The Hovis Gold Hill Honk was run in conjunction with the Gold Hill Shootout urban downhill earlier in the day. The hill climb took place up Gold Hill, the cobbled climb in Shaftesbury where the famous Hovis television advert was filmed in the 70s. The climb itself is not long, but the second half is Victorian cobbled and incredibly steep.
On a day where it was pouring with rain, over 50 starters lined up to take part in a competition. Our aim was to win 52 loaves of Hovis.
We weren't allowed on the course prior to our runs, so local knowledge was a definite advantage. With zero chance of a warm up, and no practice runs, all I had to rely on was walking down, then back up the course. With the previous night's Nocturne still in my legs I didn't feel great as I got given the 30 seconds to go, not to mention the rain. Not knowing how to pace myself I held back a touch on the lower tarmac section and then tried to be as smooth as possible over the cobbles. I've ridden a lot of cobbles before but in trying to climb a 1 in 4 section it was nigh on impossible to point the bike in the right direction! Everything was bouncing everywhere and it was all I could do to steer myself up into the corner, missing the gulley which I'd seen someone come a cropper on, and then up the alleyway to the finish line.
I was pleasantly surprised to find myself perched joint first after my first run and the top 13 were then offered the chance to go again with the best time counting. Jimmy from MuleBar had provided the prizes, had sorted my entry and was on hand taking photos and uploading to their blog. We both wanted better shots so I had to go again.
Another soaking on the descent to the start dashed any hopes of getting or staying warmed up. With the benefit of hindsight, I gave it everything I had from the gun and within 10 seconds was starting to struggle as I hit the cobbles. Once again, everything bounced everywhere and I struggled for traction as my wheels lost contact with the ground. I felt rougher up the pave and tried not to stall but keep the power down until the end.
In the end, two local riders pipped me. Second place got me by 0.4sec and the winner by 2 clear seconds. This is my second 3rd this year in short hill climb events and with that in mind I seem to have found my niche...