon Baines Buxton CC 11:51.1 143 Cameron Heritage Holme Valley Whs 11:51.8 144 Kevin Gibbons Border City Whs CC 11:53.7 145 Nicholas Burton Newark Castle C C 11:58.0 146 Paul Ashcroft Rapha Condor Cycling Club 11:58.3 147 Andrew Newey Ribble Valley CRC 12:03.6 148 James Risk Sportcity Velo 12:03.7 149 Richard Sill Wansbeck CC 12:13.3 150 Annabel Sill Clay Cross RT 12:17.4 151 Mike Westmorland Border City Whs CC 12:43.3 152 Gemma Sargent Dave Hinde RT 12:43.5 153 Paul Heggie Birdwell Whs 13:01.0 154 Jessica Roberts Velo Club Melyd 13:05.8 155 Alice Cobb Scott Contessa Epic RT 13:45.3 156 Michael Cox Ashley Touring CC 13:48.4 157 Isla Rush Wyndymilla 14:06.6 158 Eve Lyon Nutcraker Racing 14:28.1 159 Jonathan Poole Ashley Touring CC 14:46.2 160 Sharon Clifford Coventry RC 14:48.8 161 Dave Archer Bolsover & District CC 17:36.3 162 Luke Thomas Ashley Touring CC 18:33.0
Usually before the national hill climb championships I write a long rambling preview.
This year, though, I can’t really think of anything to say (which regular readers of blog will know is quite unusual). I guess it’s quite open with a few people having a good chance to get in the medals.
The weather looks mixed. Showers and a strong SW tailwind. Forecasts say gusts of up to 40mph, which could be interesting. I’ve got to admit I’m glad there are no forecasts of 40 mph headwinds…
It should be OK for spectators, a few showers, but at least not the misty conditions of last week.
Beeley Moor is a good 2.3 mile climb up from the village of Beeley to the top of the moors, near Chesterfield. It was the first time I had entered the Chesterfield Couriers event, despite it being the type of hill that generally suits me.
The problem with this time of the year is that there is a feast of great hill climbs, squashed into a small October window. It is always a difficult choice between doing climbs like Burrington Combe Down in Bristol or heading north for climbs like Cragg Vale and Beeley Moor. I’ve never even got around to riding the double header at Matlock, which is on the same weekend. I did once ride Bank road in the 2008 National championships, but Riber is more up my street, 3 minutes of very steep gradient and twisty hairpins. I have to tick it off the list sometime, but, unfortunately not this year.
Some riders deal with this dilemma just by riding several hill climbs on the same day. Nicola Soden and Matt Clinton rushed off after the event to ride Bank road. And I believe Dave Archer of the Bolsover & District CC managed to do all 3 hills climbs in the space of about 4 hours; that’s impressive devotion to the cause of hill climbing. But, as much as I love hill climbs, you can have too much of a good thing. There is a vague idea of tapering around this time of the season. After the race, I certainly wasn’t going to go for a 50 mile warm down ride, which I might get away with earlier in September.
Beeley Moor seemed a good choice because it’s quite similar in length to the national next week. There was also a very good prize list helped by several generous sponsors. It’s been a good hill climb season, with entries generally on the up. I think 70 entries for Chesterfield Couriers was the highest for quite a while.
Length: 2.3 miles
Average gradient: 6%
Max gradient: 10%
elevation gain: 722 ft
Whilst Beeley Moor may be similar in length to the Stang, it’s quite a different proposition. Whilst the Stang is all over the place, with steep gradients and downhill sections. Beeley Moor is much more of a steady gradient. Slightly steeper at the bottom, it only gentle levels off towards the top. I guess, you could easily do it with a fixed gear. But, I didn’t see many around. I arrived at the top of the hill, with enough time to descend and get one practise run in before the first starters got under way. It’s a pretty steady 6% most of the way up. If you have to go up a hill 6% is about as popular gradient as it gets for most cyclists.
