Following Bithja’s interview and with entries closing on 11th October for National Hill Climb Championships 2022, we speak to 2021 National Hill Climb Champion Tom Bell.
L: How did the love for hill climbing start for you?
T: I’ve raced mountain bike cross-country at an international level for quite a few years and so that’s the discipline I have the most experience with, but before that I was riding bikes in high school. The first actual hill climb event I did was whilst I was at university back in 2009. Being naturally lightweight, I’ve always been good on hills in any cycling discipline I’ve participated in, but I decided to actually train specifically for hill climb events from around mid-2020. I did get 5th at the hill climb national championships back in 2015 without any formal training or bike preparation, so I knew then that at some point I’d quite like to focus on the discipline more seriously and see what I could achieve.
L: How did you find last year, and what are your thoughts on this year’s course?
T: Last year was great. I had a good season and managed to get everything to come together on the day of the National Championships on Winnats Pass. It was a really challenging day for everyone with the weather conditions being cold and extremely wet. This made warming up before the event and finding grip on the climb during the event really challenging, but to be able to achieve my main goal of the year on such an iconic climb was very satisfying.
I really like the climb for this year’s course, which is the Old Horseshoe just outside of Llangollen. I’ve checked out the climb recently and it’s pretty sustainably steep and reasonably long, so I think it’s the kind of course that will suit my particular strengths.
L: If you were to encourage anyone new to the sport entered into Nationals, what would you say?
T: I’d encourage anyone thinking about entering the Nationals to do so because it’s such an exciting atmosphere on the day with all the spectators that turn out. It’s very similar to what professional riders will experience on climbs in grand tours and other large events. As much as everyone takes their race effort seriously and wants to go as fast as they can, everyone is really friendly at hill climbs and each rider gets great support in the nationals during the race, so it’s a perfect setting to get the most out of yourself.
With entries closing for the National Hill Climb on 11th October, get your entries in via the links below. If you need more information on finding a CTT club so you can race, head to the bottom of Bithja’s interview!
Also, you can find Tom on Instagram by clicking here.
If you can’t race, but still want to support the event, why not get the best seat in the house by being a marshal? If you’d like more information on marshalling, drop us a message on Facebook or Instagram.