It's October and hill climb season is in full swing in the UK. Racing up short, steep climbs is intensely painful, which means they are usually great spectator events. Not much fun to ride unless you enjoy a lot of pain, but at least they are over very quickly.
The inaugural VC Walcot hill climb took place on 4 October in Bath, a city well known for its climbs and climbers. Multiple national hill climb champion James Dobbin lives there, as does Rob Gough who is lightning quick over short distance climbs. The Walcot event was almost literally right up their street and they both rode it, with Rob (2'43) getting the better of James (2'48) over the approximately 1,000m/10 percent ascent (top 10 in our weekly time trial round-up).
Seeing as it was also just up the road from Future Towers, a couple of us entered: myself and Triathlon Plus editor Elizabeth Hufton. Our editor-in-chief, John Stevenson, had made loud noises about us "all" doing it but was mysteriously absent from the start sheet. Next year John, next year...
VC Walcot really turned it on in the organisational and support stakes. Besides the plethora of marshals on the course, they had a large number of club members cheering and beating saucepans at strategic intervals. Not only does this help take your mind off the pain, it also creates a special atmosphere.
Fortunately, VC Walcot had someone in their ranks to capture that atmosphere. Tim Holsgrove, an engineering student and a cyclist, is also a keen photographer. He's taken thousands of images of life in Bath (if you're in town you can see them on display opposite the Bath Thermae Spa) and the hill climb gave him a special opportunity.
Tim told us: "I wanted to photograph the event because I am quite interested in capturing the raw emotion and to an extent the pain we put ourselves through in competitive sport.
"Hill climbing is quite a good event to do this with as it is very easy to get very close to the riders as they give everything they have over the short and often dramatically steep course.
"The way I took the close-up photographs works well to emphasise people's expressions and by getting as close as possible I aim to allow the viewer to gain a greater understanding of what the rider is going through.
"The reason I chose that hill climb in particular is because I have ridden with the club and know a lot of the club members, as well as it being local to where I live in Bath."
Here's the result:
VC Walcot members prepare the course
Signing on in the Sulis Club
Helen Bennett pushes herself through the pain barrier
The cheers help cloud the pain
Ex national hill climb champ James Dobbin was the only other rider to break three minutes
The time keepers have to be on the ball, as events like this are often decided by tiny margins
Finish: Results and flapjacks