Hill climb season

Club member Katie Miles provides us with a great insight into the world of hill climbs ahead of Ystwyth CC’s hill climb event on Sunday.

“Every time I’m at the start line for a hill climb, I find myself wondering the same thing:

“Why am I doing this again?!”

To make the anticipation worse, this year I’ve found myself racing up hills I’d never even been up before – you can study the elevation profile as much as you like, but you’ll never really know quite how nasty the hill is until you’re on it.

Then, before you know it, your number is called, you’re on the start line being counted down, and you’re off for 5–10 minutes of excruciating pain. Marginal gains won’t make a huge difference here – it’s all down to your legs how quickly you make it up that hill – which makes getting to the top so much sweeter.

As you come towards the end of the climb, powered on by the cowbells ringing and friends cheering (because the support at hill climbs is always fantastic!), you no longer care what you look like for the photographers lining the route. But as you collapse at the top of the hill, wondering if your legs and lungs will ever stop burning, you start to realise it wasn’t quite so bad after all. By the time you’re told your time, you feel so elated you think you could even do it all again (but believe me, your legs will disagree).

There’s one hill climb left for me this year – CBY/YCC’s Llangorwen/Clarach hill climb tomorrow morning. Most local clubs will run at least one hill climb as part of their summer TT series. We’re extremely privileged that Henry’s first-claim club, Barrow Central Wheelers in south Cumbria, run a whole hill climb series through August and September. We’ve managed three this year, and I even managed to get myself onto the (virtual) podium for one or two – a real surprise when these events are attended by semi-professional riders from across Cumbria and Yorkshire. There are Facebook pages dedicated to advertising club hill climbs across the UK, and if you’re really serious, there’s always the National Hill Climb Championships.

So don’t knock hill climbing until you’ve tried it – because you will surprise yourself.”