For My Birthday I Got Some Candlesticks

To celebrate the 11th anniversary of my 21st I entered a local hill-climb. It’s an annual event, which although it doesn’t really count for anything, has a lot of pride at stake.

I had won it a couple of years ago, and indeed still hold the course record, but after last year’s event I had been forced to lend the coveted silver candlesticks trophy to George Thompson, I now wanted them back. George wasn’t there, due to a clash with a cross race, but Stuart McKeller, another former winner, and Darren ‘Sparrow’ Jessop both were and they were keen.


As this is Lincolnshire the hill we were using wasn’t very big, three quarters of a mile long with about 190feet of climbing (no sniggering from the Welsh riders please) It was flat, then steep and then a flat sprint again at the top and I think it is the transition from the steep bit to the sprint at the top where the race is won and lost.  Although it was a warm and sunny day there was a fairly significant wind blowing down the hill towards us.

I drew number 14, which meant I started 2 minutes after Stuart at number 12 and ahead of number 16, Sparrow. I watched Stuart go and he shot off like the proverbial scalded cat. (How do cat’s get scalded anyway? His Lordship can’t even open his own tins of food, never mind attempt to cook anything or make a cup of tea)

We watched Stuart go, and then James Priestly stepped up to take his turn at unlucky 13, his number on upsidedown as tradition dictates. He looked pretty quick too, he was out of sight around the first bend before I even set off. I had forgotten just how much this race hurts. The first flat bit isn’t too bad but the steep bit just seems to go on for ages. My legs were screaming at me to slow down but in a short race like this every second counts, there’s usually only a couple of seconds in it. The spectators shouting ‘encouragement’ at the top of the hill didn’t really help either...

The flat bit at the top felt really slow, the head wind was really strong there. I was only doing 24mph when I crossed the line, it would usually be over 30mph, I hadn’t even needed the big ring. My time was exactly 3 minutes. I have never seen it won in such a slow time, George did 2min41sec last year and my record the year before was 2min35sec, this wasn’t looking good.

We saw Sparrow cross the line, he seemed to be going quite fast, apparently the wind wasn’t affecting him. I went to check the times.

I had done 3 minutes dead, James, whom no-one had really been tipping, had pulled a great ride out of the bag and he took second with 3min06sec. It was a dead heat for third between Stuart and Sparrow, both at 3min20sec. That will do nicely.


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