National hill climb championship 2013

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.

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.

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.


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.

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 overall and junior champion for the second year running.


Maryka Sennema – 2013 HC Champ Womens – Photo Velo UK

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.

Race Compare

Race compare

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.

Results – Top 30

PosRiderClubTimeAgeAv. Speed
Tejvan Pettinger
Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team
James Gullen
Team Hope Factory Racing
Matt Clinton
Mike Vaughan Cycles
Hugh Carthy
Rapha Condor JTL
Richard Handley
Rapha Condor JTL
Dan Evans
Velo Club Melyd
Josh Teasdale
In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp
James Knox
Champion System -Maxgear RT
17 J
Pete Tadros
In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp
43 A
Charles Coleman
Velo Club Walcot
Adam Kenway
Team Zenith –
Jack Pullar
Madison Genesis
Jonathan Cregeen
Biketreks Racing Team
Mike Cuming
Rapha Condor JTL
Conall Yates
In Gear Quickvit Trainsharp
Michael Smith
Team Corley Cycles
Danny Axford
Arctic-SRAM RT
Josh Jardine
Kent Valley RC
17 J
James Dobbin
Arctic-SRAM RT
Max Spedding
Birkenhead North End CC
16 J


  1. Maryka Sennema – Kingston Wheelers CC – 09:49.2
  2. Lynn Hamel Herbalife – Leisure Lakes – 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
  8. Eve Dixon – Champion System – 11.22.1
  9. Karen Poole – – 11.28.6
  10. Annabel Sill – Clay Cross RT – 12.17
  11. Gemma Sargent – Dave Hinde RT – 12.43.5
  12. Jessica Roberts – Velo Club Melyd – 13.05.8
  13. Alice Cobb – Scott Contessa Epic RT – 13.45 (JW)
  14. Isla Rush – Wyndmilla – 14.06 (JW)
  15. Eve Lyon – Nutcracker Racing – 14.28 (JW)
  16. Sharon Clifford – Coventry RC – 14.48

Junior Men

  1. James Knox – 8.25
  2. Josh Jardine – 8.42.9
  3. Max Spedding- 8.46.9

Junior Women

  1. Alice Cobb – 13.45
  2. Isla Rush –  14.06
  3. Eve Lyon – 14.28

Vet Men

  • 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 – 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 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 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 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 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 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 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

See also:


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


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…


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.


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

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.

Read more

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.


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.

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.

Read more

Grinton moor

  • Distance: 1.9 miles
  • Average gradient: 7%
  • Height gain: 659ft (200m)

Grinton Moor is a testing climb from Reeth towards Leyburn. Starting in the village of Grinton. It climbs sharply out of the village before winding it’s way up the moorside.



In July 2014, the Tour de France visited the climb. It was the last categorised climb on stage one, and they rode up at a fair pace.


Grinton Moor, stage one.  Photo Adam Bowie, flickr


Grinton Moor, stage one.  Photo Adam Bowie, flickr

Report from October 2013

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.

riders begin the ascent of Grinton Moor

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…

Grinton moor
Looking towards Reeth from Grinton moor

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

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.

One of the false flats on the Stang – you think you’ve made it to the top about 3 times before you actually have.
Stang in the sun
The top of the world. The finish in glorious sun

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…


Practise run on the Stang


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.

Stang start

The start

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.

The first steep section

Read more

Mow Cop hill climb – Lyme Racing club 2013

After the persistent drizzle of Saturday around Holmfirth, the rain hardened to be a bit heavier for Sunday’s Lyme Racing Mow Cop hill climb. I was still trying to dry off clothes from the day before. I had to dig deep into my old sock draw at my parents house. I only found a very unsuitable long fuzzy pair which looks like they were a novelty Christmas item from many years ago.

Mow Cop in the rain. Great photo from Bhima’s camera gives a good wide angle and gives an impression of how wet it was

It’s amazing how wet everything gets after a few short races. It’s hard work racing in the rain. Back in September the British road team got roundly criticised for not finishing the World Championships because it was ‘a bit wet and hard’. For the armchair critic the British team seemed like sitting ducks for strong criticism. Though my thoughts were muted by the fact I’m sure I would have climbed off  pretty early too. But, I suppose it’s good to have a few races in the rain. It’s good preparation should the nationals be greeted by a downpour. (which is quite possible on the North Yorkshire moors)


Mow Cop is an intriguing climb. It’s one of the most visually spectacular hill climbs because after the first half, if you look up you see the finish 25% segment looming straight ahead of you. It’s looks as intimidating as it is.

After a sorts, I warmed up on the rollers. The rain was fairly light at that point, but as I made my way down to the start line it became heavier. By the level crossing (where the start is), I stripped off several layers of clothes, and left them with the start time keeper. I got off to a good start. After about 7 years of doing hill climbs, I think I’ve finally worked out a good way of starting off. I learnt how to start by watching the track racing at the 2012 Olympics. Basically stand up and put your weight behind saddle. When you here ‘go’ you can push forward and get a bit of momentum. I used to just sit on the saddle. Chris Boardman said a good start can be worth half a second. Us hill climbers always like half a second – especially if it doesn’t cost £500 for a 100 gram weight saving.


The bottom half of the climb soon becomes quite steep. The first ramp gets up to 20% and it makes you work very hard early on. From then on the gradient eases off a little, but it’s still a hard climb because you already went hard at the bottom. I got in to a good rhythm for the first half – in and out of the saddle but pedalling a decent cadence. After about half way, I made a small mistake of looking up at the finish, which loomed on the horizon. I also made the mistake of looking down at which gear I was in – I was already  in the bottom sprocket (39*23) and the steep bit was still to come. It was a bit of lost concentration, but I soon forgot about it and went back to getting up the final really steep part. At one point, I experienced a bit of wheel slip (I had reduced tyre pressure to 90PS) but maybe that was still too high). On the steep bit, there was a quite a crowd cheering you on. There was even a runner, running alongside for a while. Although, it was all a bit of blur at this point, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t dressed up as a tomato or wearing a mankini like you might see in some of the Grand Tours.

