With only six days to go before I take part in (I was going to say compete in, but that might be pushing it a bit) the national hill climb championship I thought I better go up to Matlock and pre ride the course.
So after a 2 hour drive I parked up and road my standard road bike around to find the start. I parked a couple of miles before Matlock so this acted as a decent warm up.
The climb of bank road turned out to be very similar to my local hill climb course of Ankerdine. The gradient and distance are about the same, although the road surface is much much better up Bank road.
Bank road starts as it continues, on a hill! Mentally it's quite a tough hill too. It's very straight for about three quarters of its distance so it will be best not to focus too far up the hill as it will seem like you're getting nowhere.
It's about 14% gradient average and has a maximum of about 20%...
My plan is to start sitting down, and to stay down for as long as I can. For me the hill is just that bit too long to sprint, standing up all the way. Although I'm not going to be winning anything myself, it's fair to say nobody has ever won a hill climb in the first 100 yards, although I'm sure somebody will have gone out to fast and lost one in the first 100 yards..
I aim to stay sitting down for about 30 - 50 seconds. This doesn't sound like much but the hill is so steep that once you have got out of the saddle you are going to have to stay there and the steepest section is about two thirds of the way up, so you have got to be able to stay out of the saddle to get over this part.
The only corner comes after about three quarters distance and is one of the steepest sections, by this time it's really just about survival, but once round the corner the last 50yards or so are a little flatter than the rest of the hill, so I'll probably sit down for a very short while before giving it everything when the finishing line is in sight. When I say in sight, that's assuming I can still see at that point... Hill climbing at maximum effort does strange things to your body..
The photo is a graph comparing the two hills, ankerdine is the slightly longer line. The other photo is of me on my hill climb bike, on my way up Ankerdine in the clubs hill climb a few weeks ago.
After riding up Bank road on my standard bike I returned to the car and changed over to the fixed gear bike. After a slow ride to the bottom of the hill I started my stop watch and started to suffer.. I did the climb in about 3 mins 50 seconds. I was trying quite hard but held a bit back for the big day. The last 100 yards or so I sat down and just rode to the top, and I would think on the day I may be able to go 20 seconds or so faster.
That's going to keep me from finishing last, but I'll be nowhere near the top. A time of about 2 mins 30 seconds will win it... I might just get into the top 100, which I'd be happy with.
So I now have no excuses, I have a light bike, I know the course, and my gearing felt about right at 39 / 20 (51.8"). Talking of gearing, Matt Clinton said, on the cycling weekly web site, that he thought he would be using 42 / 20 (55.8"). I think I could just about turn that over on the last section that is a bit flatter, but I'd really struggle on the steeper parts. That's probably why he is the favourite and I'm just one of the many making the numbers up!
People who I'll be cheering on.. (if I'm able to / not warming up etc)
No. 39 Adrian Bird. past member of Worcester st Johns cc. now rides for a local bike shop, echelon... where most of my bike stuff comes from. http://www.echelon-cycles.co.uk/index.shtml
No. 125 Tejvan Pettinger. Fellow cycling blogger. http://cyclinginfo.co.uk/blog/
No. 126 Alexandra Zebedee. If your knee holds out that is..
No. 135 Jim Henderson. Hill climbing legend! http://website.lineone.net/~jim.henderson/cycling/hc/hc.html
And everyone else mad enough to take on a hill climb!