Last Tuesday at the Stang was wet, windy and misty so it was a good to go up to North Yorkshire and see the sun out for a change. Arkengarthdale may be a little remote, but with a bit of sunny weather and it becomes a very nice place to be. Even the drive over to Reeth was pleasant with the sun out (and gps turned off). I noted the climb out of Reeth towards Leyburn (over Grinton moor) for future reference. It looks a nice 3 mile long climb, with nearly 300 metres of vertical height gain over a super smooth road surface. I got a few photos from the climb and two cyclists obliged by riding into the picture. It was simply gorgeous in the sun.
One good thing about riding the hill climb course in the preceding week is that you tend to bump into other people doing the same thing. I spoke to a couple of guys who were out riding the course trying to work out best way of tackling the hill. I even saw a time trial bike by the foot of the climb. I met one reader of the blog, Mick, who was looking forward to riding his first national championship. It’s always nice to meet readers of the blog, though when you realise real people read it, you do feel a bit more obliged to try and think of something interesting to say…
Yesterday, I also got interviewed by Cycling Weekly, who will be doing a preview on the national hill climb championships next week.
Do you think you’ve got a chance of wining?
er, I don’t know
– that was about the height of my lucidity. Don’t miss the big preview next week is all I can say.
By the way, there’s no mobile phone reception near the climb.
Stang in the Sun
The prevailing wind
Tuesday was a fierce headwind, but Thursday was more of a tailwind. Unsurprisingly it’s much quicker with tailwind.
I’m glad I got a second chance to practise. As hill climbs go, it’s a little on the technical side. A few fast gear changes are required for the sudden changes of gradient, and you need to work out how hard to go on the first steep section of the climb.
I’d hoped that ‘equipment angst’ of Long Hill would be no more. (What’s best bike to use?). But, even after several goes, I couldn’t quite resolve the whole tribars vs non-tribars debate. As soon as you get on them, you’re itching to change gears. There’s probably nothing much in it either way, but the thought of losing a few seconds to the wrong choice does weigh a little on your mind.
Inspired by this years Tour de France Mountain time trial (where riders usually changed time trial bikes half way through) I’ve decided the quickest way to climb the Stang would be to ride a fixed gear to the top of the steep section and then jump on a time trial bike cunningly left by the side of the road.
The bike changes in the Tour time trial made great TV. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day, all time trials have compulsory bike changes like Formula one to make it more interesting for TV viewers. Or perhaps they should imitate the Brompton World Championships and make people run to their bikes like the old fashioned motor racing. If you can have cobbles in the tour, why not add a few cyclo-cross style fences for riders to jump over?
(Needless to say, I won’t actually be using a bike change. My time trial bike is in the loft. And I’m sure it’s against CTT regulations about putting your foot down and walking (there is a regulation stating you’re not allowed to get off and walk in a hill climb). But, even if it wasn’t technical disallowed – it’s not quite the spirit of hill climbs…
I drove up to Arkengarthdale yesterday to have a go at the Stang hill climb. Despite being only 40 miles as the crow flies from Menston, my Garmin satnav managed to make the journey last nearly two hours. I seemed to go through every hamlet in North Yorkshire. It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say I could have cycled 40 miles quicker myself. I suppose it was good to get a frustrating road journey out of the way before the big event. I came back on the A1 – the journey was further in distance, but quicker and much less stressful than doing 15mph behind a horse box. I’m considering selling my Garmin satnav, it too often sends me on very slow country lanes.
Arkengarthdale really is quite remote. I parked on the road in the village near the CB inn, very few cars went past – which is a good job because I imagine the road will be quite busy with parked cars for the national.
There happened to be a headwind yesterday. It was dry in the village, but once you had climbed the first leg, it was very misty and wet. I got a few photos of the climb, and think have worked out where start and finish are.
The start is opposite Northern gate post of entrance to field situated on the East side of unclassified road Stang Lane, leading to Barnard Castle, approximately 100 meters North from Eskeleth Bridge, and just past the turning on the left of the road to Eskeleth.
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