In the past few years I’ve become a bit of a regular at Buxton CC’s Long Hill climb. I like the atmosphere, and in a way I like the climb. Despite racing the hill 4 times, I’ve never been able to match my time from 2010 when I set a course record of 12.26. It must have beginner’s luck – that or a roaring tailwind to push me up the climb. At this time of the season, I regularly watch weather forecasts – not so much for sun v rain, but primarily for the wind direction, I try and will the wind around to be a tailwind for any hill climb. But, the wind Gods do their own thing, they must have more important things than course records for hill climbs.
But, despite a headwind, it was another beautiful September day. The view from the top of Long Hill is really quite spectacular. I always think Long Hill is one of the best descents in the country. You get such a good view, especially from the top. It’s a nice long 3% decline, only spoiled by perhaps a few more cars than you would like. As a hill climb, it’s firmly in the long time trial variety. Little variation in gradient, just a fairly steady 3% all the way to the top. More on Long Hill here.
Long Hill is one of those climb where you can spend ages trying to work out which is best equipment to use. Road bike with tribars vs time trial bike e.t.c. I’m now fairly convinced that into a headwind – a time trial bike is quicker. But, I’m getting attached to my power meter on my road bike and wanted to know my average power for the race. But, in the end, I decided you don’t get any trophies for power readings, only your time. So I just took my time trial bike. At least I didn’t waste any time in the race reading my Garmin.
We were sharing the HQ with the relatively more sedate world of crown green bowls. When you go to races, it is always interesting to see how other people are spending their Sunday mornings – car boot sales, bowls – all a little more gentle on the legs than racing up a hill. I was only dissappointed not to see more flat caps at the bowls tournament. This is the north of England, but whippets and flat caps weren’t as common as legend would have you believe.
Anyway, away from the stately world of crown green bowls, I was warming up on the B road by Whaley Bridge. I then spent a few minutes on the rollers before heading over to the start line. It was quite warm and the lower part of the course felt quite fast. But, half way up, the shelter from the trees seemed to disappear. For one section, there was a considerable headwind which slowed down my speed. The last mile is a big horseshoe shape. Finally, there was a bit of tailwind and you remember how much difference it makes. Then you swing around back into the wind for the last effort to the line.
It was a fairly measured effort. I don’t think you can do a 4 mile climb any other way. The finish timekeeper later said, many other riders were dying as they finished the hill, but I looked as if I wasn’t making much effort. Looks can be deceiving! But, I was worried I didn’t quite get everything out. But, then I often think that on Long Hill.
My time was 13.13.0. Since 13 is my luck number, that was a cool time for the 2013 event. It’s always hard to compare years, but I think it was a relatively good time, on not the easiest day.
Back at the HQ I found I had finished 1st, ahead of an improving Adam Kenway (13.41) Team Zenith-www.buzzcycles.co.uk. For my first place, I achieved a lifelong dream to be awarded a King of the Mountains jersey, and also a trophy, a homemade cake (made by Lou Clark, despite giving birth this week, Congratulations!) – I even got an unofficial go on a mini bicycle designed for 3 year old George Clark (future Buxton CC star)
After polishing off a few more homemade flapjacks, I stuffed the prizes under my jersey went back to my car and then headed off for a bit of a ride. I didn’t feel like doing too much on my time trial bike, so I just went up to Eccles Pike, then to Peaslows and over to the top of Rushup Edge, near Winnats pass.
Thanks to Bhima Bowden for all the photos, and as usual to all the people at Buxton CC for putting on event.
Results on Long HIll
- 2010 – 1st place. 12.26
- 2011 – 1st place 13.49
- 2011 – National – 5th – 13.02. (Winner Gunnar Gronlund 12.49)
- 2012 – 1st place – 13.35
- 2013 – 1st place – 13.13