I was reluctant to enter the Imps Hill Climb this year, as I knew that, unlike most of my Imps peers, I was not as fast as I was the previous year. I was worried about posting an abysmal time and feeling poorly in the process. However, the night before the entries closed, I had a sudden change of heart where I thought to myself “go and do your best and have a laugh”. So I entered. And I’m glad I did.
The hill climb was again organised by Graham Ellis who, along with his helpful marshals, made for a professional outfit. Again, this year’s event was mentioned in Cycling Weekly and billed as one of the hard hill climbs – of course – they’re all hard. The HQ was at the Lord Nelson pub – the same as last year but with different owners. The sun was out and it was past noon, so it was very difficult for us famously thirsty Imps to resist a pre-climb beer. However, as far as I know, we all did. Even though Hoppy was there supping away in the sunshine.
The Manns were there to man the fort (excuse the pun) dishing out the race numbers. I was told how to wear it by the now experienced TT rider Brabbin, and we all went outside to pootle round and eye up the competition and the bike porn.
There were 10 Imps riding, first off was Reid, and last off was Gary. In the middle was Sarah, Graham Lloyd, Paul, Nikola, Ian, yours truly, Tom, Lewis, and Gaz. Neil was “pusher offer” as Andrew was feared to vomit or cough on people, so he took pictures instead. I went for a quick spin up half of Halifax lane and then cycled myself to the start point at a pedestrian rate.
At 34 minutes past the hour I set off. There was a family out in their garden on the first part of the climb who seemed to be getting into it, cheering me on. I’m sure I wouldn’t have looked like I was in the race but for my number pinned on! After this I had silence until the hairpins, I felt like I hadn’t warmed up very well and I found it difficult to find my rhythm. There was some well –meaning goading at the bends and Vic and Gadget rung a cow bell. More photos were taken, obviously showing me in my finest sweaty, red moments. The second hairpin was followed by a slog and then it “eases off” so you can “sprint” for the finish. Tom then passed me, looking reasonably comfortable from where I was sitting. Obviously I crawled up at nearly walking pace, breathlessly chatting to people as I went up and getting a bollocking for it.
As soon as I got to the top, I asked for my beer which had been taken up for me by Lewis’s parents. I sat down and supped and cheered the remaining riders over the line. Already there when I arrived were the now partly recovered figures of those Imps listed above, save for Lewis and Gary. Gary came over the line looking remarkably composed considering the time he posted – though Sarah tells me he dropped his bike on the floor and doesn’t remember it! Then came the distinctive figure of a 6’7 man grimacing his way to the top and we all feared the worse – It was Lewis, and he was trying – would be all get covered in vomit? Luckily for us, although he was spent, he managed to gain composure eventually after a stroll round the graveyard. I think his words were “all too familiar”.
We then assembled in the pub for malted recovery beverages and lots of chat about pain. As far as I know, every other Imp posted a better time than last year – which is fantastic stuff – I blame my Imps coloured nail varnish for weighing me down. There were some ridiculously fast times. I believe fastest Imps man was about 6 ½ minutes and fastest lady around the 7.40 mark. The overall winner got a sub 5 minute time and fastest lady was about 7.10. I daren’t post actual times for fear I will get them wrong – so if you want details, I’m sure the result sheet will be posted soon!
Thanks to all involved, and in particular Graham, for another successful event.