“If you can’t taste blood after the finish, you didn’t go hard enough”. Some nice, savage advice for hill climb virgin Nathan James on the drive over to ‘the shoe’ ahead of Fibrax Wrexham RC’s annual hill climb. A week of Spanish food, beaches and beers had me rather worried about my own level of form! The weather gods decided the 3.75km, 6% average climb course wasn’t hard enough, so added a nice stiff wind into the mix. At least it was a ‘tad’ warmer than last year.
Ten intrepid CRC riders had made the start in search of WCTTCA team points in the long running battle against Wrexham RC. Brilliant support from a great swathe of red, white and blue CRC along the finish straight, courtesy of Johnny Walkers Sunday hilly group. Massive thank you to all who got up early to ride over and support.
Pre-race sign on ‘nerves’ sent me off in search of the Ponderosa facilities! Nathan who was starting earlier was already out warming up. Lots of muttering while pinning on numbers about the cold and the wind. I was regretting my stupid weight weenie choice of my tri-spoke front because it weighs 50g less than my normal front wheel! Absolutely no fun riding that in the wind on the day.
The race for me? Horrible as always! Way too hard out of the start block. Screaming legs, lungs and max heart rate by the first left hand ramp. Suffer that idiotic start and the headwind up over the cattle grid and the long straight. Hit the horseshoe bends in fear and trepidation of the steeper ramp up past the house. It’s not 20% like the sign says but it feels like 25% mid race run. Out of the saddle as it ramps but by that point the legs are goners, so slump back into the saddle and grind it out to the final bend while trying to maintain some semblance of power. Forget that the finish is way further away than you think from the last bend and push on. A blur as Sam Marshal from Frodsham Wheelers flies past me out of the saddle and in full attack mode from 3 minutes back (I think he finished 14th on the day). Relief as you spot that red, white and blue CRC swathe, hear the cowbells egging you on and give it everything you’ve got left. Collapse in a heap in the lay-by past the finish. Ouch!
Nathan and a couple of the supporter crew came to say hello and well done whilst I was borderline vomiting up a lung. Nathan was looking far too happy with himself. He had paced it well and was fastest CRC rider on the day with a pretty creditable 12:52 and 38th place. Kudos on your first hill climb Nathan! Karl Southern and Brian Woods 2nd and 3rd CRC with 13:04 and 13:22 respectively. Great rides guys! We all have a way to go to match Dan Evans winning with 9:14, an epic time on a tough day! The debrief in the Ponderosa cafe over a hot chocolate was very welcome. I’ll be back as always next year for more pain, suffering and to get my own back on Karl Southern who kicked my arse this year. Hope to see you all there in 2020.
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