Rider Chat: Adam Kenway (Hill Climb Champion)
After a season on the road with Raleigh GAC, Hill Climb Champion Adam Kenway is back sprinting up hills looking for victories
Over at Hardwick Hall for the hill climb there on Sunday evening was Adam Kenway (Raleigh GAC) who was back racing after a little family holiday in Majorca chilling with the family.
After an intense season of racing on the road, Adam will be spending the next six weeks looking to make the most of the short season of hill climbs before settling back to preparing for next season on the road.
With his father helping him at Hardwick Hall, Adam explained “I will probably do 10 to 12 hill climbs this season. I try to do one or two on a weekend to the end of October and the national championships. I tend to gradually feel my way into the season and don’t really train up for them. As I get into the season, I increase the training and the intensity.”
Adam says the hill climb events are getting more popular. “This event here (Hardwick Hall) has a good atmosphere and the ones I have done so far have had around 60 riders. The season tends to normally start with the longer ones in the Dales, maybe because the weather is a bit better, and then as the season goes on, they tend to get a little shorter”.
Just like his team run by Cherie Pridham (Racing) which is proud of its Derby roots, Adam says being in the county of Derby is one of the reasons he got into hill climbs which are short time trials (against the watch) with distances from less than a mile to several miles and perhaps a few a little longer.
“Being in Derbyshire is what got me into doing them as most of them are quite local and it’s so easy to get to them. When I started riding the bike again five years ago, hill climbs were the first things I did with a few mates and I suffered a bit!”
One of the events he admits he enjoys is the Monsal Hill Climb at Monsal Head. “I love Monsal in Derbyshire. It’s a great event that Marc Etches puts on and there are always good riders there. Matlock do a good one too and the Nationals is always a great event.” Adam is also keen to ride some of the well known ones down south like the BEC CC event with a very rich heritage.
Looking ahead to the British championships at the end of October, Adam admits “I don’t know much about the nationals course but intend to go up next week and spend a few days up there. I’ve heard a few rumours that it’s not the steepest, big ring; but we’ll have to see.” The event is on the ‘MH11 course’ over 1.1 miles.
Because the hill climb events are all uphill, many riders will do what they can to get the weight of the bike down and even though the Raleigh Militis is a light machine already near the UCI limit, Adam has gone to town putting his ‘hill climb’ bits on it to get the weight over a kilo under the UCI limit which is fine for the hill climb races which are not UCI.
To get the weight down, he has used the lightest Cole wheels, put a saddle on without any padding, chopped the handlebars down, added lightweight brakes and now uses just one chain-ring with no front shifter. But as Adam says, you can spend a lot of money getting it even lighter and under five kilos but you still have to have the legs to turn the pedals round fast to do well.
A season with Cherie Pridham Racing
Prior to this hill climb season, Adam has been a valuable member of Cherie Pridham Racing which for many years has been racing with title sponsorship from Raleigh and GAC, global brands known worldwide. Asked how it has been different riding for a UCI registered team in 2017, Adam says “a rider will have different goals in a UCI team to an Elite one”.
“Like, the goal for a rider might not be the overall win but doing a specific job in the race and I have enjoyed that. When you have riders like Enrique Sanz and Sebastian Mora in the team, they always have a chance of winning a race in a sprint and so the best realistic chance for the team is with them so if we can get it to that point that is what we try to do.”
That all adds up for a rider like Adam to use his ‘engine’ to work for the likes of Enrique and Sebastian in various roles like chasing down breaks and helping keep the team leaders in the race for the win.
Another difference to racing in a UCI outfit as opposed to an Elite team says Adam has been the number of events he races. “I used to have twelve big races a year but this year have done 40 or so which is tiring. That fatigue builds up without you realising it. I can see why there are not a lot of UCI Continental riders doing hill climbs because it’s hard to get motivated to hurt yourself this late in the season.”
Asked what his favourite race this year has been, he says “that has to be the Tour of Yorkshire because of the experience racing with the pros and I learnt a lot from it. If I can do it next year, I’ll know to do a lot of things differently in the race”.
Finally, we return to talk about hill climbs that range from a minute effort to perhaps ten minutes. That , says Adam, means different riders are generally suited to one type of course or another. “Dan Evans (a former champion) is very good at the gradual climbs and is very powerful while I prefer the short sharp ones of 20 per cent etc” Adam explains.
With the season for hill climbs only a few weeks old, Adam has already been busy chasing victories, something he enjoys but admits it is something that can be a challenge. “At the big events, it’s easier but at some of the smaller ones, it’s a weird one as its you’re in a car park on your own trying to get your head into gear to go hard and that’s a challenge after a long season.”
Adam though is equal to that challenge and we look forward to following his progress over the next month …
British champion for the Hill Climb, Adam Kenway sprinting up the climb to Hardwick Hall, finishing second
Adam pinning numbers for stage 2 in the Tour of Yorkshire, a highlight for him in 2017
Adam chatting to sponsors and friends of the team at the Sportive recently
At the start of the year Adam (centre) was at the jersey presentation to one of the team’s valued sponsors, Office Care and Louise Jones and Martin Booth. Also there is Eddie White (left) and team owner Cherie Pridham (right)
Adam (right) with Adria Moreno on the front of the peloton chasing down a break.