Feature Interview: Richard Bussell


Feature chat with British Hill Climb and 10 champion, Richard Bussell after his latest win at the Stratford CC Hill Climb

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Feature Interview: Richard Bussell

At the end of the month, the British Hill Climb championship will take place on the ever so steep Bank road in Matlock where the maximum gradient is 20% with an average gradient of 14%.


Wearing a new skinsuit from Nopinz which weights 186 grams, Richard wins the Stratford CC hill climb. He says his normal skinsuit was 400 grams so the hill climb one is really good.

The distance of the championship race against the watch is just 834 metres but it’s a tough two minute plus effort and the number of contenders for the title is expected to be quite a few. One of them is Richard Bussell, the defending British hill climb champion and after he won the Stratford CC hill climb on Dovers Hill, VeloUK sat down for a chat.

Richard is quite a rider who has risen to prominence in the last couple of seasons. Richard is not only the Hill Climb Champion but also the 10 champ and is pretty handy in road races too. Fourth overall in the RAS de Cymru (cat 2/3/4 stage race) in Wales is an example of just how good he is on the road.

Another result that stands out among the few road races he has ridden is 4th in the Tour of the Mining Valleys in Wales, a national B event and a tough one at that. So while he hasn’t ridden for long (2012 in road races), the results are quality not quantity!

Richard, who is in his late 20’s, has been riding a bike for around eight years and is a postman who spends his day walking for four or so hours a day. He rose to prominence in 2015, winning the 10 title for the first time and the hill climb championship as well.

And all on a budget too! If you’re expecting the hill climb bike of a British champion to be all singing and dancing think again. His weapon for the Hill Climb title is done on a budget. An aluminium Giant with some very light carbon wheels and no gears means his bike is around five and half kilos which will not be as light as some I have seen. Which puts his performances and results all the more remarkable.


Richard on his way to winning the title in 2015

The day we spoke was last Sunday, the day for the Stratford CC Dovers Hill event which he won from former hill climb champion Matt Clinton. He admits that Dovers Hill isn’t his favourite type of climb. “It’s a steady climb as in having a consistent gradient where as I prefer the climbs where you’re out of the saddle, in the saddle and so on. On the fixed, I like to be grinding out of the saddle or in the saddle recovering where as this one was too much out of the saddle for my liking!”

“But it was good and shows the form is good even though I could have done with a harder gear. I was on 39 x 18 and it seemed a bit too easy on the steep bits where I like to dig in a bit more although I was glad at the finish I could still pedal it”.

The hill climb is generally a short effort, as little as a minute effort for some (Monsal for example) but longer for others and with the Stratford event, almost four minutes for the leading two riders; Bussell and Clinton. So I had to ask, with the effort being so short, is that it for the day!

‘Yes’ was the reply, with Richard adding that the warm up is also tough so there is more than just that one effort on the day. “The warm up for these is really hard with lots of sweating and is really intense. You don’t want to tire yourself out too much but you do want to get that feeling in your legs and it’s a tough one to judge”.

As the 10 champion, Richard explained that the intervals he does to prepare for the different events also vary. “If I was doing a 10, I would probably do 400 watt intervals but this effort was probably above 500 watts”.

At the Stratford CC event, Richard, as was Matt Clinton and a few riders, riding a fixed gear machine. He explained “all the hill climbs I do are suitable for fixed gear efforts and I like the idea of riding fixed because when I first started riding, I rode a fixed gear bike and I still ride one to and from work and over hills and stuff and I just enjoy it”.

“For the hill climbs which is such a short effort, it gives me more time to concentrate on the climbing instead of thinking about a bail out gear for example when you should be digging in. So the fixed helps”.

Going back to 2015 and his win in the Hill Climb Championship at Jackson Bridge in Yorkshire, where he beat Dan Evans and Joe Clark, he admits winning was pretty special! “Winning the championship last year felt amazing. I know a lot of people worked hard for it but I also know how hard I worked for it so it felt so good knowing I was capable of that. It has put pressure on me for this year though”.

“Last year, I think, I was considered one of the favourites but I wasn’t sure how I was going to go as I hadn’t really raced any of them.” Asked to compare winning the Hill Climb title to the 10 championship which is a real blue ribbon time trial event, Richard says “it took a while to sink in after winning the 10 the first time because I wasn’t sure I was going to win it”.

“I just rode it and thought I’d be up there in the top 10, top 5, and so winning it was overwhelming. Winning the hill climb which I was aiming for, so riding to win and then winning it, felt so much better than when I won the 10 the first time. When I won the 10 this year however, that was better, because defending titles is quite hard”.


When he isn’t going fast up hill, Richard is going very fast over 10 or 25 miles

Ten mile time trials and hill climbs do look like two very different efforts but Richard shrugs that off saying “I’d consider myself a bit of an all-rounder so it’s fine. I’m not a super strong sprinter or super light, but if I can lose the weight, I can I do both”.

He admits his training does change for the hill climbs. “I haven’t done a ride for the last few weeks longer than 30 miles. It’s all about riding to and from work and then going out and doing three or four hill climb efforts. When I was training for the 10 though, I’d be out on the bike for two or three hours”.

Besides the specific training on a suitably steep climb that is local to him, Richard also finds his job as a postman helps him in his hill climbing. “The walking is tiring but does help for hill climbs because it is not taxing the legs in terms of cycling but helps keep the weight off”.

“I know when I have done a good days work and despite not ridding, I’ll still have kept the weight off and can relax knowing that. But as it is tiring, I will have a few days off before the nationals”.

Richard admits at the time we spoke he hadn’t seen Bank Road but does have some time on it planned ahead of the nationals. “I have a day off so I’ll probably head up and do a training session on it. I’ll be looking for land mark points, driveways, lamp posts and so on so I know in my head where I need to make the final push.”

Last year, his win came on a climb which was a four minute effort, similar to the one last weekend. Bank road though with some very steep sections, is shorter and insiders expect the winning time to go under 2.20. “A two and half minute effort should suit me really well and is probably my preferred distance. Anything longer than four minutes and that’s not the best for me because I’m not the lightest, (70 kg).”

“Bank road should be a power climb”.


Richard’s hill climb bike. Nothing fancy but one that does the job with his legs powering it. “It’s pretty much the same as last year. The pedals are different and lighter and I’ve changed the handlebars but have the same frame and wheels. I haven’t decided what gear I’m going to use yet but that will come after testing the climb”.



Finally, Hill Climbs are not popular with many because quite simply it’s a max effort up a hill and that can result in some serious damage being done to the body! Asked why he likes hill climbs, Richard replies “they are as hard as you make it but if you want to win then it’s going to be really hard!”

“I like winning so that is the attraction. I don’t enjoy them that much or the pressure building up to it, and it’s not nice when you do it, but I quite like the feeling when you finish and have won. Or even if you haven’t won but have done a decent time compared to the other quality riders, it’s still good”.

Good luck to Richard at the Hill Climb championships!




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