The Hills are alive with the sound of… cyclists puffing and panting their way up some more or less steep incline! It must be the hill climb season!

Every Saturday and/or Sunday from mid-September to the end of October gives a select (not everybody can face the pain) group of keen guys and gals in lycra the opportunity to suffer intensely for anywhere between 3 to 20 minutes. Just as any other time trial you warm up, get to the start, someone holds you upright for 30 seconds and off you go as fast as you can up the respective hill. If you don’t feel quite ill when you get to the top you haven’t tried hard enough.

This exclusively British pursuit (no other European country features quite the same geography to make this possible) culminates in the National Hill Climb Championships at the end of October. In order to be allowed to this highly oversubscribed event, it is necessary to put oneself through as many “open” events as possible, which may include the Porlock Toll Road, Haytor, Widdecombe, Barrington Combe and a number of others. As for the committed hill climber this is not nearly enough, most local clubs organise club hill climbs, 1st Chard Wheelers Yarcombe is one of them, Sid Valley organises the feared Peak Hill and then there is the short and sharp Ham Hill by Yeovil CC amongst others.

Open events need to be entered two weeks in advance through the CTT website, for club events you usually just turn up, enter and ride. Entry fees vary from £25 for the National HC Champs to £3 for club events and anything in between.

Some events such as as Porlock have generous prize money on offer (which is why you get the likes of Dan Evans and Maryka Sennema turn up), others reward you with a wet handshake!

If you are really serious you have a special hill climbing bike, but as a minimum you strip your bike back to the bare necessities (this includes riding a fixie for some) and if you are a senior rider this might be the only time on a bike you need not wear a helmet. (If you are extremely well organised you deposit a helmet and a coat at the finish for the ride back down!)

And that’s all there is to it – what’s stopping you?

Contact: Nigel Ware on nigel.ware@araymond.com