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Lee's Blog No 5

It's October. Up and down the country, thousands of cyclists are being struck with nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, burning limbs and blurred vision. This is not some weirdly selective early winter virus – all these symptoms are self-inflicted. October is the month for hill climbs and suffering is what hill climbs are all about.

Cycling clubs in the UK traditionally end the racing season by holding hill climbs. A vertical time trial, these races involve groups of riders gathering at the bottom of a hill and then, at one minute intervals, riding up it as fast as they can to see who can set the quickest time. Some of the hills are legendary, with names like Monsal Head or the Rake, names that bring most cyclists out in a cold sweat. It's the absence of the long mountain passes prevalent in the Alps that has given British hill climbs their unique flavour. Short and brutal, they test riders like no other race.

"A good hill climb has to be no longer than two miles, and steep, very steep" says Simon Warren, author of 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs.

"It needs a corner, maybe some geographical drama for a backdrop and most importantly, it must attract a large crowd of spectators, there's no joy in suffering in silence."

Those crowds generally flock to the better known hills for "open" events. These races attract large fields of up to 150 riders to compete for cash prizes. For amateur riders, the special atmosphere of these events is perhaps their only chance to get a feel of what the professionals experience on the famous climbs of the Tour de France. Spectators line the road, sometimes up to three deep, screaming encouragement to all competitors.

The Cycling Time Trials website lists 70 open events in 2011, 49 of them in October. The National Hill Climb at the end of the month is the biggest draw, featuring the cream of British climbing talent.

In 1998, 2000, 2001 & 2003 Jim Henderson was crowned the RTTC National Hill Climb Champion, riding on a pair of petematthews.com wheels and a Pianni Frame exclusively made and designed by Pete Matthews.

 jim-henderson-rake-b-muir

Good Luck to all the competitors riding this years event, and remember....If you need that special pair of light, strong hand built custom wheels for your next event,Petematthews.com is the only website to visit.

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