Last weekend I headed to Bath to take part in VC Walcot’s hill climb on Claverton Hill. This was the venue of my first ever hill climb two years ago – not a very long time ago, I’m still fairly new to this form of racing so was hoping to beat my previous time of 2 minutes and 46 seconds.
I rode out to the hill and arrived in time for a recce / reminder of the climb. My typical warm up this season involves riding for around one hour to the event, signing on and then riding up the climb at about 80 – 90% effort. Hard enough to feel where it gets tough – mostly where the gradient changes, but not so hard as to lose an edge before the race.
My race went well. After an initial 30 seconds of relatively easy gradient, the road pitches to around 15% for the next 30 seconds. From my recce I’d decided to try and pace myself sensibly through this, staying in the saddle. The rest of the climb is at around 10 – 12% so my tactic was to then really attack this part, out of the saddle.
One of the best features of this event is the large crowds it draws. It’s right beside Bath University so lots of the students come to race and support. The final few hundred metres are a baying mob of noisy supporters, shouting, ringing bells and banging pots and pans. It all passes in a chaotic, asphyxiated blur. But the anticipation and then sensation of the atmosphere is a great experience.
I crossed the line with the satisfaction of having given it everything. I even gave the ‘Catcher’ some work to do – without him I might have just fallen off my bike into the ditch! I beat my time from 2 years ago by 16 seconds for a time of 2:30.
After finishing I headed back down to catch up with friends and to add to the noise. After you race, you shout in someone’s face!