as a part of bristol cycling festival i thought this looked like a good idea, and worth a punt:
I was attracted by the words ‘a proper hillclimb up a proper hill’. less enamoured by the phrase ‘climb the fearsome local hill from all four sides’, but what the heck, I signed up for a slice of masochistic horridness. it’s not really like me to do a sportive, not that i consider them beneath me, but like mountain bikes, morris dancing and incest, they’re not really my thing.
this one seemed more like a linked series of 4 hillclimbs, so i put aside my reservations in the name of ‘bristol cycle festival’ and joined my fellow nodders cycling comrades in a savage celebration of all things bike.
in truth, it was more than a bit unpleasant. it’s essentially a 25 mile trial. easy peasy. apart from the 3000 feet of climbing. even then, it’s a bit of a blast, and with a some luck on the descents shouldn’t be too much bother. all of this was rapidly undone: in a fit of masochistic manliness i opted to ride it on fixed wheel. i geared down to around a 62″. this was intended to give me something – anything – to play with on the descents, whilst allowing me to ride up the climbs without coming to a standstill.
i smoked the first climb, dropped everyone (it wasn’t a race) and then just twiddled the gear on the descent and waited for everyone to come past. it was quite funny. 3 people came past, then i got on with my ride, in sort of sillitoe-esque pained solitude. a couple of other people caught me later on, i guess i finished somewhere around 7th.
where others were charging down limeburn hill at around 40mph, i maxed out at about 22mph, and that was way too fast, my hips and legs were swivelling and spinning like a teenage Mod dancing at the wigan casino on a fistful of purple hearts. i wrestled with the bike, the gradient, and the contact point where rider meets saddle. going up was also uncompromising, the hills were steep and long, with one particular ascent sticking in the mind; surprisingly it was one i hadn’t tackled before. it comes up the east of the escarpment, narrows considerably and kicks to around 20%. this made it tough. it was rendered almost impossible by the wet, muddy road surface which reduced traction considerably. i had to stand up in order to turn the pedals, but couldn’t do so because the rear wheel spun out alarmingly. in the end i sat down and forced the gear over, probably at about 10rpm. it was sheer brute force and leg strength that got me up without bailing out.
the organiser also managed to squeeze in chew hill, a steep and nasty brute that isn’t a part of dundry at all. cheeky. still, it was good to nail it on fixed. a few chums were there, along with a some clubmates. Glyn and Neil, who rode at yesterday’s Swindon Hillclimb, rode off the front once they’d caught me on the first descent proper, but were awe-struck by my choice of machine. i think they were also awe-struck at my rank stupidity and the hubris of the whole endeavour, but i’ll settle for either.
it was a great training ride, and i won some coffee – a whole tub of special coffee from mud-dock. i had a choice of prizes (everyone got a prize, but the earlier you finished the better the better the choice of prize), but went for the arabica. i may even do the loop again this week, but on gears, i don’t particularly fancy dealing with the ensuing double hernia should i try to repeat today’s foolhardy adventure.
in other news, yesterday’s double hillclimb at swindon was ok. it wasn’t amazing. i thought i might be quicker than i actually was. pete tadros royally put everyone to the sword on the long climb, nearly a minute up on my time. i think i was sixth, less than 5 seconds behind rob gough (it wasn’t a distance that suited him, but i’ll settle for that) with around 9 minutes and 30. it was long and shallow. on the shorter one i did less well, and was probably beaten before i started. i should have been more aggressive and less of a wuss. instead i started in the small ring and tried to manage the pain on the way up. it takes a few events to get into the uncompromising hillclimb mindset. i should have it down by the end of next weekend – i’ve got 2 double stages. that’s four hillclimbs. rank idiocy.