Once again I was defending my title as St Neots Cycling Club Hill Climb Champion, and, if I had concerns last year about some of my club mates, this year I really did have something to worry about. With a number of strong new members joining and several existing members riding very well this year, I knew I would have to work hard to get my name on the trophy for a fourth consecutive year.
I guess most folk waking up this morning for their Sunday ride probably felt tempted to go straight back to bed, I however, looked out of my bedroom window with a degree of optimism. Hopefully, at least some of my rivals would prefer the warmth of their wife/girlfriend/duvet to the cold rain on Staughton Moor, the hill climb course.
Arriving for sign-on Rich Hancock’s name (strong tester, triathlete on the European stage) was already on the sheet. Not good news. I signed on, sheltering through the window of the time keeper’s Land Rover Defender. I saw John Sheasby (MTB racer new road bike owner) and Wayne (2nd cat roadie) arrive. I went for a ride and passed club strong man Joe Finucane riding down the Moor. Great. The four people I did not want to see were here along with a few potential outsiders.
12 of us raced, and as defending champion, I was last to go, acting as pusher off while time keeper Colin marked the minutes. I went flat out, pushing hard. The conditions were not easy, but the rain had eased and the wind wasn’t completely against us. I crested onto the false flat after the climb (or what counts for one on this course) and raced to the finish line and the encouraging shouts from the riders who’d gone before. It felt like a good time, but it wasn’t quite good enough. My favourite for the race was Joe, and I had been proved correct, he’d won with an excellent time of 4.13. Rich Hancock was next on 4.23 and I was one second behind him, on 4.24, for 3rd place. I suspect next year’s race may be quite competitive….