Finding form, like Samson

Some cyclists are superstitious about odd things. Lance Armstrong wouldn’t shave the night before a race, due to the energy required to regrow the hair, apparently.

my hair is currently getting long, although it’s not really long, i’ve not suddenly become some goddamn longhair hippy hipster mulleteer, but it is in need of a cut. my sideburns are getting unruly, inching down my face day by day. i had planned to get it cut along with the beard once the hillclimb season came around, but it’s one of those things, the longer i leave it the more i think i may as well leave it until the last race, thus avoiding any samsonite style catastrophes.

tomorrow is the penultimate race of the season, the beastly Nick O’ Pendle, with it’s varied and horribly steep gradients. it’s been the scene of the national on more than one occasion, and i’m sure will return again.

Boardman and Curran on the Nick
Steve Joughin goes into serious debt on the Nick in 1980, equalling the course record

I’m a bit nervous about the whole thing, but looking forward to it. i warmed up today at the Nelson Wheelers climb on Barley Moor. Strangely enough i just happened to take my girlfriend up north and met my mum when two hillclimbs just happened to be occuring in the near vicinity, for the second year running! imagine! what are the chances!

Mike Cuming

interestingly, last year i remember feeling disappointed that i hadn’t ridden hard enough, not really dug deep. this is confirmed by the blog. this year i was determined to make amends, and whatever happened to just make sure I really pushed the pace and hurt myself. i succeeded in this respect, blasted out of the gate and hit the lower slopes really hard, so much so that half way up i began to have doubts about whether i could sustain the effort. this is what happens on shorter climbs, where it’s about pain management. i tried to ignore the lactic and the climb was over almost before it seemed to have really got started. there were 4 other riders on the startsheet who had beaten me before, including raleigh/orbea rider Mike Cuming, National Bronze Medallist Ian Stott, and Carl Helliwell, the latter two being part of a very strong Blackburn District CTC outfit who have one the national team prize on previous occasions.


I managed a 3.42 for the climb, compared to a 4.24 last year, this is at least in part due to a bit of a gift tailwind (fingers crossed for tomorrow). This put me inside the course record by around 18 seconds. In effect, i held the course record for about 2 minutes, the time it took for Mike Cuming to make it up in 3.30. I took second, beating everyone else. i was surprised and pleased as punch to beat a real quality field, and be within shouting distance of Mike who has been riding in europe with the professional Orbea 20 road team.

it was a great day, but it really hurt, and by really hurt, i mean stabbing lung pain and sprinter’s cough, sore legs, sore chest, the lot. in fact, it was the most hurt i’ve had this year. maybe tomorrow after the Nick i’ll have to reassess this.

two more races to go.

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