Today was the Oxford University CC hill climb. It was on a private road from the attractive village of Wytham up through the woods used by Oxford University research teams. I wanted to do the race because it is probably the only climb in Oxfordshire I haven’t ever done – it is usually closed to the public. It had a lovely smooth tarmac which felt great to ride on.
The climb does not rank in the epic category but makes a reasonable four-minute effort. The steepest section is at the bottom, just after the start and then there are several false flats with slight rises every now and then. It means you have to go pretty hard from the off and try and maintain your speed in the last half of the climb. You can’t really get into a rhythm as the gradient is never constant; it was an interesting climb to do. Probably perfect for my current shape.
I only entered the event on an impulse after bumping into an OUCC rider at some traffic lights in Oxford. After putting the entry form in, I regretted it almost immediately. In the end, it was kind of worth it, but it felt a bit weird not only to be doing a hill climb but to be even riding a proper road bike. Sometimes when cyclists say ‘they haven’t done any training’ you have to treat it with a pinch of salt. But, in my case, it’s a pretty fair assessment. I was in bad shape three weeks ago, but since then haven’t touched the road bike at all. I’ve spent a year trying to ride through a minor injury but now have given up until it is better. There’s only so much motivation you can muster to ride through aches and pains.
It was strange to enter a hill climb when the primary motivation was to catch up with some fellow cyclists. My warm-up consisted of cycling from home to Wytham. I never imagined I’d be able to ride to an open hill climb by riding up the A34. At least it is a nice change from driving to the other end of the country. There was no thought of the traditional hill climb weight weenie efforts, I rode with my training wheels (though one of my training wheels is a Zipp 202 so not exactly a handicap). I did make the effort to remove my saddle bag – you have to keep up appearances. Though I couldn’t be bothered to shave my legs so I rode in leg-warmers. I thought that overall – leg warmers are less offensive than hairy legs and lycra.
My warm-up consisted of going to the toilet a few times and standing by a radiator. I did a few random circles around the village just to finish it off. It’s a really nice village Wytham – very little thru’ traffic just a lot of dead-ends and private roads.
At the start, I vagued out and at 10 seconds to go was almost dozing off during the countdown. But, when I came to attention, the race was OK; I did a pretty good effort, and probably paced the effort as well as I could. I hadn’t been as hard since probably last year in Nat HC 2016. It was good to get the old buzz of racing back.
Richard Gildea (Didcot CC) won in a very good time of 3.39 (or something) I was half a minute back in 4.09 – respectable enough, but well off the podium. Richard may be an outside flutter for the podium in next weeks national hill climb. One of top southern hill climbers this year. 1st lady was Anabell Orenz (North Cotswold CC)
I’m not sure if this will prove to be a come-back ride or a final slinking off into the sunset. I hope the former, but at the moment, racing at top-form seems like a real mountain to climb. This year I have missed the hill climb season quite a lot.
Big thanks to Oxford University CC for organising the event. It was a good promotion and a great find to be able to use this private road. Over 60 riders entered – many of them from local clubs – which I feel is a pretty good turnout for an open hill climb.
Pos Name Team Time
- 1 Richard Gildea Didcot Phoenix CC Male 3:38
- 2 Greg Fitzek Cowley Road Condors CC Male 3:42
- 3 David Ross LFGSS CC Male 3:46
- 4 John Mulvey Cambridge University CC Male 3:59
- 5 Angus Fisk Oxford University CC Male 4:01
- 6 John Hunt Beacon Roads CC Male 4:02
- 7 Tejvan Pettinger Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team Male 4:05
- 8 James King Oxford University CC Male 4:06
- 9 David Pearson Oxford University CC Male 4:06
- 10 James Haworth Univ of Warwick Tri & Road CC Male 4:06
- 11 Matt Kerin Oxford University CC Male 4:09
- 12 Joe Baker Bolsover and District CC Male 4:11
- 13 Vincenzo Pratley Oxford University CC Male 4:15
- 14 Nathan Woodhouse Leighton Buzzard Road Cycling Club Male 4:16
- 15 Matthew Grey Spokes BPC Racing Male 4:16
- 16 Oliver Withers Reading CC Male 4:17
- 17 Peter Fry Cowley Road Condors CC Male 4:19
- 18 Eddie Rolls Oxford University CC Male 4:20
- 19 Oliver Bent Oxford University CC Male 4:21
- 20 James Scrivener Reading CC Male 4:21
- 21 Matthew Peters Oxford University CC Male 4:21
- 22 Nic Stevenson Westerley Cycling Club Male 4:21
- 23 Simon Hunt Farnborough & Camberley CC Male 4:22
- 24 Bryn Davies Oxford University CC Male 4:26
- 25 Alex Byrne-Smith LFGSS CC Male 4:30
- 26 James Beechey Baines Racing Silverstone Cycle Male 4:30
- 27 Jack Brent Oxford University CC Male 4:30
- 28 Andrew Pollard Cowley Road Condors CC Male 4:31
- 29 Jonathan Groves Rapha Cycling Club Male 4:32
- 30 Joe Morrow Oxford University CC Male 4:32
- 31 Peter Cowan Didcot Phoenix CC Male 4:35
- 32 Jon Cox Oxford University CC Male 4:36
- 33 Joshua Long Oxford University CC Male 4:37
- 34 Simon Abram Oxford University CC Male 4:38
- 35 Dan Neal Aylesbury CC Male 4:40
- 36 Jack Pinchin A5 Rangers CC Male 4:40
- 37 Matthew Ridley Oxford University CC Male 4:41
- 38 Tianyou Xu Oxford University CC Male 4:41
- 39 Simon Bromfield Charlotteville Cycling Club Male 4:43
- 40 Jack Smith Brighton Mitre CC Male 4:44
- 41 Anabell Orenz North Cotswold CC Female 4:45
- 42 Valentin Sulzer Oxford University CC Male 4:50
- 43 Tamara Davenne Oxford University CC Female 4:56
- 44 Mark Shepherd Banjo Cycles.com/Raceware/Specialized Male 4:57
- 45 David McCann Beacon Roads CC Male 4:59
- 46 Robert McCraith Oxford University CC Male 5:06
- 47 Aimee Lane Wyre Forest Cycle Racing Club Female 5:19
- 48 Michael Kaye 100% ME Male 5:21
- 49 James Schofield Maybush Cycle Club Male 5:31
- 50 Justin Strauss Oxford University CC Male 5:32
- 51 Dan Batute Newbury RC Male 5:33
- 52 Hermione Harrison Oxford University CC Female 5:36
- 53 Alice Gatland Tuff Fitty Tri Club Female 5:48