Shap Fell hill climb 2016

It is the first hill climb of the year, though the nine mile slog from Kendal to the top of Shap on the A6, never feels like your traditional hill climb. It was also my first race under 25 miles. I haven’t done any 10 mile TT’s yet to gauge efforts.

The important thing for Shap hill climb is the wind direction. The wind from the south makes it “fast”. The wind from the north makes it painfully slow.

Photo Kenny Roberts Photo: Kenny Roberts (2015). I used same wheel and bike combination Zipp disc, and lightweight front wheel without deep section.

Driving over to Kendal, it was quite wet and blustery, but fortunately the weather cleared up for the race, just leaving a nice strong tailwind. Setting off from north of Kendal, I was soon nearly in my top gear of 56*11. That’s a proper hill climb when you can go at 30mph plus. However, even a strong tailwind doesn’t get you up a gradient of 3-10%. The speed still plummets when the road gets steep. Although the average gradient is 3%, there is a considerable bit of flat and also downhill sections, so it means there are some more testing gradients and a lot of variable power efforts. It also goes on for nine miles. With a tailwind, the climb is a rough approximation to a sporting 10 mile time trial. With the wind at your back, I’m always a little uncertain whether to get low or to sit up and benefit from the wind. But, I was on my tribars for most of the ride, apart from the last tricky descent where there was a strong sidewind before the last steepest section to the line.

Course record

I’ve had my eye on the Shap Fell course record for quite a few years. The first two years (2010 + 2011) I was defeated by a strong headwind. The last two years have had the wind in the right direction, but the course was shortened due to long-term traffic lights on the A6 embankment. Today the wind was right, and I knew it would be quick. But, James Gullen (Pedal Heaven) was also on the startsheet. Gullen has had a great year, setting 17 minute 10s, breaking course records by Bradley Wiggins and doing well in some Premier Calenders. It was a shame I was last man, because I felt I had more chance of holding course record for nine minutes if I went off before him.

In the end we both smashed the course record. I did 23.07 – nearly two minutes off the course record. James did 22.49 – two minutes 13 off the course record. No record is ever on the shelf forever, but it won’t be so easy to break again. It’s not often you take nearly two minutes off a course record, but settle for 2nd.

Kelly Murphy (Boot out Breast Cancer CC) also set a new women’s course record of 27.52.

Coming back down


Coming back down was interesting. The first steep bit the wind seemed to blow around all over the place. By the end of nine miles descent, it was quite cold and relieved to have made it. The huge tailwind was just a little reminiscent of 2013 on the Stang, where another very blustery tailwind made the ascent quick and descent tricky and cold.

Often after Shap I’ve cycled over to Great Dun Fell, but it was already getting on in the afternoon. It’s a shame because there was a good tailwind up the Great Dun Fell too.

Comparisons to previous years

When I first rode in 2010, I did a time of 29.56, with an average speed of 18.5mph. I didn’t have a power meter in those days, but I would hazard a guess, it was very similar to 333 watts. So the direction of wind can make a good six minutes different.

Previous results from Shap Fell

  • 2016 – 23.07 – 2nd (tailwind) Av. power 333 watts. Max speed 41.8mph (cadence 90) Average speed 23.2 mph
  • 2015 – 16.43 – 1st (short course) (tailwind) – Av. sp 25.0 mph. av. power 328 watts.
  • 2014 – 17.45 – 1st (short course) (link) (tailwind)
  • 2011 – 28.27  – 1st. (headwind)
  • 2010 – 29.56 – 1st (headwind) Av. speed 18.5 mph

Results from 2016

PositionNameClubCatEvent Time
1James GullenPedal HeavenM00:22:49
2Tejvan PettingerSri Chinmoy Cycling TeamM00:23:07
3Craig SteeleLakes RCM00:25:19
4Jake CowenThe Nab Racing TeamM00:25:48
5Derek ParkinsonSpringfield Financial Racing TeamM4000:25:51
6Martin Mikkelsen-BarronVelo Club CumbriaM00:25:55
7Richard BickleyBorder City Wheelers CCM00:26:07
8Andy AshurstManchester WheelersM5000:26:55
9Andrew NewbyLangsett Cycles RTM00:26:55
10Tom RoperBeacon WheelersMJun00:26:56
11David AllonbySpringfield Financial Racing TeamM00:27:12
12Ian SibbertGarstang Cycling ClubM4000:27:24
13Aaron TonksRibble Valley CRCM4000:27:36
14Peter GreenwoodTeam SwiftM6000:27:40
15Paul FlemingPreston WheelersM5000:27:45
16Sam AndertonNorth Lancs RCM00:27:46
17Kelly MurphyBoot Out Breast Cancer CCW00:27:52
18Sam HoldenLancashire RCM00:28:08
19William SissonKendal Cycling ClubM00:28:18
20Keith MelvinRock to Roll CyclesM00:28:19
21Paul BraithwaitePendle ForestM4000:28:20
22Kieran LaceyLakes RCM00:28:28
23Andrew AskwithBridlington CCM5000:28:37
24Nathan TurnbullLeigh PremierM00:28:45
25Darren BrackwellLakes RCM00:29:05
26Grant OrmerodTeam Wallis CHHM00:29:22
27Phil ShawKent Valley RCM4000:29:26
28Duncan OrmeKent Valley RCM4000:29:36
29Claire SwobodaStarley RacingW00:29:50
30Benjamin HorrobinHorwich Cycling ClubMJun00:29:57
31Gethin ButlerPreston WheelersM4000:30:25
32Stuart TimminsNorth Lancs RCM5000:30:29
33Derek SchofieldRossendale Road ClubM6000:30:32
34David WilkinsonKent Valley RCM5000:30:35
35Aaron HemsleyPBK-SantiniM00:30:52
36Bethany CrumptonBoot Out Breast Cancer CCW00:31:09
37Dougi HallBorder City Wheelers CCM5000:31:55
38Nikola MatthewsBoot Out Breast Cancer CCW00:31:59
39Dave BatesonHorwich Cycling ClubM6000:32:24
40Mike WestmorlandBorder City Wheelers CCM7000:32:36
41Tim BennettKent Valley RCM5000:32:39
42Roy FlanaganRossendale Road ClubM5000:33:06
43Carol WestmorlandBorder City Wheelers CCW4000:33:10
44Martin HorrobinHorwich Cycling ClubM4000:33:18
45Ruth TaylorBoot Out Breast Cancer CCW00:34:18
46Stephen GlenwrightVTTA (Merseyside)M5000:34:26
47Caroline LeightonLancashire RCW4000:34:47
48Bethany TaylorBoot Out Breast Cancer CCW00:34:49
49Amanda HowardKent Valley RCW5000:35:50
50Paul TargettPendle ForestM5000:37:07
51James EdgeSpringfield Financial Racing TeamM7000:38:11
52Peter KnottKent Valley RCM7000:49:25


Results image


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