Enjoyment of sport

When I look at the football Premiership there always seems to be dissatisfaction bubbling below the surface. Even if you look at the most successful teams in the Premier league – Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea – even at these clubs that win trophies, there always seems to be an underlying under-current of dissatisfaction. A few loses and everyone turns on somebody to blame.  I watch highlights of the Premier League on Match of the Day for the beautiful goals, but usually fast forward through the football punditry in between. ‘The beautiful game’  does seem driven by money and the need for results. That’s the modern game, and perhaps people enjoy the pressure, tension and all that goes with that. But, if I had to choose between the riches of being a professional footballer and an amateur cyclist, I’d jump an the chance to pay £7 to ride up and the A31 before you have chance to say ‘it’s only a game.’

cycle-smile-junction

For me sport is something to be enjoyed, not in the traditional sense of a nice pleasurable experience. It is a very different kind of satisfaction that you get from racing at the limit. I try to do the best I can, and to win is a real bonus. But, that’s not the only motivation for sport. I’d like to think I will keep enjoying cycling, even when the advancing years, start to push me down the results board. Continue Reading →

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Cycling weekly and a future career in sumo wrestling

It’s not often a time triallist gets on the front cover of Cycling Weekly, so I went out and bought a copy from WH Smith.  I share the front page with the rather bizarre sight of Chris Froome taking part in Sumo wrestling – I think the correct term is ‘quiet news week’

Perhaps next year, Chris Froome should be invited to enter the British hill climb season and I can use my natural muscular build to take Japanese sumo wrestling by storm.

Looking at the photo in Cycling Weekly,  I think top of my Christmas list is a new pair of lightweigh aerodynamic racing socks, and a packet of safety pins to be kept in my car at all times.

Also: Interview with Velo UK 

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Just missing out on the medals

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.

2005 12th (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.

20077th (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

bank-road

Bank road Matlock

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 Continue Reading →

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Secrets of hill climbs

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:

tejvan-start-action

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!

Continue Reading →

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Video of hill climb

I felt for the cameramen out in the rain for 3 hours. The video gives an idea of the race and conditions.

It’s interesting to see the other riders style of riding (which you don’t get to see when you’re racing).

For next year, I will be sawing off the drops. I think cameraman missed me because at that point of the hill I was quite close to catching my minute man Sam Ward.

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National hill climb championship 2013

photo via PJ

2014 National hill climb championship

  • will be held on Pea Royd Lane
  • It is promoted by Stocksbridge CC
  • Startsheet at CTT

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.

bottom-steep

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.

Week before

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.

rollers

only managed rollers for a few minutes

 

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.

The Race

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.

tejvan-start-line

tejvan-start-line

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)

tejvan-b

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.

Bhima's photo from his camera left on the hill. His camera got wet, but it summarises the day

Bhima’s photo from his camera left on the hill. His camera got wet, but it summarises the day

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.

Thanks to readers for kind comments.

Results

PosRiderClubN1N2N3
1
Tejvan Pettinger
Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team
07:57.7
36
17.559
2
James Gullen
Team Hope Factory Racing
07:59.8
24
17.482
3
Matt Clinton
Mike Vaughan Cycles
08:08.1
28
17.185
4
Hugh Carthy
Rapha Condor JTL
08:15.8
19
16.918
5
Richard Handley
Rapha Condor JTL
08:18.6
23
16.823
6
Dan Evans
Velo Club Melyd
08:19.5
32
16.793
7
Josh Teasdale
In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp
08:24.7
19
16.620
8
James Knox
Champion System -Maxgear RT
08:25.6
17 J
16.590
9
Pete Tadros
In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp
08:29.1
43 A
16.476
10
Charles Coleman
Velo Club Walcot
08:29.2
22
16.473
11
Adam Kenway
Team Zenith – www.buzzcycles.co.uk
08:32.2
26
16.376
12
Jack Pullar
Madison Genesis
08:32.7
23
16.360
13
Jonathan Cregeen
Biketreks Racing Team
08:35.2
20
16.281
14
Mike Cuming
Rapha Condor JTL
08:37.0
22
16.224
15
Conall Yates
In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp
08:37.9
33
16.196
16
Michael Smith
Team Corley Cycles
08:41.3
25
16.091
17
Danny Axford
Arctic-SRAM RT
08:42.6
38
16.051
18
Josh Jardine
Kent Valley RC
08:42.9
17 J
16.041
19
James Dobbin
Arctic-SRAM RT
08:43.0
35
16.038
20
Max Spedding
Birkenhead North End CC
08:46.6
16 J
15.929

Women

  1. Maryka Sennema – Kingston Wheelers CC – 09:49.2
  2. Lynn Hamel Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com – 10:06.6
  3. Angela Hibbs – Tyneside Vagabonds CC – 10:25.6
  4. Joanne Blakeley – Champion System -Maxgear RT – 11:07.7
  5. Helen Eborall – Born to Bike – Bridgtown Cycles -11:12.4
  6. Nicola Soden Champion System -Maxgear RT -11:16.3
  7. Lou Collins – Beeston RC -11:17.0

see also:

Related

Rouleur magazine sponsored the hill climb. Helped to have closed roads

photo top via PJ

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Preview of National Championships

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…

cattle-grid

It should be OK for spectators, a few showers, but at least not the misty conditions of last week.

There’s a double page preview in Cycling Weekly.

 

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The growth of bike sharing schemes across globe

At last years United States Conference of Mayors, the forum concluded:

“communities that have invested in pedestrian and bicycle projects have benefited from improved quality of life, healthier population, greater local real-estate values, more local travel choices, and reduced air pollution.” (Economist)

Can the country of Henry Ford and eight lane highways really be on the verge of embracing the bicycle? Well words are one thing, action on the ground is another. But, in the past few decades, there has been a remarkable growth in the number of bike sharing schemes across the world.

bike sharing madison-wi-afagen-flickr-51035749109@N01

Photo: Adam Fagen Flickr – Madison – US

Generally bike sharing schemes didn’t get off to the best start. Cities like Amsterdam and Cambridge which offered free bikes, typically saw the noble endeavour of offering 500 free bikes taken up mainly by bike thieves who promptly stole the bikes, leaving only good intentions and critics claiming vindication bike sharing could never work.

However, since then there has been a steady evolution of bike sharing schemes. With better technology and good administration enabling bike sharing schemes to have varying degrees of success. It is no longer a fringe idea of cycling nuts. American mayors are looking to embrace these eye-catching (and possibly vote winning) schemes. Cities with bike sharing schemes have not exactly gone Dutch, there is no cycling nirvana; but t in cities which have really embraced the bike sharing idea, there is a noticeable shift in cycling rates.

The growth of bicycle sharing schemes

update112_program_region-earth-policy-org

Source: Earth Policy

One of the first bike sharing schemes was tried by Amsterdam in 1965, 500 free white bikes left around the city. But, this was not the most auspicious start. Bikes tended to soon disappear, and the scheme was later abandoned. Though, it is worth noting that this was a period where Amsterdam and the Netherlands saw a resurgence in cycling rates. Continue Reading →

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Beeley Moor Hill Climb

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.

Beeley-finish-flag

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.

beeley2

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.

Beeley Moor

  • 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. Continue Reading →

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