The Sir William Hill Climb is run by organisers of the Grindleford Goat weekend with proceeds this year going to the Grindleford & Eyam playgroup, so it’s all in a good cause. The hill climb event began in 2015 and has been building on its success ever since.
For me, it was a first attempt, and with no reccying beforehand except a quick look on Strava at the incline graph, I wasn’t holding out for a fast time. In fact, my only concession in the pre-planning department was to remove both water bottle cages and the seat bag – afterall it wasn’t going to do me any good to be carrying a spare inner tube in case of a flat! I did allow sufficient time for a warm up, though.
Signing on and number collection was easy peasy as I’d entered online. I was given a choice of number, which dictated when I would start and, being the non-supersticious sort, I went for no.13. This meant I got an early start and could get it over and done with instead of potentially getting too cold.
With a 3 mile warm-up I arrived at the start line with 3 minutes to spare. The guy in front of me assured me I’d catch him in no time, although I had my doubts by the look of his physique. Conversely, I had no doubt the 30-something behind me would pass me early on in the ascent.
At the start line there is someone who holds the rider’s bike to allow him to have both shoes clipped into the pedals, but the guy holding the bike doesn’t push the rider off, so I was a bit uneasy about the off as I could just see me making a fool of myself by falling sideways off the bike before I’d even turned a pedal! But it didn’t come to that 🙂
Strava had shown the first third of the climb to be the steepest, with the last two-thirds having a much more gentle gradient – this all being relative, of course! But as I set off I was feeling good with the pace so went up a couple of gears which I managed to keep turning quite well. But all good things come to an end and as it became more difficult to keep the momentum going I should have changed down, but being too obstinate I battled on.
However, the guy in front was right, I did catch him very quickly. By the time I was a third of the way up I was spent. Grabbing lung-fulls of air with every breath it was now a struggle to the finish at 1.2 miles and a further 648ft closer to heaven. The guy who started a minute after me caught me at about the two-thirds stage.
I can honestly say that 1.2 miles is the longest 1.2 miles I’ve ever ridden and possibly the most painful, too.
As I crossed the finish line my lungs felt like they’d been seared with a red hot poker. And as I write this 2 days later I have a cough and can feel the residue of pain in my chest.
I spent quite some time at the top recovering before slowly descending to the signing-on point at the Sir William Hotel. Here I noticed an Army Cycling woman and said hello, mentioning I’d met another Army Cycling woman at a race in Redbridge. Turns out they know each other.
It was at least another hour before the results would be known so I stowed the bike in the back of the car and returned home. I’ll keep a look out for the results on the website and post a link here when they’re up.
If I did this hill climb again next year it would be too early!