Tuesday 13 October 2020

Photo of the day - 13: The pain of hill climbs

Grinding up Steyning Bostal at the Hill Climb (photo: Dave Hayward)

This was me struggling up Steyning Bostal, on the South Downs during last weekend's hill climb. I had only had time to reccie two thirds of the 0.9-mile route, but I had an idea of what to expect. Setting off I pushed as hard as I could on the early steeper section of the climb, making an effort out of the saddle. As the middle section was less steep I continued to push a hard gear though with a higher cadence, while in the saddle. Then when the final section steepened again, I had that slightly anxious moment where I thought "Help, I am fast running out of gas here; how will I get up that last 12% gradient??" At that moment I just ground away with my head down. I didn't want to see the road as that would have freaked me out, so I focused purely on turning my legs. Then my breakfast was wanting to repeat itself on me. No, I must not vomit. I could hear the few spectators [in low numbers due to Covid restrictions] cheering and encouraging me, but I couldn't acknowledge them as I was concentrating on hanging in there. Breathing really hard, sweating, dribbling, full of snot, my bike weaved all over the road as I was willing the finish line to come soon. Then at last, as the the gradient seemed to lessen a little, I made a final effort out of the saddle to the chequered flag. Finally, the pain was over and I heaved a massive sigh, spinning my achy legs, and feeling gaga while trying to get my breath back.

That had felt like a Herculean show of force from me, though looking up my result on the Cycling Time Trials website today the result shows that I came second last! In the other hill climb I did that afternoon on Mill Hill, near Shoreham-by-Sea I came last and was a full minute behind the second-last placed rider. So it goes to show, you may be in pain and giving it beans, but at the end of the day the hill climb just slaps down my effort and puts you in your place. One light at the end of the tunnel is my future results can only go in one direction! Funnily enough, there's something slightly addictive about these quirky kinds of races that makes me want to do more! In fact more hill climbs are on the calendar, so I look forward to doing it all again. I'm just a glutton for pain!  

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