On an unseasonably warm Wednesday evening in October, the North Wirral Velo re-established the annual club hill climb champs.
More than 50 years separated the youngest to the most senior of riders, with a vast range of abilities in between. As such, the event organiser and TT legend Robin Hennessy had used some ancient Chinese magic to work out a handicap system to level the hill climbing up hill playing field. Otherwise known as Strava segments, Robin calculated the handicap times on the Thurstaston Hill segment that nearly all riders in the event had a time up. This, as usual caused a lot of debate, particularly the ones who had used a moped to record their Strava segments.
To the race, and first off was Monsieur Denby, a self proclaimed pre race favourite, having ridden the course 46 times in the last month in preparation. However, he sportingly wore 17 layers of clothes to slow himself down in the warmer than normal weather. He was closely (actually a minute) followed by the real race favourite (on actual time) Dave “The Racing Leg End” Cuthill. His carefully prepared starting effort was interrupted by paparazzi in a car in front of him trying to get the front cover for next months “Take a Break”. The car in question soon sped up and Dave maliciously drafted behind it to turn any time lost into a good 24 second gain.
Next to start was Mike “Dark Horse” Hurworth who was still reeling after losing the club TT to Mike Hornsby and was hoping to go one better. Unfortunately Robin was onto his previous generous handicap and so penalised Mike to give him little chance of an easy victory. Following Mike was Jon “carefully edited my Strava segment to ensure victory” Doyle, who, given a massive handicap had time to ride the climb without breaking a sweat, and as such still looked cool and composed at the finish line.
However, the big guns had not all rolled out as yet and first of those was Pete “I don’t think 10k for a bike is excessive” Clarke who flew out of the start looking for a fast time to show all the young upstarts how it’s done. Following Pete was Anthony “I’m rubbish at this, no actually I’m ok” Doolan who started like a bullet from a gun. Let’s just say that pacing himself is not one of his strongest suits. Then, as the flash bulbs popped, Scott “I haven’t coughed like this since 1993” O’Brien rolled to the start line. He set off in true TT style, only to have to ease up round the corner and ride sensibly the rest of the way.
Then one of our international club stars made a surprise appearance, having flown in especially from New Zealand, chasing the dream of gaining the massive kudos as club hill climb champion. Whether it was the jet lag, the extremely retro steel LLoydy bike or vast quantities of pizza eaten just 20 minutes before, Russ Jones fell short, but not very short of his goal. Last man off was the one everyone else feared when he rolled up to the start. Henry “H” Timewell, son of former club member Steve, decided to give everyone reason to go as hard as possible up the climb. Despite riding a mountain bike with full knobbly tyres, H, only 12 years old shot up the climb to claim the first Junior prize.
It was a superb event, well organised, especially the post race analysis in the Anchor pub, Irby. Thanks to Robin for organising it, Steve Timewell for the pushing off and to guest timekeeper, Mrs Nicola O’Brien. But more over thank you and well done to the riders. See you next year!