2015 Report

The 3rd annual running of the Raj Soni Hill climb challenge took place again today on the Mendip hills in glorious sunshine with 13 riders taking on the double challenge of Blagdon & then Burrington Combe to crown the 2015 Club hill climb champion.

With the reigning champion, Matthew cox away on Regional race duty in Nottingham the contest to take the crown was going to be an interesting affair for this year’s race. Especially with a big turnout form our new members supporting the event for the first time. Unlike last year the sun was out and the temperature was on the rise which lead to a number of discussions about what clothing would be required on the short but very steep Blagdon hill.

The clubs coaches were on hand to offer advice and words of encouragement to the riders before they set off one from one to tackle the demanding stage 1 in front of a healthy number of family supporters who cheered each rider up the climb.

Stage 1 starts very steeply maintaining a steep gradient for the first third of the climb before levelling out and then a long and gradually intensifying rise all the way to the top. The trick is not too go too hard on the first section but increase the effort gradually as riders do in a pursuit style effort on the Track.

The riders wouldn’t have noticed but the race had a fantastic backdrop as the clear weather gave impressive views across the Chew valley and the Bristol Chanel.

At the top as riders recovered from the effort Diane Marshall was calculating the riders times who set off at 1min intervals to declare that one of our newer members George Bazely had stormed the climb in just over 6mins carrying over a minutes advantage over second placed Danny King with Joe Williams just 1 sec further back in third place.

The riders then descended the combe to stop and refuel at Burrington café before tacking stage 2 up the combe.

With refuelling complete the riders were set off in reverse order from stage 1’s results meaning riders had the chance to hunt down the riders who could challenge their place from the earlier ride. One by one each rider set out from opposite the Rock of Ages in the Combe on the shallower but much longer climb of 3 miles to the top. Conditions remained good in the combe with a very light breeze, enough to cool the riders but not hinder speed on the climb. From the start it was clear a number of riders were feeling drained after the first stage or perhaps wishing they hadndt gone for quite such a big piece of cake in the café as they shot off up the climb.

At the halfway point the climb levels off before rising in 2 big steps towards the line, A number of riders had misjudged their efforts and these large "steps” caused some greif to the riders as they struggled to turn the gear over to the top. Danny King who was sat in 2nd place was obviously suffering as he was losing time on the other riders around him. Joe Williams was also in a spot of bother and loosing time with Roy really at home on this second climb and setting a great pace.

Last man off George had caught Danny and was closing in on Joe, he continued to drive on for the line, impressively picking up the speed on the final rise to the line for a thoroughly deserved second stage win in an impressive time of 9:31.

The riders then headed back down the climb to the presentation at the start line where George was presented with the trophy to keep for the year by Jeff Coast.

Roy’s efforts on stage 2 had elevated him into 2nd place while the battle for 3rd had come down to just 3 seconds that separated Joe from Danny who was able to overhaul the deficient from stage 1.

Special note to Young Hayden Thomas who abandoned stage 1 after going a little too deep on the first stage to hop back on and battle all the way up stage 2 to complete the second stage.

It was fantastic to see so many of our new members take up the challenge and to have parents and supporters cheering on each rider up the climb. The event also helped raise £50 for the Raj Soni Legacy Trust thanks to the donations from riders. We’re sure Raj would have been suitably impressed by everyone’s efforts on the climbs.

See you all next year.

All hail King George!

Full results HERE