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October - Rebecca Richardson

We are well and genuinely mid-way through the hill climb season, and last week I finished three training sessions on the turbo. It wasn’t as hard a decision as I thought it would be. Outside, the wind changed, the temperature fell downwards, and the heavens opened. Arthur says, “I love this time of year. There is no such thing as bad weather, right mum?” Now that turbo is in my life, I can concur, without hesitation, I have switched to indoor riding.


📸 Tony Wood - Monsal HC


This hill climb season, I have been focused on not being too focused. To distract myself from the sharp intense bike sessions, I contrast the time off the bike by deciding to re-paint my kitchen. This is very unusual for me. My friend once said with envy “I wish my house was so basic”. I am not known for splashing out on ornaments, and I am averse to stylising my house and interiors, if my creative side wants to my practical side tells me that it is a waste of time and inconsequential to the ‘real’ stuff in life. But, something has changed this year. Maybe I am growing a little sentimental in my old age and remembering my arty student days when I painted my caravan at the age of 13. These were my ‘rebel’ years, begging my parents to let me move out of home and into the garden. They finally conceded, and I left my family home, moving twenty paces away into the ‘spare room’ caravan in the garden. I never went home.


📸 Tony Wood - Monsal HC


Now I have set myself a task. What started as a pleasurable flick of the paintbrush, seeing a lush dark green gloss alter the look of the crappy off-white dirtied tiles, is now a labour and mental challenge to finish up the job. In Between making breakfast or doing some washing up, I grab the paintbrush and do a few more tiles. I am hoping by the end of this week I will have finished this job, and leave interior decoration for another 15 years.


It is helping distract me from eating cake (the last time I had a slice was the Cycling Podcast interview with Lizzy Banks two weeks ago). Painting is also a distraction from the imminent reality of some of the biggest hill climb races on the calendar. On Sunday I tackled the Monsal Hill Climb, probably the most prestigious race outside of the National Hill Climb, finishing on the podium in third place. The climb is a short effort of under two minutes. I like to have a go at different types of hill climb lengths and gradients, they all offer a fun challenge to me.


Then in two weeks time, mid-week (no less) I will line up to take my turn on the British Time Trial Championships. I feel a bit of a phoney on a TT bike, but again it is fun for me to try something new and I like going to the ‘pain cave’, it is an intriguing and interesting place to be. In the ‘pain cave,’ life and perspective narrow to darkness and nothingness. My head will scream to stop, and I try and relish and expand my head and body to accept the pain. The mental toughness training Liam and I have worked on comes into its element this time of year. Time trialling and hill-climbing are alike in this way.


📸 Tony Wood - Monsal HC


On the Sunday after the British TT (on Thursday) I will line up to race the Welsh Hill Climb Championships on “The Tumble” in South Wales. Then two weeks after this it will be The National Hill Climb on Winnats. How time is flying. I am still waiting for my legs to wake up a bit and start reacting on the climbs, and as each week passes in training I start to feel some freshness and snappiness. Liam always tells me to leave the sharpening up to the end, to aim to reach the main event feeling “on form”. I find micro interval sessions seem to work for me, whilst I struggle with the longer maximal aerobic efforts in training. Each has its purpose as we move towards our performance goals.


So, I have had my morning coffee, written a few words, and am now back to painting for 5 minutes before doing the school run and getting on with work (which today involves checking on a delivery of Oak). Tomorrow I will be back in the ‘pain cave’ before freshening up for the Mam Nick Hill Climb on Saturday.


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