uphill/downhill

bristol south have a number of trophies on offer over the course of the season. i’ve won the hillclimb and hardriders cups this year – which i am really pleased about. can’t beat a bit of silverware in the cupboard in this day and age. it’s a bit alarming that the cups are so old and shiny – the hillclimb trophy in particular was donated by the Wills family in 1923; it feels quite precious.

almost the last pot to be awarded is the ‘uphill downhill’ – or david hill trophy. it’s awarded for a cumulative points score over a short hillclimb, followed by a freewheel distance event back down the same course. in theory, this evens things out between the borderline-manorexic mountain goats and the fatty-boom-boom power merchants. i came along because i am no longer racing and wanted to do the clubrun; to ride out to a garden centre somewhere in the middle of nowhere and eat carrot-cake whilst wearing lycra and neoprene booties, startling the sunday shoppers looking for mulch; to talk about winter riding, tyre diameters, and whether robert millar really did ride through the dark months with a 20mm tubular inside of a 23mm high-pressure clincher. he did, according to dan.

i signed up for a laugh, riding my heavy steel raleigh quadra amidst a sea of modular woven carbon fibre. the hill hurt, i felt a bit yucky, but went for it anyway. halfway up i got a puncture – not a sudden, catastophic decompression, more a sort of catherine-wheel of fizzing, fishy tyre air. i got out of the saddle, leant forward to take my weight off the back wheel and stamped on the pedals in an attempt to get to the top before the tyre expired beneath me. it seemed to work, by the time i’d crossed the line i had about 20psi left, which was just enough.

i had to walk down again, thus forgoing the freewheeling excitement. as it happened, i won the uphill bit, by quite a few seconds, but came predictably last in the downhill. andy won the trophy, the 6th time he’s done so. he’s the club captain, and comes from one of the club’s dynastic families. it was a brilliant morning’s fun in the filthy lanes.

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