Members of the Lewes Wanderers Cycling Club had a spectacularly tough weekend racing in local hill climb challenges.
Events kicked off on Saturday with the Brighton Mitre double header, with the morning climb revisiting the notorious Stenying Bostal, to be followed by the longer climb up Mill Hill in the afternoon.
The weather was the only pleasant experience of the day as riders dug deep to distil the last vestige of energy as they pushed themselves to the absolute and extreme limit of pain and effort.
Jamie Lowden put in a splendid performance finishing in fourth spot with a time of 4:13.0, some twelve seconds behind Jack Beezer of Edinburgh RC who recorded a time of 4:01.6. Other Lewes times on the day were Sholto Haggart (4:21.3), Dominic Lowden (5:15.6), Mark Paton (5:45.1); Peter Kilby (5:49.2) with his 14 year old son Jacob (7:23.4) completing the line-up.
Competitors had a few hours to recharge their batteries before climbing Mill Hill, the gentler gradient being offset by the climb being over twice the distance of the Bostal.
Jamie Lowden replicated his morning ride to come home fourth in a time of 8:25.0. Young Jacob Kilby completed his ride in 12:27.7 with his dad recording 11:03.3. Jamie’s dad, Dom continued the father son theme to record a time of 10:14.4. The event was won by Conal Yates of In-Gear in a time of 7:54.03.
These Saturday rides were somewhat of a pre-taster for Sunday’s big climbing spectacles of the Catford and Bec Hill climbs. The Catford event is reported to be the oldest continually staged cycle event in the world and celebrated its 118th running this year. Packed crowds line the claustrophobic narrow tree-lined ascent, which winds its way up a tortuously steep and leaf encrusted country lane with gradients touching an agonising 25% in places. The weather had turned foul on the day and the lashing rain compounded the difficulty of the climb as riders searched for grip on the sodden roads.
The stunning news for the Lewes team was that Jamie Lowden finished in an incredible third place (2:02.1) in a full field consisting of some of the premier hill climb specialists in the UK. Other Lewes times were Patrick Hough (2:18) and the game Dom Lowden (03:07). The overall winner was Matthew Pilkinton riding for the splendidly named team of Metaltek-Knights of Old (1:59.03).
The final leg of the four-hill odyssey ended with the Bec Hill climb, an equally vicious ascent ridden against a backdrop of teeming rain, which hammered down relentlessly on the throng of steaming spectators who cajoled every rider towards the elusive finishing line. Jamie Lowden, understandably running a little out of steam, managed a top ten finish in a time of 2:03.6 followed by proud father Dominic who completed his four-hill marathon with a creditable time of 2:50.5.
The hill-climbing season ends for most Wanderers this Sunday with the running of the ESCA hill climb at Firle Beacon.
More details of all these events and other club activities can be found at www.leweswanderers.co.uk
Report by Alan Lloyd