Round 1 of the BBR Opticians Hill Climb Series saw a big surprise as Tomos Hales took the win ahead of a strong field of 25 riders in Wrekinsport CC’s Willomoor Bank climb. Ramping to 15% at the end, the rolling approach requires tactical prowess as going too hard on the lower slopes can come back to bite as the road turns skywards, whilst going too conservatively can also backfire. Hales won the one mile climb in 3 minutes 40 seconds, taking the huge scalp of the reigning and multiple hill climb champion Kirk Vickers by one second. Hales’ form has been excellent all season, but having won Silver in 2021 he clearly has his eyes on the bigger prize. His comments showed how local knowledge was put to good use: “Ecstatic to win the Wrekinsport hill climb, I’ve been up that climb countless times. I had a very good bottom section and managed to hang on up the steep stuff. Very close with Kirk and got lucky to beat him by a second, I’m just happy to be able to compete with such a class rider. Thanks for Wrekinsport for hosting and everyone that helped out”.

Vickers is unlikely to take things easy in later Series events in this short, sharp season-ending competition and is almost certain to come back all the harder given an unerring ability to push himself to the ragged edge. His comments showed how tricky it can be to judge pacing on the lower slopes correctly: “Always a crucial one to get the pacing right, I saved a lot for the end and had a strong finish. Well done all riders; and Tomos Hales with a strong ride”.

Hill climbing is a discipline where younger riders tend to have an advantage, but you wouldn’t have known it judging by Steven Prince’s ride as he took the Overall win in the over-40’s Veteran’s category as well as third place overall in an excellent 3:55. Prince missed all but one event in 2021 due to suffering from Covid-19 but appears determined to make up for missing out on his preferred discipline in 2022. Like Vickers he saved something for the final lung-bursting effort at the end: “I’ve only done this climb once before in 2018 but remembered the nasty ramp at the end so tried to save a bit for that. I beat my personal best by nearly 15 seconds so a great way to start the season. It was a cracking time by Tomos for the win; and thanks Wrekinsport for hosting and the marshals and timekeepers”.

Taking the maximum 20 Veteran’s points on offer for affiliated riders was Bridgnorth CC’s Scott Palmer with a fine 4:13. Palmer won three events in the Veterans Series in 2021 and knows all about this climb, but his comments echo the difficulty judging exactly how to tackle this switchback course: “Not getting my pacing right on the Wrekin two years ago I tried a different approach, but still too conservative. A personal best nonetheless, but I could have gone better”.

One encouraging sight was the number of females in competition, but with the presence of multiple hill climb course record holder Rebecca Richardson and her amazing string-wheeled Specialized Aethos bike, weighing in at just 4.7kg you could probably have safely bet your house on who the winner was going to be. Richardson was very close to her 2021 effort with a fabulous 4:07, taking fourth spot overall. Richardson is, as usual, using these events as great preparation for a tilt at the National title and stated: “A great evening for racing hills, warm sun and good support on steepest part of the climb, in the ‘death zone’ feeling like a zombie! Thank you to Wrekinsport CC”.

Richardson has risen to National standard after discovering a superb ability riding Shropshire events; and the pull of the short, sharp pain fest was not lost on first-timer Hayley Wells of Paramount CRT, who took the 20 points on offer for affiliated riders with a fine effort of 4:59: “Another new challenge to tackle and dare I say addictive!? Round 1 was about pacing the first two inclines then saving enough for the last kicker! It was fabulous to have riders standing on the final corner encouraging everyone through to empty the tank”!

In the Junior competition Mid Shropshire Wheelers’ Alex Hart nearly had a disaster due to a kit error, but somehow still managed to finish equal 5th in 4:09. He explained: “I made a mistake at Round 1 forgetting my shoes and having to ride in my pumps”! Thankfully despite not having ideal contact with his pedals the youngster still managed to pull an excellent climb out of the bag. 

Full result:

1Tomos HalesWrekinsport CCS3:4020
2Kirk VickersHolohan Coaching RTS3:4118
3Steven PrinceLudlow Brewery RTV3:55.
4Rebecca RichardsonBrother UKW4:07.
5Alex HartMid Shropshire WheelersJ4:0916
5Matthew RedworthMid Shropshire WheelersS4:0916
7Sebastian BaconWolverhampton Wheelers CCS4:10.
8Jack YoungOswestry Paragon CCS4:1312
8Scott PalmerBridgnorth CCV4:1312
10Phil RobertsWrekinsport CCS4:148
11Dean CallisterRevolutions RacingS4:226
12Chris RileyParamount CRTV4:264
13Simon TharszWrekinsport CCS4:282
14Ben WoodWrekinsport CCS4:452
15Neil ColesOswestry Paragon CCV4:472
16Oliver RodwellWrekinsport CCV4:502
17Hayley WellsParamount CRTW4:592
18Andy CollinsMid Shropshire WheelersV5:152
19Emma HorneTelford Tri ClubWV5:23.
20Ashley KirkhamWrekinsport CCV5:342
21Paul CadmanTelford Tri ClubV5:48.
22Matt PriceWrekinsport CCV5:512
23Elliott WillsWrekinsport CCS6:102
24Victoria DoranWrekinsport CCWV7:072
25Jim PercivalWrekinsport CCV7:272


Vets Pos’nNameClubCatTimeVets Points
1Steven PrinceLudlow Brewery RTV3:55.
2Scott PalmerBridgnorth CCV4:1320
3Chris RileyParamount CRTV4:2618
4Neil ColesOswestry Paragon CCV4:4716
5Oliver RodwellWrekinsport CCV4:5014
6Andy CollinsMid Shropshire WheelersV5:1512
7Emma HorneTelford Tri ClubWV5:23.
8Ashley KirkhamWrekinsport CCV5:3410
9Paul CadmanTelford Tri ClubV5:48.
10Matt PriceWrekinsport CCV5:518
11Victoria DoranWrekinsport CCWV7:076
12Jim PercivalWrekinsport CCV7:274


Women’s Pos’nNameClubCatTimeWomen’s Points
1Rebecca RichardsonBrother UKW4:07.
2Hayley WellsParamount CRTW4:5920
3Emma HorneTelford Tri ClubWV5:23.
4Victoria DoranWrekinsport CCWV7:0718


Junior Pos’nNameClubCatTimeJunior Points
1Alex HartMid Shropshire WheelersJ4:0920