Firstly, my story writing capabilities are some-what nonexistent as I spend my days studying books on theories and equations nowadays. Secondly, my hill-climbing capabilities is probably on par with my story writing so I hope you’re not expecting ground breaking results when reading this.
Now, for those of you who are unaware about a cycling ‘hill-climb’ race, it is exactly as the name suggests, the organizers of the event find a steep enough, rough enough section of road, generally select a weekend in October through to December when the weather is most likely going to be crap, and set the date. This sport is some-what of a prestigious British event and attracts similar folk to those who do fell-running (another sport they’ve engineered to bring upon pain and misery), athletes go off individually with 30 sec between each and pretty much go all out until you reach the timing mat at the top of the hill.
Hill-climbers tend to be a rather special breed as they arrive at the start-line, in 8 degrees might I add, with a skin suit on, large pair of shades, and a cycling cap; this is legal in hill climbs regardless of the fact after you go up the +16 degree climb you must then descend it. They also are serious weight weenies and tend to take every ounce of unnecessary mechanical item off their bike. This includes: rear brakes, bottle cages, and the drops on their road bars.
So you can imagine myself arriving at the British University Hill-climb championships on my aero road bike and every piece of winter gear I could find including booties, looking a bit out of place. Nevertheless, after setting off 87th out of a total of 180 male athletes, and current leading time at 2:21min, I had my doubts! The first kilometer of the race was most certainly the hardest with an 800m straight at a gradient of +16 degrees. Shortly after reaching the bridge at half way I caught up to two competitors ahead of me which boost my moral/ego and I was able to get out of the saddle and punch it up the remaining 800m or so, arriving at the top in a time of 2:41min which landed me in 44th position overall.
The experience itself is worth the effort as the crowds line the dainty little country road screaming and rattling cattle bells of every athlete coming past. But for now as Winter is coming and England begins to decent on the 0 degree mark I shall be spending the majority of my cycling days on Zwift…with the heater on.