Ho ho ho.
I entered a hill climb on Friday night. I was supposed to be racing cyclocross on Sunday, but due to a sudden influx of clowns, lions, and juggling acts, it got cancelled.
I’d sort of given up on “racing” in Hill Climbs. I know my limitations. It’s young man’s game. However, I’ve not seen Sam for a long time. He was racing as well, which made me think “I wonder if they’ll still have space?”. A couple of emails later and my entry confirmed, I started the inevitable descent into madness.
There was the panic about getting there. There was the panic about when I’d take my gel. There was the panic over whether the dent in the rim of my normal wheels was ok, or should I swap to the new wheels. There was the panic about punctures, more on those later, there was the panic about sleeping well. There was a lot of energy expended about the emptying of the living room and tidying up so the plasterers could come around.
There was a vague dread.
Saturday arrived and after a morning of ballet and big box diy shops, I put new wheels on my bike. Previously, on a TiK with Jason et al, I “really put ze power down” at the corner of Jackass Lane. The carbon/Ti skewers could not restrain the 9 megwatts coming through the drive train. The wheel jumped out. I popped a spoke and put a dent in the rim, which I only noticed after it had been taken to be trued. So I need to go and have a word about that with the shop. Anyway.
New wheels. These are fairly, by my standard, bling. 20/24 hubs on 30 mm rim. I think they’re sub 1.5 Kg. More on this later.
Bike set up, bit of rub on the front mech when I’m in the big ring and small cogs. BUT LET’S FACE IT EH? I WON’T BE USING THEM AS I GRIND MYSELF INTO THE DUST.
Sunday rolls round, I wake up. I make breakfast, not too much I’m only riding 20 miles and then up a hill. I can eat after. Sam’s off at 9.15. I’m off at 10.15. I’ve been given a 5. I’m 45 out of 65 riders. I’ve not ridden a HC in about a year. I suspect some words passed from Sam to Bigfoot CC.
Riding out on a beautiful Sunday morning with the sun in the sky and a chill in the air, with the countryside slowly waking up and warming up. That all sounds very bucolic, Dvorak, and Hovis. Doesn’t it? Riding out to a hill climb, trying to arrive with enough time to sign on, have a look at the course, see your mate ride, ring a cowbell, pin your numbers on, dump the contents of your pockets somewhere safe, and not kill yourself as you go up and over the ridges to face the mighty Exedown is what it really was. I was still on the Pilgrim’s Way (east) at 9.15. This bothered me slightly, as Sam has cheered me on at Catford, the Bec, an open 10, and possibly a rollapaluza. Because he indulges in the furtive arts of TTing, he starts early, wears space man gear, and is usually in far flung corners of the Kent countryside battling CdA and hoping his watts are on target.
I signed on. Sam’s name wasn’t on the time sheet, and that really worried me. Checking my phone I found out he had a puncture. And his spare had a hole in it. He only lives 8 miles away and, rightly using normal logic, assumed “nah…”.
I called Sam and went to the bottom of the hill. We had a chat. Not only had he punctured but his garmin got run over as welll… I told him I was on a 5 and asked if he had anything to do with that….
Sam and his brother went up the hill. I went for a piss. Coming down the hill I’d had a look at the hill, it’s nothing fearsum. It’s nothing over 15% and it doesn’t rise up to smite you at the end. There are two corners. The first one should be taken wide. It would be a case of pacing myself, rounding the first corner, keeping the pace up, rounding the second, and then pushing hard to the line.
While this may sound like every hill climb ever, it’s not quite the same as when I race Yorks. For me, Yorks is all about keeping it together mentally until the first corner and then throwing everything at it and hoping I’ve got enough and the shouting from the crowd is enough to keep me going.
See. TOTALLY DIFFERENT STRATEGIES.
