Streatley Hill Climb (national warm up event)

Today was a club event, promoted by Didcot Phoenix, on Streatley hill. It was partly a test run for the 2020 National hill climb which is scheduled for the end of October.


Streatley hill is one of the closest open hill climbs to Oxford. Just 18 miles, if you take the direct route. It would make a good training hill, but I’ve never really liked Streatley for some reason! I prefer the slightly longer climbs in the Chilterns and Brill. Anyway, I was grateful for the opportunity to have a go and am glad I had a test run. The last time I raced Streatley was in 2012.

I wasn’t sure whether to drive or cycle to the event. In the end, I decided to cycle and was glad I did. There was strong northerly wind, so the ride there was nice and easy. Though the return leg after racing was a long slog. I picked up my number and did one or two half-hearted efforts up Goring hill. I was already well warmed up, it was more a case of not getting cold. Goring is quite a busy place with parked cars so you have to be patient to get through the village. Also to get to Streatley hill there is traffic light across an A-road. (which if you were late for your start could seem lasts a long time).


With no pusher-offs, we have been starting ourselves. Today, there was something to hold on to. After 5,4,3,2,1, Go – it was almost like my hand got stuck to the thing and it seemed like an eternity (probably 0.5 seconds) before I started to make any forward movement.

I went off pretty hard from the start and at halfway was doing really well. But, then I steadily got slower and near the end, at the steepest section, I was grovelling down the gears and going at walking pace, it didn’t feel so much like racing as surviving.

Despite doing hill climbs for getting on for a quarter of a century, the art of pacing a climb can sometimes be elusive. I’m a little rusty in this regard. Sometimes in a race, you try harder than you do in training. I’ve often struggled with the two-minute efforts more than anything. Perhaps because – if it’s two minutes, part of you thinks – it will all be over pretty quick so just go out really fast and hope for the best. But, even a two and a half minute effort you have to be careful. My effort reminded me of the 2012 National Hill Climb Championship on the Rake. I was in good form in 2012, but my legs went to jelly at the very steep, unforgiving 22% section of the Rake, and I ended up going down a few gears and slowing right down.

Streatley HC

Streatley speed and power

Streatley power



I don’t look at power meter when riding, but I do look afterwards; this is not very good pacing. There is too much power 500w+ when I’m doing 17mph at the start. But, when the hill gets really steep at the end, I was doing 350 watts for 6 mph. Comparing to other riders, I lost several seconds in a few metres.

There was a mostly headwind today, but to be honest Streatley is quite sheltered and so it wasn’t that noticeable.

I was quite pleased with the effort I made overall, but the pacing is definitely room for improvement. It feels a similar result to Snap Hill. Perfect pacing for someone who was 10% faster.

I haven’t ridden Streatley for quite a while, and it seemed to be a bit steeper at the end than I remember. I think this is becoming a recurring theme of this season’s efforts – all the hills are steeper than I remember! Greg LeMond famously said, “It doesn’t get easier, you just go faster”. I think I will offer an updated version “It doesn’t get any harder, you just go slower!”


The shadow hanging over life at the moment is the Covid situation. Even since a few weeks ago, when I first raced, the situation has changed. Didcot Phoenix (and Newbury) did a good job to ensure the best Covid protocols and make the race as low-risk as possible. It was interesting the Tour de France spent three weeks and there were very few positive COVID results, reinforcing the benefits of outside events. I do hope the national can go ahead; there are a lot of excellent riders in both the men and women sections. The national hill climb can be more like an Olympic cycle. To get your best result, you need that combination of the perfect hill for your characteristics and your best form. I was in very good form in 2012 but the Rake was a chastising experience. Fortunately, I got a good hill the next year, before my form dipped too much. If you haven’t got some explosive power, you can do all the training in the world, but you can’t change your body type. (I know, I tried!)

