Saturday 30 October 2021

Winning on Winnats (Part 8): Monica Greenwood, Tracy Gregory and Wendy Mathie on the National Hill Climb Championships

The final athletes we are hearing from on the eve of the National Hill Climb Championships are an experienced racer and a couple of newbies.

Monica Greenwood and Tracy Gregory are both relatively local to Winnats Pass, being based respectively in the Macclesfield and in Buxton areas. Where Monica is last year's bronze medallist and an expert racer, Tracy is a new racer, keen to challenge herself on one of her local hills and just have a go - much the same as Wendy Mathie. Wendy is from my local area in South London, and Winnats Pass will cap what has been an exciting year for her, full of new sporting challenges.

Monica Greenwood (Macclesfield Wheelers)

The first time I rode up Winnats I was 15 years old and I think I may have cried because it was so hard, so it will be brutal for sure. For me it's the second to last climb home when doing rides around that way, so your legs are always broken by the time you get to the cattle grid. It will be nice to only have to start from there for a change! The women's field is super strong and I'm excited to see who will take the honours this year. I expect it to be between Bithja [Jones], Mary [Wilkinson], Rebecca [Richardson] and Illi [Gardner]. Jo Blackburn will be right up there too. They are all amazing, so it should be a great race.

This season my biggest challenge has been to fit riding in alongside work. I started a new role as women's endurance coach for the GB cycling team after last year's hill climb so I have had blocks of time off the bike for the Olympics, European and World championships. The Olympics was the longest I've had off the bike for a long time. I spent August spinning but managed to get some good work in and get what I would say was my best result of the season, with fourth place at the Curlew Cup National series in September. 

In terms of hill climbs I haven't been able to do any open hill climbs, as the last few weeks (I entered a few then work plans intervened) I have been in Switzerland and France working at the major track competitions. I just managed to slot in the Lincoln Hill Dash in the few days back home and took the win. That one-minute climb suited me as I'm built for the short punchy climbs - anything around 3mins and under. So I expect Winnats Pass will be too long and too steep for me.

Luckily my club, Macclesfield Wheelers ran a summer hill climb series so I rode as many of those as I could around work.  I'm not expecting anything on Sunday as the efforts I've done in anger since getting back on Monday from the World Track Championships in Roubaix have been below par. However, I felt the same prior to the Lincoln Hill Dash, so maybe something will return – you never know! I'm just going to soak up racing on an epic climb which is only over the hill from where I live, so there should be lots of local support out.

[Monica sets off from the cattle grid near Speedwell Cavern at 10.29am on Sunday 31st October] 


Tracy Gregory (Buxton CC/Sett Valley Cycles)

I only started cycling late in life and am doing it increasingly more each year.  This is the first year that I have done any hill climb events.  I enjoy the challenge of pushing myself to try and make it to the top of the hill! I couldn't pass up the opportunity of taking part in the National Hill Climbing Championship and riding up the iconic Winnats Pass.  

I am only slow, but I don't care - it's the personal challenge and satisfaction of achieving something so difficult.  I hope that I inspire more women to take part in events.  

Don't listen to the people who tell you that you shouldn't do something because you are too slow, too old, not good enough, etc.  If you want to do something, go ahead and do it for yourself.  Ignore the others!  

If I make it up Winnats Pass on Sunday, I'll be ecstatic.  If I'm last, who cares?  I'll have taken part and achieved something.  To all those who say "Why?", I say "Why not?"!

[Tracy sets off from the cattle grid near Speedwell Cavern at 10.14:30 seconds am on Sunday 31st October] 


Wendy Mathie (Penge Cycle Club)

2021 has been a year of firsts for me – my first duathlon (I’ve done many triathlons but never a duathlon!), first crit, first time trial, first cyclocross race, first hill climb.

I only decided to give hill climbs a go after I crashed out at my second crit race ever. After my first hill climb [Kingston Wheelers event on Leith Hill], I was hooked.

I think every hill climb teaches you so much about yourself, and you can always improve.

Last Sunday I raced at Ironman Sardinia after seven days of no sleep, mainly due to my sick son. So you feel in no way prepared for Winnats physically, but mentally….I love going uphill.

[Wendy sets off from the cattle grid near Speedwell Cavern at 10.06:30 seconds am on Sunday 31st October] 

Related posts

Winning on Winnats (Part 7): Maddie Heywood on the National Hill Climb Championships

Winning on Winnats (Part 6): Illi Gardner and Vikki Filsell on the National Hill Climb Championships

Winning on Winnats (Part 5): Becky Hair on the National Hill Climb Championships

Winning on Winnats (Part 4): Frances Owen on the National Hill Climb Championships

Winning on Winnats (Part 3): Rebecca Richardson on the National Hill Climb Championships

Winning on Winnats (Part 2): Mary Wilkinson on the National Hill Climb Championships

Winning on Winnats (Part 1): Bithja Jones on the National Hill Climb Championships

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