I went up and down the road a couple of times, I ate some tangfastics (no caffeine gels were at hand) and then went to wait in line. I’m not the best at being held still on a bike, I have the balance of a man with severe inner ear problems. Plus. I have weird things about being controlled and held. I am not talking about my sex life. After not settling in to being held, I asked to be left alone (politely. honestly) and on the 5,4,3,2,1, pushed off and went for it. Perhaps I went for it a little bit too much. I’m not sure.
Better, more erudite, more creative, writers than me have talked about the noise in your head as you perform something really rather crackers. Here you are, riding a bike, on a nice sunny day, fast. As fast as you can handle. UP A HILL. Hoping the metabolic signals your brain is receiving can be ignored, that your conscious effort is sufficient to ignore everything that’s happening. That somehow you can get on top of your breathing, you can keep turning the pedals, that you can check in on everything and think “more? less? what?”, that you can ignore the stupid “stop this!”, that you remember to take the first corner wide (twat), that you can ignore the photographers, that you don’t hang on to the words of the crowd too much (“good pace!”) but that you do take some lift from it but don’t over process it. It’s weird. Because all that happens and you do keep a lid on it all, and your breathing is fucked, and your shift into the big ring isn’t as smooth as you wanted it to be, but you do keep going and you even manage to not fall off at the end (“not trying hard enough”) and just pedal around waiting for your HR to fall below 170 again and your breathing to be deeper.
And then, this is new, someone comes up and asks to take your numbers off. Which, is fucking brilliant to be honest. I can barely think straight and someone is offering to do the simple job for me? You can stick your ice baths, and your instant post ride massage, someone offering a simple human kindness and pointing you in the direction of the coffee van is the pinnacle of amateur sport for me.
I waited around, Sam bought me a coffee. We chatted. Tony turned up. ON A BLINGING Stor(c)k. We had a bit more of a chat.
The big hitters started to come through. A 13 year old boy on his dad’s old fixed Ti enigma rolled up the hill 5 seconds slower than me. It really is getting to that point in my life. He has good genes though. His dad is Peter Tadros. Who rolled up the hill on a 1×10 cannondale supersix evo that tipped the scales at 4.2 Kg apparently. The fixed enigma is approx 5 Kg. If you put Tadros Jr on Tadros Sr’s shoulders, I’m not sure the two of them would be more than 90 Kg.
And I think this is where it’s hard to decide what to be envious about. The amount of training, the determined practice, the insanely light bikes, the ability to source the parts and have the spare cash to get them, and get them past security control without any “new bike parts?” (as happened to me on saturday when my bargain iron cross rims turned up for a wheel build that’s happening slowly and quietly for next year).
I finished 24th out of 57, 5th vet, and 5 seconds faster than a 13 year old. That is sobering.
Here’s the results in a pretty excel chart.
|Time behind leader||Time behind first vet|
