Haytor Vale, Mamhead Hill Climbs

things really kicked off in anger this week. with all the forethought of a drunk attempting a series of impossibly ambitious dance moves, i took on a two double-headers in as many days. that’s four hillclimbs in pretty much 24 hours. yet again, hubris bites me on the ass. what the heck, it’s one of the problems with hillclimb season, there’s way too many events to choose from,  and the season is too short.

so, to haytor… which i rode last year. it’s an epic climb up the side of dartmoor, cresting out by the granite outcrop. i like it, but it’s incessantly technical, with several changes of gradient, including one section of downhill near the top. i started well, but a gathering headwind dented my time. the last section ramps up twice in swift succession and is unquestionably the hardest bit, i was all but cooked by then. in the video below you can see the peloton in the ToB round the downhill section at high speed, before suffering on the wall ahead.

i was slower than last year, which was disappointing, but managed 3rd place. Tavis Walker won with 13.58, James Dobbin was second in 14. 10 and i was 3rd in 14. 35. i managed to disrupt a potential Adeo Cadence 1-2-3-4, which was mildly satisfying. everyone was slower than last year, except Tavis, who has come out of nowhere to become a genuine title contender for the nationals in 4 weeks.

The second climb of the day was Mamhead, a much less extreme and more consistent ascent out of Starcross, lasting 2 minutes at around 6-7%. it was just the kind of gradient that holds you in limbo between the big and small ring. the course record is held by Colin Lewis, at 8.43. I managed 9.30. Colin Lewis is a bit of a local hero and inspiration to the Mid-Devon Cycling Club, as well as the wider fraternity of the wheel. I was quite surprised to see him on photo duty half way up, it’s a minor claim to fame, Colin Lewis took my photo… In the end i was second behind James Dobbin. Not hugely far behind. this gave me second on aggregate time. Maybe next year i’ll get under 14 minutes on haytor. i shall live in hope. i think i just about covered my petrol costs with the prize money.

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