Read more

Huddersfield Star Wheelers hill climb


2013 race report –

Saturday was another two hill climbs promoted by Holme Valley Wheelers (Holme Moss) and Huddersfield Star Wheelers (Jackson Bridge). It was deep in the heartland of Yorkshire hill climb country. As Simon Warren once said in his hill climb book, throw an arrow at a map around this neck of the woods, and you’ll probably land on a decent hill climb. They don’t really do flat roads her, but they do have plenty of 20% gradients.

I’d never ridden either climb before, but was lured up north by the prospect of Holme Moss and the chance to compete in the Granville Sydney Memorial hill climb.

Holme Moss Clouded out

Holme Moss in better days.

Next year the Tour de France will be flying up Holme Moss, watched by a global TV audience of millions and 100,000s of spectators by the road side. It was a slightly different set up this weekend, but fundamentally both events do involve cycling up a hill until it hurts really quite a lot.

The Indian summer has well and truly finished. We are now being treated to a very English autumn. It was one of those days where there was a perpetual drizzle. Not ideal conditions for a double hill climb; I came back with a car full of wet stuff. But, they are made of stern stuff up this part of the world. I didn’t see many dns. I guess, if you’re going to do a hill climb, a light drizzle is the least of your concerns.

Unfortunately, Holme Moss is so high up (524m) that the clouds had descended and the thick fog made it unsafe to race. This meant switching to another hill climb course, which was steep and high up, but not sufficiently misty to get lost in the clouds. Fortunately, the reserve hill climb course was just 0.5 miles away (proving the old – throw an arrow at a map and find a hill climb course – theory to be working pretty well)

The drawback of the alternative hill climb course was that it was significantly shorter than Holme Moss. This year I’ve studiously avoided entering any hill climb where the course record is less than 3.30. But, fate wasn’t going to allow me to get away with it. This was, to all intents and purposes a 2 minute hill climb – shorter even than the rake.

2 minute hill climbs just mean you can hurt yourself even more than a long climb, the only saving grace being that it’s over quicker. I didn’t hold back and gave it everything from the start. It was good enough for 2nd place in a time of 2.12. Richard Handley (Rapha CC) showing that chasing Nairo Quintana and Dan Martin up Caerphilly Mountain does wonders for your hill climbing form. He won in a time of 2.06 – not bad for a wiry thin chap like me. Photos at: flamming photography

After a wet and soggy marmite sandwich it was back to the Fleece for a cup of tea, before heading off to the Old Red Lion in Jackson Bridge for part two.


I don’t know if this photo adequately says how grim, wet, and murky it was in Yorkshire. A perfect day for riding up hills…

Read more

New chain for new climbs

This weekend is 3 new hill climbs. Holme Moss (Holme Valley Wheelers), Jackson Bridge (Granville Sydney Memorial event, Huddersfield Star Wheelers) and Mow Cop (Lyme Racing CC) on Sunday. They all look interesting climbs. I’m hoping the gales in the north are blowing the right way up the hills. The hills may either be slow or very slow depending on the direction of the wind. Holme Moss is one of the highest hill climbs in England at 524m. Next year the Tour de France will pass over Holme Moss, probably with greater fan fare than tomorrow morning. But, it’s all happening up in Yorkshire.

The start sheet for the National Hill climb was published yesterday. I’m off number 174, (14.54) There are a lot of familiar names around. My minute man is ironically Sam Ward who inspired me to do my first hill climb over 20 years ago… 180 riders in total. Roads will be closed. More on Nat Hill climb

With the national championships two weeks away, it’s time to start making the last preparations to bike. (rule no.1 is never leave it to the night before) Last year I spent nearly £1,000 on trying to make the bike lighter. This year I spent nothing and sold the lightweight stem and handlebars, preferring to have some extra money than some 100 grams saving. The only thing I bought this year was the Quark power meter, which broke after four weeks. (Keep your money in your pocket is always a good Yorkshire man’s motto)


However, since I’ve had a relatively frugal year of bike components, I did treat myself to a new chain. There are some things which you shouldn’t skimp on a cyclist. Firstly is tyres. Secondly is changing your chain regularly. On my racing bike, I change every 1,000 miles, and always before a big event. You don’t want to lose any power to a worn chain. I don’t usually spend £50 on a chain. But, if there’s ever a time to justify spending £50 on a lightweight chain, this would be it. I bought SRAM because I have snapped a Dura Ace chain doing hill intervals. In other circumstances it may sound cool to say you put down so much power you broke a Dura Ace chain, but if there was ever a time you didn’t want to snap your chain, this would be it.

how not to do your bar tape. Amateurish effort with cellotape

I also treated myself to a new handlebar tape. I was sold on the packaging which said ‘thin tape with almost zero added weight’ – Those are words that instantly  appeal to any hill climber. ‘Almost zero added weight’ and I’ve bought before you can say ‘how much does it weigh?’

Sometimes at national champs, you see bikes without any handlebar tape at all. Every gram stripped from the bike. There is a certain Zen appeal to a bare, stripped down bike. But, for the Stang, you may be on different parts of the handlebars including the drops. If it only weighs a couple of grams there is greater benefit from having a better grip. It could be cold and wet up in North Yorkshire. There are more important factors than even a few grams of extra weight.

How to change bar tape