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Hill climbs and cyclo-cross

On Saturday 7th October Brighton Mitre CC held their annual double-header of hill climbs, which also formed Rounds 4 and 5 of the Strada Wheels-TMC South Downs Hill Climb series.

As is customary the first serving of pain was dealt on the fearsome slopes of Steyning Bostal which ramp up to nearly 20% as you leave the village and crest the Downs.  Peter Baker was the only entrant for Lewes Wanderers and he placed a solid 25th from 39 finishers thanks to his time of 5 minutes 30.2 seconds.

There was a change of course for the second test as action switched from the northern ascent to the approach from the south up Titch Hill, which actually involves two short climbs with descents in between, before the main effort back up to more-or-less where the morning’s exertions ended.  Once again Peter was the sole Wanderer participating and he recorded a time of 10:49.5 for this event to finish 17th out of 25 competitors.

Dan Street by Paul Fletcher

The following day saw Round 5 of the Challenge Tyres London and South East Cyclo-Cross League hosted by Herne Hill Youth CC in and around Herne Hill Velodrome and its grounds.  From twisting around the grass infield the course here crosses the tarmac banking and heads out into the wilds of the rough land surrounding the track.  It returns via a viciously steep man-made hill of excavated earth that is charmingly known as “Big Bob”and can only be ridden by the strongest racers.

Such was the case in the race for men over 50 as Dan Street decided to dismount and carry his bike on the opening lap and passed four riders who tried and failed to crest this rise in the saddle.  He was still in a potential podium place on the third of seven laps when he slid out on gravel on a tight corner.  He remounted at the cost of only one place, but his shoe had come loose and the fastening was blocked by dirt from his fall.  With no chance to run or ride Big Bob he had to stop to attend to the shoe and in doing so he lost four places.  He recovered to 5th with two circuits to go, but the effort left him with nothing to prevent another rider overtaking him in the sprint to the line.

Peter Baker was joined on the startsheet by Ed Tuckley for the East Sussex Cycling Association Hill Climb Hill Climb on Saturday 14th October.  Forty-one other athletes put themselves forward to tackle the steep ramps of Firle Beacon on a bright and sunny morning.  Peter stopped the watch after 5 minutes 45.8 seconds to place 29th with Ed two spots behind in 5:51 exactly.

The slopes were somewhat less vertiginous and exposed the following morning, but an autumn chill and the long grind of Brantridge Lane near Staplefield faced the 30 entrants for the Sussex Revolution Velo Club Hill Climb.  Peter Baker claimed 17th place with a time 2.08 seconds outside of 7 minutes.

Darren Haynes will go a long way for cyclo-cross and he did just that later that day as he lined up on the front row for the DFDS Grand Prix of Dover.  Round 2 of the East Kent Cyclo-Cross League was held at Duke of York’s Military School and promoted by VC Deal.  The competition was fierce at the front of the race and Darren avoided a pile-up on the second corner and exchanged places throughout the contest to greet the chequered flag in 10th position.

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