Hill climbs. One of the most feared events in cycling? Riding full gas up a hill for fun. A few minutes of pain for an hour of feeling sick. “You’d never catch me doing that” I always said, yet here I am getting ready for my first ever hill climb… the Horseshoe Pass hill climb.
Lucy and I were talking when she hit me with “fancy the Horseshoe Pass hill climb in a couple of weeks?” Absolutely not I thought!
1, I’ve only been on my bike a couple of times in the last month.
2, No way am I fast enough.
3, The Horseshoe Pass? No way!
Nevertheless here I am entering just a few hours before entries close.
Monday 1st October
The realisation hit me like a bus that I’ve only been on my bike 4 times since August and I’ve only got 6 days left until race day! So I did a 15 minute HIIT session on the turbo… like that was going to help!
Sunday 7th October
It’s the big day. It’s hill climb day. And it’s 4⁰C!
Upon arriving at sign on, the sound of turbo trainers echoed like a swarm of bees. My nerves quickly erupted, my stomach was full of butterflies and I didn’t want to do it. Why? Because of the fear of coming last and looking like a fool. Thanks to Lucy who reassured me that it’s all about getting to the top and not how quickly you get there I collected my number, did my warm up then rode down to the start. With every tick of the seconds hand my start time was drawing nearer. My nerves were creeping up on me again.
Then it was time…
“UP, UP, UP!”
A few minutes in and my lungs were already burning, my legs were heavy and I wanted to stop. The road felt steeper than it had ever done before. I was passed by a couple of people who flew up the hill, making it look easy. Spectators on the side of the road were clapping and roaring shouts of encouragement to every rider who passed. Over ¾ of the way up I felt like I was drowning. Trying to take in oxygen but it was never enough and the cold air made it hard to breathe.
Nearly there and there’s people everywhere! I could see their mouths moving but all I could hear was my heart pounding. Looking down at my Garmin I saw my heart rate was at 204bpm!
100m to go. So close.
75m. Don’t stop now.
50m. Keep going.
25m. Final push.
It took me a while to catch my breath and my words were few and far between. The wave of relief which was more like a tsunami washed right over me. I did it. Despite the unpleasantness of the ride to the top, I loved it and wanted to do it again. We stayed at the finish for a while cheering the other riders on.
Overall, I came 113th out of 144, won the prize for the fastest mixed team (vet, lady and junior) with Oswestry Paragons and was treated to the biggest (and nicest) piece of cake known to man at the Ponderosa Cafe afterwards! On the whole I had a great day and can’t wait until next year.
The thing I loved most about it was that it didn’t matter how fast/slow/young/old you were, everyone was given the same amount of encouragement. Everybody was so kind and helpful, reminiscing on their first hill climb and wanting you to do your best. It didn’t matter what time you did it in or what kind of equipment you had, it was all about getting to the top. Everyone suffered equally and were all praised for how hard they tried. I learnt that it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are, the fact that you just put the effort in to do it is something to be proud of. And at the end of the day, no matter how slow you go, you’re still overlapping everyone on the sofa!
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