Autumn is the time when clubs up and down the country find the steepest hill they can and see who can ride up it the fastest in one lung-busting, all-out effort.
Local to us is the Catford CC hill climb, famous as the oldest continuously run cycle race in the world. 80+ metres of height gain in just 600 metres of road, steepening to 25% near the top. Spectators gather on both sides of the narrow lane to ring cow bells and yell their encouragement as the riders ascend; it’s the closest feeling any of us is likely to get to a grand tour mountain-top finish. Penge CC is usually well represented and some of the regular Sunday rides will take a detour to Yorks Hill for anyone who fancies witnessing the pain up close. The Bec Hill climb is usually the same day, a few hours later.
Penge CC Hill Climb – 2020 date to be set
A regular feature in the Penge CC calendar, is our own Hill Climb takes place on a Sunday in September or October on the traffic-free Old Polhill. The date is announced well in advance. This fun event attracts riders from all parts of the club and is a great chance for everyone to challenge gravity and the clock no matter how long they think it might take to reach the top.
How to enter
The first riders set off from 10:00 a.m. It’s free to enter and there’s no need to sign-up in advance; just turn up, collect a race number and ride. You don’t even have to miss out on your Sunday ride, because we just divert the routes to encompass the event.
Around 800m long, with an 8% average gradient, it has a couple of hairpin corners and even a tunnel. It follows the route of Old Polhill, an old road now completely closed to traffic. The surface is a bit rough in places, so it’s authentic. Hill Climbs are supposed to be a bit sketchy.
Who is it for?
Anyone who rides with Penge can do this, it is truly an event for all abilities. Hills always hurt a bit, especially if you push yourself hard but in a couple of minutes you’ll be at the top smiling for the camera. Guaranteed.
How to get there
The regular Sunday morning rides divert via Old Polhill on the day. We stagger the rides slightly, so we don’t all arrive together. You can make your own way there and meet at the clearing at bottom of the hill for 10:00am. It’s accessed through the gate near the railway bridge on Filston Lane, south of Shoreham. Parking is available in the lay-by on the A224 Polhill, just south of Otford Lane. The top of the hill is just north of the lay-by. You can see the detail on this map.
Be extremely careful if you cycle down the hill. The surface may be slippery and be aware of riders coming up the hill, particularly in the tunnel.
To make the event possible, we always need volunteers. On the Saturday before, we sweep the course of leaves and debris. On the day, we need 2 timekeepers and someone to sign-on the riders. A call for volunteers will go out in good time for the event.
What to expect
Hill Climbs are supposed to be a short sprint. If you watch the pros, they strip all the extraneous weight from themselves and the bike and give it everything. You can do that if you want, but it’s up to you. Here are some tips:
- Warm your legs up before setting off. Particularly if you have been waiting around for a bit
- Don’t go crazy at the start, try to pace yourself evenly
- Slow before the bends and be in the right gear to accelerate out of them
- Take it easy in the tunnel and pick your line carefully out of it
- A bright light will help in the tunnel
- Even if you take it easy, gurn convincingly for the camera at the top
Records and results
- Course record (Men) James Marshall – 00:02:22 – 2016
- Course record (Women) Emma Porter – 00:03:04 – 2017
- Course record (Youth) George Harding – 00:03:44 – 2016
- 2019 Hill Climb Results
- (Men) Ben Millard – 00:02:28
- (Women) Helen Proudlove – 00:03:48
- 2017 Hill Climb results
- (Men) Tim Jones – 00:02:24
- (Women) Emma Porter – 00:03:04
- 2016 Hill climb results
- (Men) James Marshall – 00:02:22
- (Women) Aimi Plant – 00:03:40
- 2015 Hill climb results
- (Men) John Bell – 00:02:42
- (Women) Emma Porter – 00:03:11