The winner of today’s Sunderland Clarion Hill Climb was Michael Openshaw. Name rings a bell? This former runner, born in 1972, has a 5000m time of 13.24 and a p.b. 10k time of 29:22. He’s puts his hand to cycling with Cestria CC now. Nice transition.
Hill climbs are all about altitude. While his time was near stellar, mine was a more pokey, subterranean affair. It really is odd that I can bury myself to finish nearly last on a bike. When I run, I can sometimes manage a top ten finish with the same effort. However, I like cycling. Much easier on the body. The joints can have a day off. Get to wear stylish lycra and pose around on bikes with nice paint jobs. Miss the burn of running though and its about to make a comeback.
For a second time in a row, I was off No.13. Someone has it informee. Informee. Yes, Frankie Howard, blah, blah.......
Even in such a specialist pursuit like hill climbing, it’s remarkable how different a course can be, how the gradients, road surface, twists and turns, suit some more than others. For me, today’s event was a behemoth of a hill. A dinosaur. A big long drag with 3 steep inclines and 3 or 4 false flats (whatever they are) where you can grab some air. But in hill climbing, if you can grab some air, you’re just not trying hard enough. It’s a discipline with the tightest margins where you’re aiming to hit your aerobic ceiling. That ceiling is as fine as gossamer. Too much effort and you put yourself into the red zone; for hill climbing, the dead zone, where speed becomes hindered and strange things like tunnel vision begin to happen.
Today it was a long hard pull up a 2 mile hill. I dug out the Condor which has a small ratio gear cassette at the back; but on closer inspection, I stuck it back in the car and pulled out the Wilier.
On a warm up, the gears jumped a few times and I realised it needs another bit of adjusting. These Italian machines are annoyingly temperamental. Soon at the start, I was off and plugging away up the first kick-up and past the Nursery car park being used as race HQ. I was in the big ring for a wee while, then it was down onto the small ring. There was a couple of huddles of club cyclists on the way up, but quiet compared to last week. I was soon up onto the ridge and catching my breath, whacked it into a bigger gear and made for the line. Time 10:03; Four seconds off what I had hoped, but it was what it was, and I rode another 3 or 4 miles to cool down. The presentation recognised us older types and it was £15 in notes for 2nd V50. I think there were only three.
The young pretender Openshaw waltzed up the climbin 7.40 something. I like to get my moneys’ worth!!