|1||James Lowden Neon Velo||02:41.0||00:00.0|
|2||Bill Bell Bigfoot CC||V40+||02:43.0||00:02.0|
|3||Peter Tadros In-Gear Quickvit Trainsharp RT||V40+||02:46.0||00:05.0||00:03.0|
|4||Matthew Burton Velo Club Rutland||02:47.0||00:06.0|
|5||Chris Newberry Bigfoot CC||02:57.0||00:16.0|
|6||Jonathan Harris PMR Racing||02:57.0||00:16.0|
|7||Jacob Nicholson Wigmore RT||02:57.0||00:16.0|
|8||Paul Vine Wigmore CC||V40+||02:57.0||00:16.0||00:14.0|
|9||Robin Parker East Grinstead CC||V40+||03:04.0||00:23.0||00:21.0|
|10||Edward Sutton Panagua.CC||03:05.5||00:24.5|
|11||Daniel Pink Bigfoot CC||03:05.7||00:24.7|
|12||Martin Jones Gemini BC||V40+||03:07.8||00:26.8||00:24.8|
|13||Gareth Thyer Brighton Mitre CC||03:08.6||00:27.6|
|14||Joshua Lawless PMR @ Toachim House||03:08.8||00:27.8|
|15||Jamie Durmush Panagua.CC||03:11.1||00:30.1|
|16||Sonny Parker Old Portlians CC||Y||15-17||03:12.0||00:31.0|
|17||Thomas Hampshire Paceline RT||03:12.0||00:31.0|
|18||Eamonn Prendergast Bigfoot CC||03:13.3||00:32.3|
|19||Edd Sowden Paceline RT||03:18.0||00:37.0|
|20||Barry Stewart Bigfoot CC||03:20.6||00:39.6|
|21||Kev May Bigfoot CC||V40+||03:21.9||00:40.9||00:38.9|
|22||Simon Carter Bigfoot CC||03:25.1||00:44.1|
|23||Tim Jones Penge Cycling Club||03:27.2||00:46.2|
|24||Damian Marlee CS Grupetto||V40+||03:27.5||00:46.5||00:44.5|
|25||James Hawkins Bigfoot CC||03:27.6||00:46.6|
|26||Phil Shemmings Bigfoot CC||V40+||03:28.1||00:47.1||00:45.1|
|27||David Bagley Panagua.CC||03:32.5||00:51.5|
|28||Adam Mumford Medway Velo Club||03:33.8||00:52.8|
|29||Theo Tadros In-Gear Quickvit Trainsharp RT||J||12-14||03:33.9||00:52.9|
|30||John Bell Bigfoot CC||V40+||03:44.9||01:03.9||01:01.9|
|31||Paul Palmer Bigfoot CC||03:45.3||01:04.3|
|32||Alexander Damms Bigfoot CC||Y||15-17||03:46.9||01:05.9|
|33||Erik van Bommel Bigfoot CC||V40+||03:47.4||01:06.4||01:04.4|
|34||Douglas McArthur Glasgow Glenmarnock Wheelers||V40+||03:50.2||01:09.2||01:07.2|
|35||Deborah Percival 34 Nomads CC||VW50+||03:58.9||01:17.9|
|36||Andrew Warren Bigfoot CC||V50+||03:59.5||01:18.5|
|37||Joe Chittock Old Portlians CC||04:02.5||01:21.5|
|38||Joseph Harris Bigfoot CC||J||12-14||04:02.9||01:21.9|
|39||Nick Woodward Pearson Cycling Club||V40+||04:14.9||01:33.9||01:31.9|
|40||Nick Martin East Grinstead CC||Y||15-17||04:15.5||01:34.5|
|41||Aran Grover Bigfoot CC||J||12-14||04:19.1||01:38.1|
|42||Duncan Benfield Bigfoot CC||04:20.1||01:39.1|
|43||Nigel Waterfall Old Portlians CC||V50+||04:26.9||01:45.9|
|44||Lisa May Bigfoot CC||VW40+||04:28.9||01:47.9|
|45||David Pitman Bigfoot CC||V40+||04:36.4||01:55.4||01:53.4|
|46||Trevor Willis Bigfoot CC||V50+||04:44.9||02:03.9|
|47||Samuel Ward Bigfoot CC||J||12-14||04:58.5||02:17.5|
|48||Emma Snowdon Bigfoot CC||VW40+||05:00.3||02:19.3|
|49||Lisa Ketteringham Bigfoot CC||W||05:02.4||02:21.4|
|50||Greg Finn Bigfoot CC||V50+||05:10.1||02:29.1|
|51||Andy Ivy Bigfoot CC||V50+||05:13.6||02:32.6|
|52||Karen Cleverly Bigfoot CC||VW40+||05:20.2||02:39.2|
|53||Richard Hudson Bigfoot CC||V50+||05:20.3||02:39.3|
|54||Howard Binysh Bigfoot CC||V50+||05:20.8||02:39.8|
|55||Oktawia Szmigielska Bigfoot||CC||W||05:26.8||02:45.8|
|56||Sanjay Grover Bigfoot CC||V40+||05:26.9||02:45.9||02:43.9|
|57||Ian Hudson Bigfoot CC||J||12-14||05:59.1||03:18.1|
And here’s some “suffering”.