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.
Short steep hill
It is the nature of the hill climb championship than alternating hills suit different riders. Both men and womens champions won Monsal Head this year. The number of different winners in recent years show how difficult it has become to retain the title. The last person to retain the mens title was Dan Fleeman in 2010.
Also, they say these short hill climbs are a young persons game, and looking at the result it’s understandable.
Though what a short hill loses in length, it can make up for in atmosphere. I can’t remember seeing so many spectators at a national hill climb championship. It was certainly packed and noisy towards the steepest bit of the climb. It was good to see so many riders and spectators enjoying the day. It takes a lot of effort to close a road for three hours these days. So thanks to Matlock CC and the marshalls who helped make it possible. The catcher marshalls were also doing a very good job.
The weather was unusually good for late October. Warm, dry and barely a drop of wind (makes a change from past 3 years). With the top seeds distributed throughout the start sheet it was a blessing that the wind wasn’t variable to potentially influence the outcome.
For myself, it hasn’t been a vintage hill climb season. I’ve been struggling with a hip injury since a 12 hour TT in June. It still persists and I’ve only done sporadic training in recent months. I’ve have been up a short hill in Shotover in Oxford a few times, but every time I tried, I went slower – so in the end gave up. On top of this, I developed a cough and cold so spent quite a bit of time deciding whether to race. I had several logical reasons to dns – injury, cold, wrong hill, little training. But, in the end I still wanted to be there and take part. It wasn’t particularly rational to spend five hours driving for a 2 minute steep hill climb with a cold – but then entering hill climbs isn’t particularly rational in the first place.
I arrived and parked near the climb. I warmed up by cycling up the back of the hill and taking photos of some early riders. I then only did 20 minutes light riding on the rollers so as not to aggravate the cold, then I went to the start and set off. I haven’t ridden the course since 2008, so didn’t remember it particularly well. I kept a reasonable pace and tried to go harder when it got steeper. With chesty cough and lack of focus for this championship, I didn’t really push the limits like in some hill climbs, but still kept a respectable effort. 41st place isn’t great when you were the champion a couple of years ago, but all things considered I was reasonably happy with a time of 2.40. If I had been fit and healthy for past three months I would have gone quicker but probably not too much. At least with 41st place, I’ve probably secured entry for next year’s championship.
By comparison with 2008 I did 2.42 and finished 14th. So at least I did go faster than 2008. In 2008, I think I did just one or two races, I didn’t keep a record in those days. My blogs were much shorter too – 2008 National Hill climb
A nice problem to have
I’ve left it to the last, but one feature of this hill climb championship was its incredibly popularity with around 450 entrants for just 180 minutes of closed roads. As some have already said, it is a nice problem to have and when it is this oversubscribed – whatever you do, some people will be disappointed not to make the cut. However, there were a few issues with how the field was selected and set out – for future years, there are some things which can be improved. I may write a separate post later in week. In short – I do hope the top women get minute intervals for future fields. And bad luck to Andy Cunningham who has been going well, but didn’t get a ride this year. However, maybe 30 second intervals can work for non-favourites – I heard it worked out quite well on this kind of climb.
Nevertheless I enjoyed the day. It’s the first time in many years I’ve turned up to a hill climb championship without any pressure or expectation of trying to get on the hill climb podium. I was pleased I got a chance to congratulate Adam Kenway just as he was heading off in the car. It brought back memories of the year I won, it’s a good feeling.
The best thing about this hill climb season was winning at Burrington Combe last weekend (2 mile climb). If I can blow my own trumpet to make up for coming 41st today, I did actually beat Isaac Mundy into second place last weekend – which shows how different climbs suit different physiologies. I did tell him he would go very well this weekend. Hopefully there is more to come.
2017 National hill climb championship
The 2017 National Hill climb championship is in the North East. Around 1 mile, average 8%. Current fastest time around 4 minutes – so more like Jackson Bridge, though not quite as steep. It will be organised by a keen hill climber – Ben Lane of G.S Metro – good luck !
weight of me 61.5kg (day before) with clothes on day 63.5kg. Bike 5.7 kg. See photos of bike
- Time: 2.40.
- Power: 473 watts
- Adam Kenway (Metaltek Kuota RT) 2.18.2
- Isaac Mundy (Oxford University CT) 2.20.4
- James Lowden (Team ASL360) 2.20.8
- Kieran Wynne-Cattanach (Rhos-on-Sea CC) 2.23.6
- Joseph Clark (Envelopemaster Giant Sheffield) 2.23.9
- Leon Wright (Team PB Performance) 2.24.4
- Richard Bussell (AeroCoach) 2.25.7
- James Hayward (Woolwich CC) 2.26.8
- William Bourne (Handsling Racing Team) 2.27.6
- Shaun Dolby (Birdwell Wheelers) 2.28.2
- Lou Bates (Veloschils Interbike RT) 2.57.1
- Becky Lewis (Wrexham RC) 3.01.5
- Joanne Clay (TORQ Performance) 3.01.8
- Joscelin Lowden (Lewes Wanderers CC) 3.01.9
- Fiona Burnie (Bishop Auckland CC) 3.07.1
- Lynn Hamel (Team Lusso 72 Design.com) 3.09.8
- Maryka Sennema (PacelineRT) 3.10.9
- Alice Lethbridge (Starley Racing) 3.11.5
- Rebecca Goodson (Sheffrec CC) 3.15.4
- Jessica Roberts (Team Elite/Paul Bethell Electrical) 3.20.8
A good setting for hill climb.
Joe Clark, who set new course record up nearby Riber last week.
Dan Evans has been going well on the longer climbs this year.
its getting steeper.
225 Jack ‘O Neil.
Matlock is great place in late October.
Trees in autumn colour.
Fixe gear bike looking sleak.