Last night Bristol was temporarily transformed, shedding its usual mantle as the regional centre for stags and hens and welsh people drinking, to become the location for a particularly exciting hillclimb thing organised by the demented people at red bull and charge bikes. it clearly caused confusion amongst the usual visitors, one giddily drunk welshman asked me in a fairly straightforward fashion, ‘where’s the scummiest, nastiest and cheapest place to get a drink in this town?’, i directed him to the hatchet, location of an 18th century rat pit (very little has changed) where the door is reputedly made with human skin.
the hill chasers is a hill climb of sorts. they narrowed park street and stuck in some chicanes, then shortened the ascent so that it took around 20 seconds. this makes it very exciting and also pretty deadly, although those two things might be symbiotic. i’m surprised there weren’t more crashes than the one nasty wallop i saw between Glynn Griffiths and Rob Gough – incidentally first and second at this year’s Catford Hillclimb. It was a case of the oldest continuously run cycling race in the country meets one of the newest, with a tangling of metal and limbs. both escaped relatively unscathed.
There were some classy riders on the start line; Charles Metcalf, last year’s winner, and Ted King who rides for Liquigas, being two who stood out amidst a sea of ‘urbanfixiecrossmtb’ riders from either the red bull or charge sponsorship stable. the winner in the end was Ben Simmons. Ted King got royally thrashed by Charles.
The course was nasty; if you were behind from the start it was very very difficult to get back on terms – hence Glynn and Rob’s crash. A lot more riders seemed to sit up in the last 20 metres compared to last year. I’d like to have seen a further 40 metres or more just to allow for the explosive efforts of some of the fast starters to be tempered by those pacing it a bit better, or those stuck behind through the double chicanes to come through. As it stood it was pretty much a full-on sprint for 20 seconds. power to weight wasn’t the issue. The road bikers won from the people on other bicycle shaped things, confirming what everyone knew already: road bikes are fastest.
it was a great event and a real spectacle to see Park Street given over to a bike race for one evening. There was an impressively big crowd, and i’d venture to suggest that a significant proportion of them weren’t what you might classify as ‘cyclists’, although all mine and belle’s geeky cycling friends were in attendance. Maybe one day i’ll ride it. Maybe next year, we’ll see. Depends if they lengthen the course or not…