|Lynn Hamel will be hoping to defend her previous
record-beating time on the Rawson's Rake.
(image from North Devon Farms)
Hamel also holds the 3'12" women's record time over the famously steep course which begins outside the library on Carr Street (53°38'56.53"N 2°19'9.54"W), heading north-west to a left corner onto Tanners Street before coming to the infamous and brutal L812 course, also known as The (or Rawson's) Rake - a hill which, with a maximum gradient as high as 25%, is steeper than any climb in the Tour de France or even the Vuelta a Espana's notorious Alto de l'Angliru. Having passed by the churchyard at the top, the course reaches the finish line outside Exeter Cottage on Chapel Lane (53°38'47.64"N 2°19'45.42"W). The difficulty of the route is made plain by the fact that despite being just 866m long, the record time is 2'14" - anyone able to beat that record will be awarded £400.
People who have not previously attended a hill climbing event tend to assume that with such short courses the racing will be uninteresting. However, due to our lack of the long climbs to be found on the European mainland, British hill climbing has traditionally sought out extremely hard climbs in order to make races as challenging as their longer counterparts abroad. This, combined with the regular departure times of riders, in fact makes for an intense and exciting form of cycling with enough going on for even those with no appreciation of cycling in general to remain interested for longer than tends to be the case - it's a good and, better still, cheap day out for a family and an ideal way to spend an October Sunday.