Sep 18, 2013 Mel's Hill Climb Challenge It's been a month now since we launched the #MamnickChallenge incentive and I've been overwhelmed by the response via both both social media and emails, people sharing their photos and stories both on and off the bike. Since the domestic cycling season is almost over and the regional Hill Climbs start, here's a fitting piece that Melanie Armstrong sent me regarding her own challenge. Rather you than me Mel! _____________________________________________________________________ July 2013 marked my third year of cycling. Each year I have tried to set a goal / challenge of some sort and this year I thought I would enter some hill climb time trials. Last Sunday saw me trying the first of the year, long hill 4.4 miles with a steady average gradient of 3.3%. As Dan and I set off, I could not help but question all my training, had it been enough? Had I really put the effort in every session? No backing out now, there was no point wondering, just be in the moment. On arrival I suddenly felt intimidated, findingmyself in a sea of top end, stupidly expensive carbon bikes, with Zipp wheels as standard. My aluminium frame appeared heavy and cumbersome in contrast to their plastic fantastic steeds. After checking over Tracey (my bike) it was warm up time. This is a critical part of any TT and the car park was a buzz with the sound of rollers and turbo trainers kicking into life. Riders were generally sporting overly large head phones, lost in their own world of power ballads. I opted for a 5 minute ride round the streets, but found all the nervous energy had left me feeling ravenous. Heading back to the car park I sat in the car eating a cheese sandwich with my legs dangling in the sunshine; not sure this constitutes as a professional warm-up but it did the trick for me. Before I knew it my time had come. The moment I had feared the most was before me, the dreaded clipped in track start. As I lifted my foot of the ground I panicked, wobbled, but I need not have feared because the marshal was great. Off I went, there may have been some great views but I could not see them. All my awareness was focused on the two metres of tarmac in front of me. The only noise was my heavy laboured breathing, with little thought other than ‘keep a good pace don’t blow up.’ Just as my heart was bursting, my lungs aching and a rising panic that this hill was never going to end, the finish came into view (thank Christ). Up a couple of gears and kick for the line and that was it, my first hill climb was over. My emotions change to elation with a feeling of being punched solidly in the chest….. Bring on the next hill climb. ____________________________________________________________________ Thanks Mel. If you'd like to share with me your #MamnickChallenge, just drop me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org .