Bowden and Claverton

I tried a new climb yesterday, the Chippenham and District Wheelers promotion on Bowden Hill. It starts on the film set of Harry Potter before climbing up through an episode of Cranford, then finishes at the top by the granite and wrought-iron gates of Northanger Abbey. Such are the delights of the beyond picturesque village of Lacock. I’ve heard tell that the whole village is owned by the National Trust – in the traditional sense of the word, rather than ‘you just got pwned by the NT, all your heritage buildings are belong to them.’ Either way, it all sounds a bit Midwich Cuckooey.

The climb is a real challenge; it starts off with a few hundred metres of shallow and fast ascent before rearing up like a frightened donkey; scaring the bejeezus out of the cyclists who moments ago were enjoying a nice rhythm and cadence. I gave it full gas all the way up. I did my usual trick of trying to find a bit to sit down but the climb had other ideas. It hurt quite a lot. I managed 4th place behind the resurgent VC Walcot outfit.

Today i dusted off the fixed wheel for the first time this year to have a go at the VC Walcot event on Claverton Hill. It’s one of my favourite races because it’s really well-supported; the crowd form a bit of a tunnel and make huge amounts of noise. This all takes place by the entrance to the American Museum. At one point a blazered chump came out on some sort of golf trolley to berate us for blocking the driveway and preventing cars from accessing the Museum. He threatened to call the police. I think he must have confused us with people who actually gave a shit about his no-mark museum. I think he also underestimated the amount of bureaucratic organisation required to set up a hill climb, including police permission. He got pwned.

I cheered on most of the riders; generally trying to shout at people and take pictures at the same time. Watching hill climbs is infinitely more enjoyable than riding them. After about 30 minutes I hotfooted it down to the bottom, turned round and charged back up again. It was good to be on fixed, no choice, no issues, no options, just me and a 57″ gear. I suspect it might be faster on gears, but that would spoil the fun of riding fixed. In the end, Rob Gough took the win from a rapid Charles Coleman, currently in the form of his life. Glyn, Richard Cartland and few others scrapped it out for the minor placings and I think I came 7th, a couple of seconds quicker than last year. I won a nice t-shirt and £10 for my efforts.

Hats off to Laurie Chalk and John Arnold of VC Walcot for creating a brilliant event, publicising it relentlessly and making sure the club turns out to watch. VC Walcot are a bit of a galvanising force, they have been involved in the Odd Down Circuit and do great things in getting young people riding and racing bicycles. For this they have my utmost respect.

Some innovative road art
A rider from the host club
Richard Cartland in full flow
Glyn goes into debt. He collapsed at the top. We laughed at him a little bit.


I got quite close to take this picture.

The Bath University CC put together a super video of the event:

Next weekend is a bit of a break; most people are heading to Catford, I’ll be staying here and doing a few different things, mainly trying to hone my form for Burrington the week after.



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