John's #ProjectHillClimb Part 3 - The Climb

When asked to write up a summary of my hill climbs I instinctively thought about the numbers behind all of the hill climbs:

Approximately 136 specific training hours (excluding normal riding, commuting and social rides)

3.5-4kg lost in mass over the course of 6 months (now getting back up a normal weight again)

£££££ in money spent on the bike, on coaching, on a hire car, on entering the events

13 hill climbs ridden

29minutes 56.1 seconds riding uphill competitively

Placing 16th, 34th, 9th, 31st, 22nd, 11th, 7th, 16th, 10th, 14th, 19th and 65th at the National Hill Climb championships

But those numbers don’t really mean too much, not really

What matters is how I feel

I’m really pleased with how I did this year - I wanted to qualify for the National Hill Climbs and I did that

I wanted to give hill climbing a proper go and dedicate myself to it - I definitely did that

At some points I struggled, not with the training but with my results, I wanted to do better at the Urban Hill Climb and I’m still disappointed

As soon as I qualified for the Nationals I wanted a Top 50, I didn’t get there

This hill climb thing has changed my relationship with training, I now have 4 power meters on 4 different bikes - last year I had none

I missed a lot of the social riding when I was deep into the training, it’s made me appreciate just what a bicycle can do and how it can help

It’s changed my relationship with food to a certain extent, I’m not obsessive but I think far more about what I’m eating and how much

It’s made me look at my body in a different way, I saw veins on legs which I hadn’t seen before - I had a feeling of pride but also one of hesitance

And since the last hill climb I haven’t really trained or done much riding,, mentally and physically I wanted and probably needed a break

Not all of this is positive

For me this was a massive undertaking and now it’s over I have been in a bit of mixed emotions, pleased it’s done with, but sad I don’t have this aim anymore

Happy I can ride my bike how I like now, but I do miss some of the structure

What I do know is that the support I got from competitors, friends and even social media strangers was humbling

What I do know is that I pushed my body beyond what it has even been pushed to before

What I do know is that I want to do it all next year

My Grandpa died while I was doing these hill climbs

I found out in a text while I was training on the turbo doing intervals

I told my partner and then carried on into the next set

My grandpa knew about my hill climb ambition

He was a scientist, a man of logic and numbers

But he was full of emotion too

I've loved following John's hill climb season, its been a fascinating reminder of how tough this sport can be both mentally as much as physically. I think hill climb racing is probably the most insane racing discipline within the sport, attracting a select bunch of fans and riders who commit everything to it for months on end, it's one for the purists. If you haven't seen part 1 and 2 go and check them out too in the related posts column on the right. A big thank you to John for letting us tag along on his journey.

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