Feature (words & photos): Matlock CC Hill Climb

Gunnar Gronlund of the RST Racing Team won the two stage hill climb around Matlock after winning stage 1 and 4th on stage 2.

Larry Hickmott gets his hat and goes walkabout to Matlock to see how fast the natives get up the hills in Derbyshire….

Having been stuck indoors for weeks on end, either at track championships or chained to the keyboard feeding the insatiable appetite VeloUK has for results and news, I decided it was time to visit that ever so British event, the Hill Climb. It seems, and I could be wrong because I am so new to these events, these are usually held at the end of the road season. Instead of the ‘10’ or ‘25’ being the event for the time trialist, the Hill Climb takes over in September and October but perhaps not in the numbers that many would like to see. Me included.

The Matlock CC Hill Climb Photo Album

The Hill Climb is a short visit to the hurt box for a period from a minute to many minutes and it’s all pain. There are no hiding places and no lungs are big enough to feed the muscles screaming for oxygen which of course results in the pain that is etched over the competitors faces.

So it is understandable why many will attempt them but it does give the opportunity for roadmen to take on the testers and that is what happened in Matlock with Mike Cumming (Twenty3C Orbea) and Dave Clarke (Endura Racing) among them.

This pretty Derbsyhire town with a proper chippy (trust me to see that) sits alongside a river and has some rather tasty hills. So Matlock CC decided to have the second stage of their two stage Hill Climb on Bank road in the middle of town. Road works meant the course was shortened and it was so short you could see the start from the finish!

It’s only a guess but the gradient was around 1 in 10, 1 in 11 which doesn’t really make it a proper hill climb for us outsiders but then the steep bit was past the road works so it was unavoidable because as we all know, road works can spring up without warning.

The warmup for the one minute effort is a long one…

It meant the climb was going to be a minute long for the top guys so a good warm-up was needed and in the car park alongside the bus shelter where the start was, the riders warmed up on turbos or rollers as me and my partner Patricia looked on.

Now, I didn’t take a look at all the bikes but what did surprise me was that the bikes were just road bikes or TT bikes. Now, I’m not up to speed on CTT rules (I’m sure some one will let me know) but is there not a need for cutting the weight of the bike right down – or is there a minimum weight limit for these events?

Small blocks and single chain rings or even a single fixed/freewheel bike for a climb when the gradient remains the same the whole way up. Yes, I know the legs will buckle but they need to man up and stay on top of the gear!

Maybe I’ll see some specialist machines at the nationals if I can make it along to that event after the late night at Revolution the night before. Anyway, the winning bike for the two stage event was a Trigon (sponsor of VeloUK) of Gunnar Gronlund with Continental clinchers (at a guess, the clincher bit that is, another sponsor of VeloUK). It even had the Trigon carbon bottle cage on but then that probably weighed less than a gram or two. It also had SRM power cranks on it and they do add weight to a bike as I learnt when I was working with GB but they also provide valuable data to the cyclist wanting to get the most from their racing and training.

L-R: Matt Clinton, Mike Cumming (who both tied for the win in Matlock) and overall winner Gunnar Gronlund

Anyway, the event. The Hill Climb was a race against the watch, up an open road, bit busy for my liking but well marshalled and the favourites who had raced a much steeper climb in the morning, were all seeded at the end.

Some only just made it up the slopes with their power to weight ratio perhaps not what it should be for attempting such an event, while others screamed up the slopes and I mean ‘close your ears’ screamed!

It was all over so quick (which I liked) with only 29 riders and the winner was not one rider but two, Mike Cumming of VeloUK sponsor Twenty3C-Orbea and former National Champion Matt Clinton. They both covered the distance in one minute, one second. The overall winner, Gunnar Gronlund of RST Racing Team, was ‘only’ fourth, 2.3 seconds back and there were seven riders within ten seconds of the winner.

With the last rider having raced past, the breathing heavy, the muscles screaming and the spectators ringing cow bells to get them to hurt that little but more, it was time to walk to the bottom which was a lot easier than the walk up.

Endura Racing’s Dave Clarke sprinting up the hill in Matlock.

Credit to the organisers for getting the result sheet in my inbox by the time I had driven the two hour journey home and to the riders for giving me a glimpse of the quintessential autumn past time of racing cyclists who like to race up hills…

Next year, I’ll to try and get out more and see the classics like the Catford CC and BEC CC hill climbs or if there are some classics up north, one of them. There has to be a crowd mind, lots more cow bells and a road that really is steep, at least one in six … old school!

PS: I can’t work out who won the gurning competition… you take a look and tell me!

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1 Gunnar Gronlund RST Racing Team S 01:03.3 03:36.0 04:39.3
2 Mike Cuming Twenty 3c S 01:01.0 03:39.5 04:40.5
3 Matt Clinton Mike Vaughan Cycles S 01:01.0 03:45.2 04:46.2
4 David Clarke Endura Racing S 01:05.9 03:47.1 04:53.0
5 Daniel Sullivan Norwood Paragon CC S 01:03.2 03:50.4 04:53.6
6 Charles Taylor South Pennine RC S 01:06.5 03:47.5 04:54.0
7 Chris Green Matlock CC V 01:14.3 04:18.0 05:32.3
8 Tom Bailey Rutland CC S 01:05.2 04:28.0 05:33.2
9 Peter Colledge Matlock CC V 01:10.3 04:26.8 05:37.1
10 Daniel Panichella Sheffield Sports CC S 01:11.1 04:30.3 05:41.4
10 Arthur Green Matlock CC Y 01:23.0 04:18.4 05:41.4
12 Mark Tickle Leigh Premier S 01:11.0 04:30.5 05:41.5
13 Chris Sharp Matlock CC S 01:18.6 04:23.5 05:42.1
14 Andrew Leigh Manchester Whs CC J 01:06.7 04:37.5 05:44.2
15 Mark Newing Beeston CC S 01:16.3 04:30.9 05:47.2
15 Kevin White Matlock CC V 01:18.0 04:29.2 05:47.2
17 Steve Heading Matlock CC V 01:20.5 04:33.2 05:53.7
18 Stewart Gregory Nottingham Clarion CC V 01:25.9 04:28.9 05:54.8
19 Stuart Baker Buxton CC S 01:28.7 04:34.6 06:03.3
20 Paul Hodgkinson Matlock CC V 01:22.3 04:48.2 06:10.5
21 John Cornfield Born to Bike S 01:28.7 04:55.6 06:24.3
22 Gregg Booker Matlock CC Y 01:23.3 05:02.1 06:25.4
23 Leon Evans Matlock CC S 01:21.4 05:10.8 06:32.2
24 Jonathan Baines Buxton CC S 01:22.1 05:14.8 06:36.9
25 Sam Mansfield Manchester Whs CC J 01:25.1 05:13.2 06:38.3
26 Richard Towse Buxton CC S 01:38.7 05:14.8 06:53.5
27 Samuel Garner Buxton CC Y 01:31.1 05:33.6 07:04.7
28 Nick Bates Belper BC V 01:35.2 05:38.9 07:14.1
29 Josh Eaton Matlock CC J 02:14.9 08:38.5 10:53.4

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