The Cat & Fiddle is on the of the longest climbs in England. It averages 3% over 10 km, including some sections of downhill.
Cat & Fiddle Hill Climb
- Distance: 6.6 miles
- Height Gain: 335 metres
- Average Gradient: 3.2%
- Max Gradient: 8%
- Maximum altitude: 520 metres
- CR: 18.14 (2013) – 22mph)
Last year I did the climb for the first time in a time of 21.02. But, last year, the weather was tough – a headwind and cold. Today, was about as good as it gets in September. Warm, and most importantly a nice gentle tailwind. It can be wild up in this part of the world, but the trees were barely moving, you had to pinch yourself the hill climb season is getting well underway.
Photo courtesy: 5th place Bhima Bowden (Buxton CC) – 14 photos combined into one!. I think it’s a really great photo, if only slightly disconcerting to see 14 images of yourself!
The day before the race (Sat), was the Sri Chinmoy 24 hour race at Tooting Bec. I usually turn up to count runners for the first 10 hours, before sloping off to get some kip before my race on Sunday. It might sound boring counting runners for 10 hours, but in a strange way I kind of really enjoy it. I stayed long enough to see Geoff Oliver set a new world record for 50km in the age group 80-85 (about 7 hours, if memory serves me right) Something to aspire to. Though I’m not sure I’ll still be doing hill climbs when I’m 80…. (though Peter Greenwood with new Vet 60 record of 20.26 is worth an honourable mention)
In Macclesfield I was warming up on the rollers, and was soon working up a sweat in the balmy heat of Lancashire’s Indian Summer. I had to towel myself down to get rid of sweat before heading over to the start.
The start of the climb is the hardest and steepest part. The sign says 10%, but I don’t believe that – more like 8%. For the first couple of miles, I was pretty close to the limit, and worried I might be going too hard. Then about half way up, you start to get the first downhill and flattish sections. At this point I was tucking down into time trial bike and hoping for as much free energy as possible. One of the challenges of the Cat & Fiddle hill climb, is that there are some quite sharp corners which you can approach at quite a speed. I seemed to be on and off the tribars quite a bit. It might have been possible to shave a few more seconds here and there. But, the A 537 is a busy road, and I wasn’t going to start cutting any corners.
I felt the power dissipate a little over the last half, kind of grateful for the gentle tailwind giving a little push to the finish. After last year’s effort into a roaring headwind, this felt fast. But, I had no idea of my time (my garmin having no power source)
Guessing Power – Power meter teaches how to gauge effort better
One interesting thing about using a power meter, is that you become much better at guessing how much power you are putting out (even when you don’t use it). Before, I used to judge my effort on speed. But, with a power meter you learn that often on a hill as your speed increases, your power reduces. Speed can be very misleading to the effort you put in.
It was a guess, but I felt I was using less power over last half of the climb. But, I think I judged it OK. The steepest section is the most important place to give a big effort as long as you don’t blow up and can keep going.
TT bike v Road Bike
I opted for a time trial bike. Though remain completely uncertain whether it offered any benefit / loss over road bike. My TT bike is definitely heavier, but would have helped on the downhill. Next time there is a tailwind, I might try with road bike with clip on tribars. One thing is I quite like the TT position because I spend a lot of time on the TT bike.
New Course Records
It was funny going down the hill my mind started to think – maybe it was slow. Maybe the time was no good. I got annoyed with these thoughts so got rid of them by concentrating on something else. It was only back at the HQ I found I’d set a new course record – 18.16 – 14 seconds off Mark Lovatt’s old course record of 18.30 in 2004. 2nd was Lee Baldwin (Buxton CC) with an 18.58. Adam Kenway was just pipped to 3rd with 19.02. Ben Gillespie 4th and Bhima Bowden 5th
It was also a new course record for the women. Joanne Blakely (Champion Systems – Maxgear) set the fastest time. She just pipped Vanessa Whitfield (Velo Club St Raphael) But, no fewer than 4 ladies went under the old course record time! It was strong competition all-round.
There was a full field of 150 plus reserves, with some good times. Thanks to Weaver Valley CC for putting on event!
I haven’t seen any results online yet, these are a few photos of results board.
Some photos here.
When you’ve had a bit of a freewheel down
After Race – Mow Cop
After the race I went to check out Mow Cop on time trial bike (though suffice to say I won’t be using Time trial bike in the upcoming hill climb!_