Speed Hill Climbing

This is not to be confused with freak hill climbing where you first find a cliff or similar and try to get up it on a bike. Speed hill climbing involves a standing start run over a known distance just like a sprint; however it is held over a course with bends and obviously the course rises often quite considerably.

I entered my first hillclimb on June 15th 1974 although I had often thought of entering before. The event was to be held in Norfolk Park, Sheffield, which is only some five miles from where I now live.

My two trusty friends Phil and Dave came up the day before to see. Phil would have had a go himself but his Ducati wasn't quite ready. They helped me check the venom over and change the gearing. After a meal and a run out to a country pub (test purposes don't you know) we went to bed intending to get up early enough to be there for scrutineering.

Surprising enough we did manage to get up early enough. Upon our arrival we were sent to the paddock where everything was removed that wasn't needed including such accessories as lights, fairing and front mudguard.

Scrutineering and signing on took no more than five minutes and was more a formality than anything else. After a wait I had my first practice run. I had a slight idea of where the course ran but had never actually ridden over it before and so my first run was rather slow. After the short start straight the road turned to the left with a corner of varying radius and continuing to a sharp righthand hairpin. From here there was a gentle left hander to the undulating finish straight.

For my second practice run I fitted a megaphone. It was very noisy and seemed to give more go and so I kept it on. Since all seemed well we went for a drink and returned in time for the first timed run.

I was number ten and was in the unlimited solos class. My first run started well and although I seemed to be going quite quickly I thought that people used to hillclimbs would be much quicker. I was surprised to find that although the quick ones were loads faster than me the slow ones were far more numerous. After about the first ten runs I was still the third fastest. At the end of everyone's first runs I was completely lost as to my position.

We watched some of the others doing their runs and had a good laugh at the Morgans and threewheelers. Then it was my turn again. This run did not seem any better than the first but after I had stopped in the paddock Dave and Phil came up grinning and telling me that I had clocked up 31 seconds for the run; and that with me saying I could not go any quicker.

We reassembled the bike thinking what a good sport this hillclimbing is. Since the meeting I have entered other climbs in the North of England and I even have Phil threatening to enter the Ducati in the 1975 event at Sheffield. As far as spectating is concerned then the sport must rate highly with a large variety of different machines being pressed into service.


Dave Scrivens