2013 National championship hill climb
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 backup 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 perhaps I was worried I wouldn’t be able to stop going down the other side with a 40mph tailwind. 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.
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 and junior champion.
Maryka Sennema Kingston Wheelers CC was ladies champion with 9:49.2 – just pipping former national champion Lynn Hamel
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.
Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team
Team Hope Factory Racing
Mike Vaughan Cycles
Rapha Condor JTL
Rapha Condor JTL
Velo Club Melyd
In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp
Champion System -Maxgear RT
In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp
Velo Club Walcot
Team Zenith – www.buzzcycles.co.uk
Biketreks Racing Team
Rapha Condor JTL
In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp
Team Corley Cycles
Kent Valley RC
Birkenhead North End CC
- Maryka Sennema – Kingston Wheelers CC – 09:49.2
- Lynn Hamel Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com – 10:06.6
- Angela Hibbs – Tyneside Vagabonds CC – 10:25.6
- 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
- More comprehensive results at:Results of CTT hill climb championship
- National hill climb at Cycling Weekly
- Report at Velo UK
- PJ’s blog at Traumradfahren
- report at Sri Chinmoy Races
- report at CTT
Rouleur magazine sponsored the hill climb. Helped to have closed roads
photo top via PJ