Nearly 70 riders signed on in Glendalough yesterday morning for the National Hill Climb Championships 2012, organised by Cycleways CC. There were a number of fine results from the Orwell riders, and best of the lot was Rachel Glendon who came home first of the ladies to grab the top prize. There was no official title awarded by CI, but that won't stop us from crowning her National Hill Climb Champ 2012!

The day started with a 'friendly' challenge event that set off from a gloriously sunny morning in Glendalough, and culminated in a two-up sprint for first in the mist and fog atop Turlough Hill. Those weather conditions were to remain as the riders taking part in the championship set off, beginning with A4s, then women, then a mixture of the higher categories, along with the juniors.

There were Orwellians competing in nearly every category, though Leinster Hill Climb Champion Brian Ahern had to abandon due to illness. That left nine club riders, three of those aiming for the women's title, including Rachel - the other half of the Dream Team that so firmly conquered the Leinster Hill Climb Championship. Also racing was Orwellian Michelle Geoghegan, in the colours of her UCI team Steeds Vooram. With such a large club contingent, a couple of subversives took the opportunity to scrawl messages of support on Turlough Hill in environmentally-friendly chalk. At Orwell, we care.

When the time came, Rachel delivered the goods, blazing up the Wicklow Gap like it was a descent, and climbing Turlough Hill with a speed normally reserved for F1 drivers. She overtook her unfortunate minute woman, but did not quite catch the next rider, Michelle Geoghegan (Steeds Vooraan/Orwell). Geoghegan took silver, beaten into second by 17 seconds. Glendon's winning time was clocked at 32'49". Geoghegan, who is recovering from an operation on her legs, crossed the line at 33'06", meaning Orwell women took the top two spots. Third places was Amy Brice (Phoenix CC) with 35'01".

Glendon had many people to thank - Aidan Collins, Tom Blennerhassett, Diarmuid Collins and Trish Buckley for help and support on the day. The Dream Team may not have been in action at the event due to Ahern's unfortunately timed illness, but was a source of great inspiration during the lead-up to the day. She also credited support throughout the year from all the Orwell ladies past and present - especially Orla Hendron, Aideen Collard and Caroline Martinez. There have been so many messages from too many people to mention, but no message was forgotten and all are treasured!

The overall competition was won by Ryan Sherlock of the hosting club in a blistering time of 25'07". Top finisher of the Orwells was Brian McArdle in 7th overall with a time of 27'54". Although no prizes were given for individual categories, he can consider himself National A3 HC Champ. Indeed, the result put him ahead of several higher cat riders. This meant it was a bittersweet result for McArdle, but he was happy with how he rode, giving full credit to his soigneur Mr Declan Quigley, and a heartfelt thank you to Patrick O'Brien for supplying a bike at the last minute.

With a testing 10km long course, and an average gradient of 5.5%, any rider who competed in this year's Hill Climb should be proud to be on the results sheet, what ever place they may have finished. But today will always be remembered as the day the golden-haired Glendon completed the full set of Club, Provincial and National Hill Climb titles. A magnificent end to a superb season.

Results below the photos.

The Race Face
The Race Face (photo courtesy of Gert Conradie)

Glendon receiving her prize from Cycleways

More of Gert's dramatic photos of riders emerging from the mist are available here.



1 Ryan Sherlock (Cycleways CC) 25.07
2 Anthony Walsh (Apoge Super) 26.36
3 Greg Swinand (Usher Irish Road Club) 26.51

1 Ryan Sherlock (Cycleways CC) 25.07
2 Anthony Walsh (Apoge Super) 25.36
3 Colm Turner (West Clare CC) 27.04

1 Rachel Glendon (DTC Orwell Wheelers CC) 32.49
2 Michelle Geoghegan (Steeds Vooram) 33.06
3 Amy Brice (Phoienix CC) 35.01

1 Danny Bruton (DID Dunboyne CC) 27.44
2 Mickey Moriarty (Tralee CC) 33.20
3 Luke Gillespie (Naas CC) 35.35

1 Greg Swinand (Usher Irish Road Club) 26.51
2 Frank Billinghs (Stagg Cycles Lucan CC) 28.14
3 Michael Jordan (EPIC) 29.38

7 Brian McArdle (Orwell) 27.54.93
14 Eric Downey (Orwell) 28.43.36
29 Fionn Griffin (Orwell) 31.30.20
39 Rachel Glendon (Orwell) 32.49.81 (1st Woman)
40 Edward O’Mahony (Orwell) 33.00.01
41 Michelle Geoghegan (Steeds Vooraan) 33.06.93 (2nd W)
42 Darren O’Toole (Orwell) 33.11.68
50 Greg O’Donnell (Orwell) 33.56.46
66 Isabel Cogan (Orwell) 38.45.48 (7th W)
68 Emma Convey (Orwell) 43.04.99 (8th W)

Full results available at the Hill Climb page.