Wednesday, July 28, 2021
HomeInterviewsAndrew Feather - National Hill Climb Champion for 2020

Andrew Feather – National Hill Climb Champion for 2020

-

It was two years ago when we first interviewed Bath solicitor, Andrew Feather as CTT National Hill Climb Champion.

In 2018, his Championship win was his 12th hill climb success off 15 starts – impressive.

But not as impressive as this year with his Championship win the now 35 year-old’s victory was his 15th hill climb win off 15 starts – a feat we cannot think of ever having been equalled?

We caught up with Andrew a day or two after his win.

Andrew Feather
Andrew Feather, top of the leaderboard. Photo©Paul Jones

Congratulations, Andrew – tell us about the Championship beast, Streatley Hill in West Berkshire.

“The gradient varied between 13% and 26% over what is a long continuous curve, it’s short at 800 metres; I prefer longer climbs so I was happy to get the win.

“I did a few recce rides to establish the best lines through the corners and was undecided about tyre choice, I considered riding a heavier training tyre to give me more grip with the surface being damp from rain the day before and a lot of leaves about.

“But in the event I rode my race rear wheel and only experienced a little wheel spin, early in the ride.

“However, I did lower the pressure in my rear tyre from 95 psi down to 85 psi.”

How was the weather?

“Fortunately it was dry and calm for the men, Saturday had seen wind and heavy rain; the women’s race was after the men’s event and they did experience rain though.”

What was the game plan? I read that you thought you’d perhaps gone out too quickly – showing 800 watts on your power meter early in the effort…

“I always try to gauge my effort, control the adrenalin early and finish strongly but on Sunday I was slowing in the last 50 metres and the finish line didn’t come a moment too soon.”

Andrew Feather
The finish line couldn’t come too soon for Andrew Feather. Photo©Larry Hickmott

I remember you saying that you’re not a fanatic about your diet and weight?

“That’s still the case, I try to be sensible and watch my portion sizes but I do treat myself and I get through a packet of biscuits most nights.”

Are you still on the Cannondale from 2018?

“Yes, the Super Six Evo frame, but I have it down to 5.4 kilos now from 5.8 kilos in 2018 with some fancy finishing kit.

“I fitted Schmolke carbon bars and stem – as originally used by Jan Ulrich in his heyday – they’re a German company who specialise in super-light components. 

“The seat post is by Mcfk, another German company. It’s carbon too with titanium bolts.

“And I fitted Cane Creek brakes, which are very light and ideal for hill climbs.

“I rode the same Hunt hill climb wheels as I did in 2018.

“The transmission is SRAM Red electronic with a single 42 ring. I rode a 44 in 2018 but I spoke to the guys at the bike shop who do my mechanic stuff (Bomber Bikes in Bristol) and they suggested the 42 which gives me better chain lines with less deflection.

“I also changed my handlebars; I rode 38 cm. wide in 2018 but have gone up to 42 cm. wide this year.

“I ride out of the saddle a lot and find I get better leverage on the wider bars – at hill climb speeds there’s not really an aerodynamic issue and I use my upper body a lot in a race.”

Andrew Feather
Andrew Feather aboard his Cannondale. Photo©Garath Quinn

And you’re with the Hunt Bike Wheels team now?

“Yes, they’re a very supportive sponsor with great products which I think offer some of the best value for money wheels around – and they’re really into the hill climb scene.”

Have you ever considered riding fixed, as many hill climb specialists used to?

“No, in the Championship I changed gear three or four times and with the climb flattening at the top, variable gears were a must – and nowadays group sets are so light that fixed wheel isn’t something I’ve considered.”

Andrew Feather
Andrew Feather concentrates in the hill ahead. Photo©Paul Paxford

Is your training still based around your ride from home in Bath to your office in Bristol?

“With the Covid restrictions I’ve actually been working from home much of the time which has enabled me to do specific hill climb efforts in training after work in the evenings, and my power figures have been my best ever.”

That stat of 15 wins out of 15 rides is mightily impressive.

“I wanted to finish the job off properly and with it being a short climb I knew margins would be tight so I was happy to win by one second.”

Andrew Feather
Andrew Feather has been concentrating on hill-climb specific training. Photo©Jelignite

First this year and in 2018 – but ‘only’ eighth last year? 

“Whilst I really like longer climbs, last year was more for the road man or time trial rider, the average gradient was only 6% with one third of the course flat or downhill.

“I beat Ed Laverack, the 2019 winner the week prior to the Championship last year but he was more aero than I am for a climb like that.

“But I have to say that I wasn’t on my best day, my power was down 25 watts.”

Last time we spoke you told us that you’re a man for seeking out the climbs and setting Strava king of the mountains times.

“Yes, I was in the Pyrenees in 2019 and have the fifth best time on Hautacam behind Laurens Ten Dam, and I have the fastest time on Luz Ardiden!

“I was going to ride the Marmotte sportive this year but have postponed that until next year due to the Covid and quarantine situation. 

“I was also up in the Lake District and set a few Strava bests; for the Hardknott Pass, the Honister Pass from the Seatoller side, and the Wrynose Pass.”

Andrew Feather is already looking forward to next year’s Hill Climb Championship. Photo©Richard Westlake

The Championship ‘hat trick’ next year?

