What did you do with your bank holiday weekend? I spent mine, along with another seventy or so nutcases, riding repeatedly up the famous Tumble climb in South Wales as part of the Tumble Up 4 Life event.
The challenge is immense – each climb and descent in total is little more than nine miles long but rises over 1500 feet. That means clocking over 22 500 feet of climbing in a 135 mile day if you achieve the maximum fifteen ascents.
The top of the hill saw squally showers through the morning, with a spiteful wind blowing down the valley all day long. Fortunately, the summit of every climb was met with enthusiastic support at race control, which made coming back much easier.
Unsure what to expect, I was surprised when my first three climbs were on schedule for doing all fifteen – but my pace soon dropped. I wouldn’t say it was painful, as I was pacing myself to a level that wouldn’t spell disaster.
Instead it was more like the “rurr-rurr-rurr” of a slowly dying battery as you try to start the car on a winter morning. Even just grinding my way up, I slowly ran out of legs. It wasn’t that they hurt, they just wouldn’t turn the pedals anymore. So I had to bale on eight.
Nathan Priest (13 climbs) and Nick Wachter (14) came achingly close to completing the full set, but as has been the case during the previous two events, only one rider was able to sign off the maximum fifteen. For 2013, that rider was Lawrence Gruijters.
Make no mistake, this event is a massive challenge – although the fantastic descent almost makes up for the endless upwards toil of the climb.
If you want to try and add your name to the small number who’ve completed the challenge, the 2014 event is scheduled for the 3rd of May.
Keep an eye on http://tumbleup4life.wordpress.com/ for details.