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Hill Climb Sunday: 10.10.10
The hill climb is a distinctly British peculiarity, perhaps even more clandestine and bizarre than the traditional time trials that still thrive along A-roads of the UK. It’s a specialist event, a subgenre of an already niche corner of cycle racing. Traditionally held at the end of the season, they are about pure power and speed.
They take various forms ranging between one minute and seven minute ascents. Classic hills like the Rake in Ramsbottom, Bank Road in the Peaks and longer climbs such as Cheddar Gorge in Somerset provide mercilessly steep gradients.
Every Autumn, riders and spectators from the South East and beyond make the journey towards the edge of the North Downs for either the Catford Hill Climb Classic in the morning, the Bec CC Hill Climb in the afternoon, or both. These are short but very steep bumps in the landscape; nasty, lung-busting and leg-shattering hill sprints in the English countryside.
Catford, claimed to be the world’s oldest cycle race, began in 1887. Taking place on Yorks Hill since 1935, it is regarded as the South of England Hill Climb Championship. For 2010 Rapha Condor Sharp riders Dean Downing, Graham Briggs, Kristian House and Jonathan Teirnan Locke will be gracing both the Catford and Bec Hill Climbs to bring some panache to the proceedings. House, who has ridden well all season, is looking to claim a few scalps and break the 27 year old Catford record, set by Phil Mason in 1983.
The men in black will then be making their way over to White Lane in Surrey for the younger but no less brutal Bec CC Hill Sprint. Bradley Wiggins rode in 2005 at the 50th Anniversary edition as a tribute to his friend and founder of the event Ron Beckett, where Jody Crawforth set a winning time of 1.47 in his first ever hill climb. In 2007 Dan Fleeman, a ‘Hill Climb Virgin’, set a time of 1 min 43, and with it toppled Gary Dodd’s 12 year old record.
Rapha will be at both events to cheer on the team and perhaps even join the action. Onwards and upwards.
Sunday 10th October
Catford Hill Climb Classic | 10.30 hrs
Yorks Hill, Goathurst Common, Kent TN14
To enter visit
Bec Hill Climb | 14.00 hrs
White Lane, Titsey, Surrey TN16 2
To enter visit
Read a feature on Catford Hill Climb here »
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