Keeping up the pre-event excitement (or nerves, depending on whether you’re taking part or not), here’s a great interview by Max Leonard (author of Fixed and an all-round bike dude) with cycling wonderkid Germain Burton, who has a great record on the UHC event and is making a name for himself as one to watch.
I like riding hill climbs because I’m quite good at them. I’m suited to short steep hill climbs like White Lane [the site of the Bec CC climb], and Swain’s Lane is pretty similar – they’re short, hard efforts. The atmosphere’s always brilliant and it’s different to the average race, it gives you that extra bit of adrenaline.
I didn’t know what to expect at last year’s Rollapaluza urban hill climb. I knew I’d do fairly well, but when my time was standing for a while I started to believe I might win it. Then it got knocked off in the last minute! But I was pretty pleased with being only a second off the winner. This year, we’ll see how it goes.
When I won Bec CC hill climb last year, I’d been training specifically for it – it’s at a time of year when there’s no other races on. The Rollapaluza hill climb last year I had to fit into my racing programme. It was in the week leading up to the national youth circuit race championships, so I was race fit but I hadn’t done any specific hill training as such. The national champs are also the weekend after this year.
It’s difficult to share any tactics for hill climbing. Just go for it I suppose. Just give everything off the start line and don’t hold anything back. Make sure you’re completely smashed when you cross the line. That’s all I can really say – there’s no tactics involved as such, just completely smash it!
I’m racing two, three, possibly four times a week – which means that I don’t really have to go out training at the moment. Just a couple of spins to keep my legs turning.
This time last year I hadn’t been racing abroad. Now,I’ve been racing in Belgium a few times. It’s pretty different over there, good for your development as a rider, whether you’re a youth, or a senior racing at a high level. It’s tough, it takes a few races to get used to, because it’s so aggressive. It’s a different style of racing: you have to be able to move through the bunch, and it can get difficult because some of the roads they choose are very narrow compared with the circuits I race here.
I’ve just finished my GCSEs. I feel more relaxed about racing now – it was a bit intense before then fitting everything in, trying to get the work done and not disappointing people at school. It’s hard to tell people all the time you’re training or racing. But I worked hard and I feel pretty confident about my exams.
Now I’m concentrating on riding well as a junior. This year I’m still a youth, so it’s for a sense of personal achievement rather than where the results can actually get me. It matters more to do well as a junior. The distances are longer and the courses are more challenging, and there’s a better selection of riders at the finish so it’s harder to do well. In the next year I’d like to do well at a national level and hopefully ride some international races, to see what I can do.
My Dad is the only person I take coaching advice from. I’m not on the British Cycling talent team at the moment. I’m yet to decide if I’m going to apply to the Olympic Development Programme for next year. It seems to be working pretty well!
What inspires me about him is that it was so hard for him, it puts things in perspective. It makes you want to make the most of what you have. Generally it was harder, opportunities and funding weren’t there for young riders as they are now, and there’s more interest in the sport. Now you see British riders doing well on the World Tour, and breaking through into the professional ranks on a fairly regular basis. It inspires you, gives you more incentive – it could be there for the taking if you’ve got the talent and put in the effort.