The Grand Tours are over, the racing season is finished and the stubble is starting to grow back on your legs.
Step forward two of the best events in the British hill climbing calendar – the famous Catford and Bec Hill Climbs on Sunday October 10.
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First raced in 1887, the Catford Hill Climb is billed as ‘the oldest continuing cycle race in the world’.
It’s a classic event that everybody with an unhealthy interest in cycling should ride, and those on a slightly more even keel should go along to witness the suffering.
First things first, the climb isn’t actually in Catford.
After moving around various locations early in the 20th century, Catford Cycling Club finally settled upon Yorks Hill near Sevenoaks, Kent, and this year will mark the 70th anniversary of its first visit.
It’s only 707m long but this twisting climb is savagely steep, with an average gradient of 12.5% including two stretches of 25%.
You’ll be doing well not to topple over, let alone race.
Max Pendleton, father of Olympic and World track champion Victoria, former record holder and eight-time race winner, said: “I always liked Yorks as a hill to race up. The Catford was and still is I think the equivalent of a South of England Hill Climb Championship.”
The atmosphere is always superb. The final metres will be lined three deep with screaming supporters driving you to the finish, just at the moment that your legs are pleading for mercy.
This is genuinely the closest that most of us will get to racing Contador up the Tourmalet.
Take a look at some of the epic footage on YouTube and get your entry in before you’ve had a chance to think about the lung bursting consequences.
Spectators will get to see last year’s surprise winner Robert Gough (Chippenham & District Wheelers) up against some pros with serious pedigree.
2009 national road race champion Kristian House and his Rapha Condor Sharp team-mates will be looking to break Phil Mason’s incredible 27-year-old record of 1min 47.6secs.
Once you’ve got yourself out of bed on Sunday morning and cheered on the Catford climbers then you may as well make the six-mile journey along to Limpsfield, Surrey, for the Bec CC Hill Climb in the afternoon.
That’s what Catford winner Robert Gough did last year. He finished second on White Lane’s rough surfaces behind Team Milton Keynes’ Michael Leonard Smith’s winning time of 1 min 46.3 secs.
Like Catford, the Bec is a short and explosive climb with the event website describing it as “700 yards of pure adrenaline-fuelled pain.”
If you’re riding Catford and Bec, you can’t say we didn’t warn you.
If you’re spectating, we defy you not to have a great day.
Entries for the Catford Hill Climb close October 1
Entries for the Bec climb close September 28