A few years ago Ben Greenwood did this local hill climb (from Quernmore to the Trough of Bowland) in a time of around 7.23. He said he thought a sub 7 minute ride was possible. So the Lancaster CC organiser, Alistair Hodge, approached a local cycle shop Edge Cycle Works in Lancaster, so if they would sponsor a one off prize for first person to go under 7 minutes. They kindly offered to sponsor £250 for the first person.
My first attempt in 2009 was 7.13, with a strong tailwind. But, in later years, I seemed to slip backwards 7.27 in 2010, and last year 2011 7.38 (into a mean headwind to be fair). I thought sub 7.00 was possible, but getting slower every year is never great for confidence.
Sunday morning was very beautiful, if cold first thing, and thankfully there was hardly a drop of wind. I’ve done a few really tough races on this climb. When it’s windy and wet, it’s tough. But, today was perfect. Sunny, dry (though roads were very wet from recent downpours) and no discernible wind.
Jubilee Tower Hill Climb
- Distance: 1.85 miles;
- height gain: approximately 183m
- Max gradient: 16%
- Average Gradient: 6%
My second track pump of the year broke, so I had to borrow one from another rider. But, apart from that, the warm up was fine. (well actually I was a bit worried to see three nuts come off my rollers. I’m sure they weren’t supposed to do that.)
The day before I’d done two hill climbs (Otley CC) so legs were a little tired this morning. But, once I got racing, you forget previous efforts.
The climb is difficult, because you start on a fairly steep gradient, just after the crossroads. The first half a mile is around a pretty steep hairpin (around 14-16%) After this the road gradually eases off. I try to go as fast as I can on the steep bit, without blowing. When you get away from the steep section, you can increase the speed. I tried to keep the pace high when the variable gradient got temporarily steeper so I was in an out of the saddle quite a bit. At one point on the course there was a cattle grid. I was going pretty flat out at this point, but it was well marshalled and I didn’t lose any momentum. I knew I was on a good ride. It was at that ‘sweat spot’ of riding just at the limit and holding it (the feint taste of blood in the mouth – though I’m told it’s not actually blood). The final section is slightly downhill, I worked up into my biggest gear 53*12 – though I wasn’t spinning a high cadence, just mashing the gears using power rather than style.
As soon as I’d finished someone told me, I’d broken the magic 7 minute barrier to do 6.57 – 16 seconds off my old course record.
1st Lady was Lynn Hamel (Herbalife) in a time of around 8 and half minutes (she was also second overall!)
An interesting point was when signing on, the organiser Alistair told me Jack Puller (Wheelbase.CO.UK/MGD ) had set a time of 6.59 during a club event a few weeks ago. This was very impressive, as I know Jack is good at short distance climbs (an outside chance at the Rake) so to do this kind of time on this climb was very good. In one sense, it was a little pressure to know someone had gone so fast, perhaps it was also a little motivation.
At the fourth attempt, it was very nice to get the course record – especially because there wasn’t a roaring tailwind. I still think, someone can go quicker. Thanks again to Lancaster CC and organisers. And Edge Cycle Works of course!
it’s not always sunny at Jubilee Tower!
Trough of Bowland
It was such as nice day, after race I couldn’t resist going to ride the Trough of Bowland – a great climb.
This chap was working hard to climb the Trough of Bowland.