He’s back! On the even numbered years, he’s the man when it comes to anti-gravity; 2018 – 2020 – 2022… Bath solicitor, Andrew Feather (Huntbikewheels.com) is British Hill Climb Champion for the third time.
We caught up with him a day or two after his win on the ‘Old Shoe’ at Llangollen in Denbighshire, North Wales.
Congratulations, Andrew – we speak to you every second year…
“Yes, it seems the even number years are best for me.
“I’m pleased to win again, hill climbing is so popular and the standard really high so it’s good to win again.”
And you’re still in the legal profession?
“Yes, my circumstances are still the same – except we have three children now, including an eight month old baby so I’m used to getting by on not a lot of sleep.
“My wife is very supportive of my cycling though.”
You’re 37 years-old, that rather belies that, ‘it’s a young man’s game.’
“I think as long as you keep fit and do the very specific training that’s necessary for hill climbs then you can continue to be competitive – it’s not like you need to do six hours on the bike.”
The race was on ‘Old Shoe’?
“I’ve ridden the Horseshoe Pass, it’s longer and shallower; I took the course record on it this year – but the ‘Old’ climb is shorter and steeper, this was the first time I’ve raced on it.”
How were conditions?
“It was pouring rain at 11:00 am when I left the B&B but it was dry for my warm-up and the sun came out later in the day.”
I believe that you were 500 plus watts average for your effort?
“It was 510 watts average for the 5:29 effort; that was on a par with the best I’ve produced which was when I rode against 2021 Hill Climb Champion, Tom Bell a few weeks ago.”
I saw that there was a huge crowd.
“The last 300 metres you couldn’t see the road for people, that level of support gives you extra motivation.”
Tom Bell, last year’s champion was second.
“I’ve been trading blows with Tom for three years, I knew it would be close but I got the better of him by 2.5 seconds.”
When we spoke last in 2020 your stats were impressive, 15 starts, 15 wins, what are they for this year?
“I started 11 and won 11 with six course records; that’s all very well but the one that matters and you get remembered for is the National.
“There’s a lot of pressure to perform but I came in with a good mind set and rode on feel rather than the power meter.”
And you rode the ‘old faithful’ Cannondale?
“Yes, the SuperSix Evo Hi Mod frame, it comes in at 5.9 kilograms.
“I have a Schmolke saddle which is 65 grams and I was on their carbon bars too.
“Jan Ulrich used them in his heyday – they’re a German company who specialise in super-light components.
“The seat post and stem are by Mcfk, another German company, carbon with titanium bolts.
“The brakes are Cane Creek EE, which are very light and ideal for hill climbs.
“I rode the same Hunt hill climb wheels – they’re one of my sponsors – as I did in 2018 and 2020, they’re very specific, you’d never ride them in training.
“The transmission is SRAM Red electronic with a single 38 ring. I rode a 44 in 2018 and 42 in 2022 but I spoke to the guys at the bike shop who do my mechanic stuff (Bomber Bikes in Bristol) and they suggested the 38, that gives me better chain lines with less deflection.
“The cranks are Rotor Aldhu carbon with an INspider power meter on a C-Bear ceramic bottom bracket, it’s a small Belgian company that has made it its mission to produce some of the best-engineered bottom brackets available.
“The cassette is an 11 speed but spaced out on the spokes side to nine speed to give a better chain line.
“I use Shimano Dura Ace pedals, they’re not the lightest but have a big platform.
“I also changed my handlebars; I rode 38 cm. wide in 2018 but went up to 42 cm. wide for 2020 and 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.”
What about tyres?
“I ride Vittoria Chrono CS 22mm tubulars which are no longer manufactured, I picked one up on eBay but think I’m going to have look for an alternative.
“I dropped the pressure in them to 70 psi rear/85 psi front to ensure good grip but still have ‘feel’ at the front when I’m out of the saddle.”
You wore a crash hat this year, you’re usually an ‘Oppy’ cap man?
“Yes, the new CTT rule is that you must wear one – and fit lights too but I have a nice neat mount for my front light, it sits below my Wahoo head unit.”
Last time we spoke you said that you’re not fanatical about food and your weight?
“My weight is 62/63 kilos, I’m not a fanatic, I don’t do silly things like eat double portions but I’m not overly rigid, I find that if I go too light then my power drops off.”
Are you still doing that ‘Strava stuff’ and what’s on the Andrew Feather ‘to do’ list?
“I’ve been doing a bit of work with GCN, they had me riding the notorious Scanuppia climb in Trentino – sections are 45%.
“And I’ve been Everesting too, taking on different challenges, it’s been a nice year.
“For the future, I don’t know but next year the National is on ‘The Struggle’ in the Lake District, the height gain is 396 metres from Ambleside with a max gradient of 24%, it’s a 4.8 kilometre climb and I’d like to defend my title on there.”
With congratulations again and thanks to Andrew for always having time to speak to us at VeloVeritas.
Thanks to Gary Main for the wonderful feature image.