“I’ve heard rumours that it may be on the Winnats Pass in the Derbyshire Peak District, that’s a longer climb than this year – and that suits me.”

Congratulations again to Andrew with thanks for his time and sourcing of images.

* * *

And to close we thought you might like to see Andrew’s hill climb stats for the last three seasons:

2020 Season
Open hill climbs – 15
Wins – 15
Course records – 9

2020 Nationals
Nationals – 0.75 kilometres @ 13% average gradient
Time – 2 mins 04 secs
Average watts – 644 watts

Previous 3 years stats (2018, 2019, 2020)
Open hill climbs – 45
Wins – 39
Other results – 2nd – 2 / 3rd – 2 / 4th – 1 / 8th – 1

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

The Bec CC Hill Climb

Some hill climbs boast a long and colourful history, some have gruelling gradients that are talked about in revered tone throughout clubrooms the length & breadth of the country, whilst others claim to have the richest prize list in the UK.

Scottish Hill Climb Championships 2010 – Preview

Promoted by Sandy Wallace Cycles, the Scottish Hill Climb Championships 2010 takes place on Sunday on the Purrin Den ascent in Fife, and around 35 hardy souls are preparing to put themselves through the seven minutes (and more) of pain it'll take to see the relay station at the finish...

Grant Ferguson and the Scottish Hill Climb Championships 2010 – ‘Une Erreur de Jeunesse’

The French have an expression for it; 'une erreur de jeunesse' - a mistake of youth. The youth in question being Grant Ferguson. When VeloVeritas saw Grant's bike at the top of the climb, we winced and advised that it disappear into the back of the family camper van, pronto - the back brake had been removed as an aid to weight saving.

Jason MacIntyre Wins the Scottish Hill Climb Championship 2007

Jason MacIntyre Wins the Scottish Hill Climb Championship 2007 - It took Jason MacIntyre (Edge RT) just 3 minutes and 37 seconds to win his fifth Scottish individual time trial championship of the 2007 season; at Bonnyton Moor on a dreich Sunday afternoon, the hill climb was duly added to the 10, 25, TTT and circuit TT, in the bleak country above Eaglesham.

Kyle Beattie takes the Scottish Hill Climb Championship 2019

On a dry morning with little wind and a temperature which varied from mild to chilly depending on how the clouds whirled into the Lomond Hills, 23 year-old Kyle Beattie (Cairngorm CC) took the Scottish Hill Climb Championship 2019 north with a 7 minutes 43 seconds ride; a margin of 12 seconds over Fife rider Robin Downie (Team Andrew Allan Architecture) who put a single second into bronze medalist, Tom Merry (Edinburgh University).

Scottish Hill Climb Championship 2008

On a mild but blustery day on the north side of the Ochil Hills, Ben Abrahams (equipe Velo Ecosse - Montpeliers ) finally realised some of his potential and gave new team sponsors Harley Haddow engineering and Warners solicitors value for money with a surprise 17 second win in the Scottish Hill Climb Championship.

At Random

Yuriy Metlushenko – Winning Races Across the Globe for a Decade and a Half

If you’re a regular VeloVeritas reader then you’ll know we try to buck the superlatives trend – ‘iconic’ and ‘awesome’ are words you won’t see on our pages too often. But we have to use a superlative when we talk about today’s interview subject, the Ukraine’s Yuriy Metlushenko – ‘Legendary.’ He’s been winning bike races across the globe for a decade and a half and shows no sign of slowing down.

The VV View: Moolah is a Must-Have?

On social media the other day I saw someone contend that perhaps the crisis that faces time trialling – i.e. the participation age range becomes older by the season, with a case in point being the Scottish ‘25’ title: three youths, one junior – is as a result of the fact that the youngsters think that to compete on equal terms they MUST have a machine which will cost upwards of five grand.

The VV View: Our 2017 Highlights and Favourites, Leavers and Winners. And Chris Froome’s Salbutamol Problem

The last rant of 2017, where did that year go? In fact, where did the last 11 years go? It seems like t’other day we set the site up. To business! Let’s get the bad bits of 2017 out of the way first...

Andreas Müller – Sights are Set Higher These Days

I remember interviewing Andreas Müller a year or two ago and him telling me that he'd be happy to emulate the career of German former Six Day rider Gert Dörich, who was the 'Taxi Driver' par excellence during his long career which took in 163 Six Day races.

Dylan Westley – Developing as a Rider and a Person with Equipo Lizarte

Stepping up from the Junior ranks to compete in the u23 category is a big deal for any young rider, but to combine it with moving to a new team as well as living away from home in a different country takes courage and a rock-solid belief in your ability - qualities talented 18-year-old Yorkshireman Dylan Westley has in spades.

Michael Mørkøv – “Winning the Danish Champion’s Jersey Again was beautiful”

He’s a versatile man that Michael Mørkøv; world champion on the track, Grand Tour stage winner, Cobbled Classics breakaway specialist, Six Day vedette, Danish Elite Road Race Champion, Classic podium finisher – and now arguably the best lead-out man in the business; right hand man to the man with the most successes this year, QuickStep’s rapid Italian Elite Road Race Champion, Elia Viviani, with 17 winner’s bouquets in 2018.