i took my my girlfriend up north to meet my mum and Ian. it just so happened to coincide with two hillclimbs the weekend before the national, both of a similar length and incline. what are the odds on that? amazing.
the first one was at Barley, and it was a dour, damp affair. the host club were lovely, it was well-supported and boasted the frightening mike cuming and ian stott as favourites. i rode the climb twice beforehand, it was quite a gentle gradient, possibly around 7% and consistent, no nasty surprises around hidden bends.
the only downside was a persistent drizzle, making it very difficult to get warm, and stay warm. it reminded me of dursley, except it was a lot colder. the rainfall and malevolent low-cloud slightly spoiled the beautiful scenery, lots of rolling lancashire moorland.
i’m not sure if i dug quite deep enough, i rode to 4th place, and was pipped by two seconds by carl helliwell to third – i’m almost certain i had at least another few seconds i could have found from somewhere. that’s not to say i didn’t feel happy with the ride, it’s more that i just felt i didn’t quite measure the pace, or does the effort accordingly. still – i felt pleased, riding against the northern hard-men and women for the first time, to come away with a result of sorts.