I enjoyed the long ride out and back. It was a good 50 miles or so. Even with very minimal contact with other riders and marshalls, it was nice to say hello to a few people in passing. For me (working from home) this counts as a major source of social interaction these days. It’s definitely good for the spirits to get out of the house.

Overall 2.36 was OK. With racing wheels, bottle cages removed and a better pacing strategy, hopefully, I can go a little bit quicker at the end of October.

My previous races on Streatley hill

  • 2004 – 2.38 (5th/38)
  • 2005 – 2.39 (5th/27)
  • 2006 – (2.??) (4th) – not sure of time
  • 2012 – 2.24 (2nd/20)
  • 2020 – 2.36.7 14th /52


Results 2020 (non-official, I sorted Google doc with raw times, no categories)

1Cameron BiddleVredestein Basso2’12.94”
2Matthew CoulsonOxford University Cycling club2’21.87”
3Craig RogersCambridge University Cycling Club2’22.72”
4Robert RogersLoughborough Students cycling club2’24.12”
5Joe BakerSpirit Tifosi2’25.44”
6Edward LaverackVAMos.CC2’30.02”
7Josh CoyneBPM Coaching2’32.34”
8James HaywardWoolwich Cycling Club2’33.44”
9James BevanArmy Cycling Union2’33.84”
10Charlie AgerNewbury Velo2’34.09”
11Kirk VickersHolohan Coaching RT2’34.09”
12Matt MelvilleCC Basingstoke2’35.51”
13William SmithVerulam Really Moving RaceTeam2’36.34”
14Tejvan PettingerSri Chinmoy CT2’36.76”
15Phil StonelakeBristol Road Club2’38.91”
16Tom WilliamsWebbs 1902 CC2’40.30”
17Cameron McLarenVector Cycling Racing Team2’41.19”
18Glyn GriffithsWestSide Coaching, 73 Degrees Bicycles rt2’46.16”
19Danny Lake360VRT2’46.84”
20Connah TowersArmy Cycling Union2’48.97”
21Ryn OldamReading CC2’49.76”
22Gerard HenryUniversity of Warwick2’51.84”
23Mark, TrevisInformed Sport – LGC2’54.19”
24Nicholas BakerDidcot Phoenix CC2’54.26”
25Dan Capel-SmithUniversity of Bath2’54.34”
26Bithja JonesPankhurst Cycles2’54.41’1st women
27Richard MorganBarrow Central Wheelers2’55.19”
28Kevin ThomasBOA CC2’55.59”
29Francis EadesIslington Cycle Club2’55.76”
30Oscar ClarkTeam Vision2’56.05”
31James KnightonLondon Dynamo2’57.72”
32Charlie OpenshawIslington CC2’59.94”
33Michael ShuteMid Devon CC3’01.91”
34Alice LethbridgeDrag2zero3’09.97”
35Peter FryCowley Road Condors3’10.69”
36Frances OwenWrexham RC3’14.30”
37Louise HartVeloperformance3’19.69”
38Alastair MerrillVC103’22.41”
39Matt PicozziThames Valley Triathletes3’24.51”
40Paul EastReading CC3’26.69”
41Jonny SmithBMCC3’27.41”
42Stephen LeyLondon velo cafe cc3’40.55”
43Hope InglisJRC Shutt Ridley RT3’48.94”
44John SimmonsNone3’58.47”
45Phil ManlyNjinga4’11.97”
46Lewis RidgePalmer Park Velo RT4’34.59”
47George SpoonerCambridge University Cycling ClubDNS
48Andrew GrangerTwickenham CCDNS (A)
49Richard GildeaDidcot Phoenix CCDNS(A)
50Rose-Marie MONCRIEFFEVelo Club LondresDNS(A)
51Cliodhna KennedyReading CCDNS(A)
52Andrew MetherellSalt and Sham Cycle ClubLate start 4’06.44” (3’11.44”)

BTW: Great to have results within a few hours of racing.

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