National Hill Climb Championship 2000

Sunday 29th October

Promoted by Mendip Cycling Club on Westclose Hill, Somerset

This is what winning the hill climb championship does to your looks After the short Rake course the previous year, the championship was back on a course of a more typical length in 2000. Westclose hill was a little over a mile and, after a gentle start and a few dips early on, had a gradient that was nearly constant at about 10%, but with short sections of up to 16%.
I had never raced the climb before (it had only been used for club events) but I had ridden in the Mendips in a weekend of touring after the national championship in 1998. One of my team-mates from Oxford University was from Street in Somerset and had taken us up Draycott Steep, a brute of a climb which is next to Westclose hill. The organisers of the championship had wanted to use Draycott but problems with access and parking meant that the riders had the easier Westclose hill to contend with instead. Of course the difference is academic, as racing flat-out up a 1:7 feels just as horrible as flat-out up a 1:5!
Being in Somerset, the course was unfamiliar for everyone so I thought it would give me an advantage to do spend as much time on the course as I could before the event. I made a detour to the hill in September on my way to a road race, and for the championship itself travelled down early so I could do my try-out rides on the hill on Friday without tiring my legs out for the race. National Hill Climb Course 2000 - Westclose Hill
It had been very windy and wet overnight and on race day the road was littered with broken branches and gravel. A strong tailwind was still blowing up the hill but it never really made its presence felt until the last third of the course when the riders emerged from the shelter of trees beside the road.
There was plenty of space at the start so I was able to have a good long warmup on the turbo. Riding with a fixed wheel, it was impossible to overdo it early in the course where you climbed in a few small steps with short flat or downhill sections in between and I just had to keep the pedals spinning. The gradient steepening before half way was my signal to press on a bit harder, but I kept a bit back for the windy final third. As I came out of the trees and towards the quarry entrance the wind really seemed to catch me so I let rip and sprinted all the way to the finish.
As joined the queue of recovering riders on the verge beyond the finish, Chris Roy said, "you look a bit white there fella" so I must have tried! I hadn't had any time checks apart from a few shouts of "you're up" so I had a nervous wait till the win was confirmed. After three years of finishing fourth, Tom Anderson took away the silver medal, and Ian Stott also made his first appearance on the podium.
After a couple of pints at the pub in Priddy I started the long journey home. My 2000 season might have ended in the same way as the previous two years, but some things were changing. I was now working full-time, was married with a baby, and it turned out that the hill climb championship was to be my last ride for the Terry Wright Cycles Raleigh Racing Team.

The 2000 top ten

Pos. No. Name Team Time
1 120 Jim Henderson Terry Wright Cycles Raleigh R.T. 5-00.5
2 75 Tom Anderson Holme Valley Wheelers 5-11.9
3 60 Ian Stott Blackburn & District C.T.C. 5-22.7
4 100 Tim Bayley Arctic 2000 5-28.3
5 95 Carl Helliwell Blackburn & District C.T.C. 5-28.8
6 110 Mark Lovatt Pro Vision Planet X 5-29.0
7 80 Alistair Kay York Cycleworks 5-31.5
8 90 Gary Baker Team Angliasport 5-32.7
9 115 Dave Ebbrell Blackburn & District C.T.C. 5-38.8
10 40 Paul Watson Knaresborough R.T. 5-40.1
Team: Blackburn & District C.T.C. 16-19.5; Stott, Helliwell, Ebbrell
Course: START in Rodney Stoke approximately 150 yards from A371 at steel cover 3 yards beyond far gatepost to water station (OS Grid Ref. ST 492498) and FINISH opposite fence post on right level with beacon/underground reservoir.
Length 1979 metres
Height gain 172 metres
Winner average power 452 W

Westclose Hill course profile

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