Mel Sneddon gets talked into racing the Walbury Hill Climb, just for the training, obviously…
Having quietly suggested to a few people that I might attempt the local hill climb time trial, there was a little too much laughter for my liking. As the event was to be run by Newbury Road Club, I knew it was going to be a beautifully organised and a fun event and in addition to this, the race was to be on a local hill that I knew well. With a prize list like nothing I have ever seen before, including equal prize money for men and women, £500 for the winner, sausages for the Lantern Rouge and prizes for the ‘Best Effort’, as well as Vets and Junior prizes.
However, my ability to go up hill is far from legendary. It has been said that I generally go up hill like a concrete block. My initial plan was to go for the Lantern Rouge sausage prize by towing both children and the dog in a bike trailer to the top of the hill. That way, there was a small chance that I may win both the Best Effort prize and the Lantern Rouge to feed my children on sausages for a week (which they were rather looking forward to). Sadly, I came to the conclusion that this wasn’t really in the spirit of the event. Looking for excuses to get out of what initially seemed a good idea, coach Chris Davis felt it was an ideal effort the weekend before the World Masters Track Championships and with that, I found myself on the start line of a hill climb.
Pulling a wheelie off the start (purely accidental I may add!), I accelerated up the first ramp and gradually built on my power, but stayed seated throughout the climb. The stunning views you get as the hill opens out were masked by my Garmin power figures. On arrival at the crest of the hill, the shouting and support drove me to the line… 5 minutes and 45 seconds of pain. After 10 minutes of recovery, the local radio station interviewed me, although whether I made sense or not is another matter entirely.
I think I was about eighth, but honestly, it was so much fun! I would definitely do that again next year. If you are born a natural climber, or you have never done a hill climb before and want to give it a go, make sure this is on your to do list for 2016. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you get to the top, the support is the same. That, and the views at the top are the best you will get for miles, plus the HQ is in a pub… need I say more?
Many thanks to Chris Boulton and his entire team at Newbury RC for organising the Walbury Hill Climb; I am looking forward to doing it again in 2016 already.
Thanks must also go to those who support me, without whom, I would not be racing.