I can’t be the first person to point out the irony between atrophy and a trophy, linguistically similar and yet physically so far apart. I guess it’s similar to a therapist, if you artificially divide it. Atrophy has been the experience of the weekend. I rode the Exeter Wheelers hill climb on Stoke Hill. It was a super event, and very much in keeping with the trend towards better organisation and prizes. Who would have thunk that if you organise things properly, use publicity and offer a big prize fund you get a whopping field, including the current reigning hill climb champions, Dan Evans and Maryka Semmena.

Having not ridden competitively since October last year, I approached the event with a degree of trepidation. I rode conservatively and came in a long way down the field. There is no surprise in this, although there is a degree of dented pride to be so far adrift of the top ten. I have been wrestling with a medieval lurgy for the past two weeks which didn’t help matters; I spent about 40 minutes post-race trying to eject my lungs from my body in a furious coughing fit which put the kibosh on further humiliation at Porlock today. Despite all of the above, it was a fun day out.

Borek gets fresh with Dan Evans’ weapon.

Earlier on in the week I made a whistle-stop visit to Rapha HQ in London’s famous London to unleash another hill climb talk. It was well-received, with the possible exception of a injudicious aside whereupon I implied that the Tom Simpson ‘Simpsonissimo’ jersey costs £600, at which point one of the men in black came hurtling out of the Citroën H Van which doubles up as their office and made it clear that the talk was ‘on thin ice now’. Jokes about Rapha go down better in Manchester Rapha than they do in London Rapha. I managed to stumble on and reverse a bit and get things back on track in front of a silent and vaguely alarmed audience. It was all smiles afterwards, apparently the men in black were joking as well. For the audience it all got a bit Tommy Cooper. It’s worth noting that I am incredibly grateful to Rapha for providing the venue and support for the talk and book, especially Jess who has been amazing. Sometimes these things need to be spelled out.

Next up on the epic world tour is Beeline Cycles in Oxford, Monday 28 September. This will be a double header with Tejvan Pettinger and it’s probably the last talk for quite a while. I think everyone has heard enough about hill climbs.

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