It's been a long time since Redhill CC had a rider on a podium at the prestigious Bec CC annual Hill Climb. On Sunday, the only RCC rider - 16 year old Sevi Webb - ascended the infamous White Lane in 2:10.8 to take third prize in the high quality junior competition.
The weather condiditon were just about perfect. The road had dried out and been swept, it was still and a lovely temperature. On the day 150 riders were down to ascend but there were nearly 20 no shows.
Sevi set off as rider number 41 having only climbed the hill once previously. Of the riders before him, only one had gone under 2:10 - a rider from Oxford University Cycling Club. So when he crossed the line, Sevi's was the second quickest time and only fell to third quickest after over 60 riders.
It was then that two prodigious junior talents - Edmond Bishop of VC Meudon and Harvey Weinberger of G.S. Henley, who recorded 1:51.5 and 1:56.2 respectively - took the top two slots in the Junior stakes. Edmond's time powered him to third place in the overall competition.
As the last 30 riders started to climb, super-strong times in the 1:50 to 2:10 range started to become the norm but Redhill eyes were firmly fixed on one name: James Jenkins on Southend Wheelers.
James was off second to last. If this was an indication of previous form, it must mean that he was capable of sub-2 minutes, knocking RCC off the Junior podium. Anxious times...
Among the seniors things were getting very tense. The winner of the Catford CC climb the same morning, Richard Bussell looked in fantastic form. He went up in 1:50.8 laying down a marker that could only be beaten by the final rider and last year's winner, James Lowden. But before him, James Jenkins to steal away our chance of a podium slot.... nails were being bitten hard when James emerged over the final steep bit looking slower than would be expected of a rider ready to record under two minutes. And so it proved, despite his elevated starting position, James recorded 2:19.7, giving Sevi third place.
The crowds were 3 or 4 deep by this stage to see if the other James, James Lowden, could repeat his 2015 and Denbies Duels wins. Which he could! In fact, he smashed it looking incredibly smooth and controlled as he crossed the line with a six second margin over Richard Bussell - 1:44.6.
For the Lowden's there was a sense of Deja Vu... Joscelin Lowden his sister, who stood alongside him as Women's winner at Denbies repeated her incredible performance to beat National Hill Climb champion Maryka Sennema by over 6 seconds too.
However, for Redhill hill it was a special moment to see a young rider make the podium at such a big event. Sevi's third place followed his Best RCC junior and Most Improved Rider prizes at Denbies.
A few facts about Sevi's ride:
- He ended up 33rd fastest of the 119 riders who took part
- He was only two seconds slower up the hill than TT legend Peter Tadros
- ...and only one second slower than the previously recorded time of Jesse Yates
- His time was 16 seconds faster than the current women's national hill climb champion
- His average speed for the 700 yards was 11mph
- His father is particularly proud!