Scottish Climbs: The Serpentine, Rothesay

It is now hill climb season, and The Serpentine Road in Rothesay is used for the hill climb of the Bute Cycling festival, held annually by the Bute Wheelers since the 1950s. This weekend is coming up- 17th and 18th September 2011.

The festival incorporates a series of four races, with a fun atmosphere that is slightly more informal than some events. It is often used as an end-of-season social trip, with the Saturday night being as important a part of the weekend as the 2-up time trial, the 10, the hill climb or the APR.

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The climb itself is a steep winding road that spirals upwards for 1/3 of a mile, and like most short, sharp climbs, demands the maximum whether you are racing up it or just riding- taking your time simply prolongs the effort!

Stirling BC

William Bowers, 2011 Stirling club hill climb champion, will be doing the Serpentine Hill Climb in 2011. I asked him about it and William, who relishes tough events said “Last year I didn’t do too well, I could have handled the hairpins better and I paced it a bit too slow on the bendy first half.” But he considered giving me a quote for the blog as ‘taking the Bute races seriously, which is against the rules’ – further evidence of the relaxed atmosphere in which the weekend is held.

Despite this, last year there was a £100 1st Prize donated by The Bike Shed Bute, so it’s a competition that riders should be more than keen to turn themselves inside out for. In 2010 young talent Grant Ferguson (Dooleys, below) was first in 1:57:09, with Robin Wilkins 2nd for Stirling BC with 1:57:20 and Euan Pope 3rd in 2:01:33.

Dooleys Cycles

Another funny anecdote is Eddie Addis’ record in the hill climb. You wouldn’t expect a man of his prowess to have come off on one of the bends last year, or to have taken a wrong turn and got lost a couple of years previously! However, these sort of antics merely give the lesser lights something to tease a top rider like him about for the rest of the year, when he is tearing off legs and winning races.

The Serpentine Hill

Thanks to Dave Swan for some of these photos. ,He regularly shoots the Bute cycling events, and contributes to the Bute Sport Group on flickr– check it out.