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It's That Time Of Year Again.

Around this time last year I posted about the bygone boozers I snapped in and around the centre of old Matlock on the way to help out with the club's double-header hill climb event. Well, it's that time of year again, the time when certain nutters feel the desire to fight gravity up Riber in the morning and then, after lunch, up Bank Road in Matlock.

This year I wasn't offering my assistance. I'd put myself into a state of purdah as in less than a week I'm undergoing elective surgery, postponed from March, and didn't want to put myself at risk of getting a dose of simple sniffles from someone, let alone Covid.

Bank Road was once the site of purportedly the world's steepest cable tramway. At least that's what Kelly's 1908 directory would have one believe. Because of the width, or in reality the lack of width, of Bank Road, it operated as a single line tramway with just one passing place by the Gate Inn.

The former Gate Inn, Matlock.

The Gate Inn used to serve on the corner of Bank Road and Smedley Street East and was in operation from at least 1841 when the census records George Boden as a publican on Matlock Bank. The house stayed with the Boden family for over seventy years with son Samuel having taken it on by 1849, then his son William ran it, followed by William's daughter Mary and her husband, Frederick Bannister.

In more recent times the Gate was a Home Brewery house before passing into the hands of Trust Inns.

After at some point deciding to become known as the Gate Hotel, it is now a bygone boozer. However, it does still serve a beer from time to time as the building now earns its living as the home to Designate, a 'Licensed Arts Venue'. In less strange times, if you fancied attending a musician's night, a record club or a grown ups games night (!) you could still get served a pint. You might still be able to get a drink there but, to me, it's not a pub.

In the same strange times that affect Designate's activities there were still 113 folk mad enough to enter this year's hill climb. It probably had a very different atmosphere than it usually does, with far fewer turning out to shout encouragement and watch the sufferfest. Empty pavements on the steepest section when normally they'd be packed with a crowd of cowbell-clangers, cheering competitors on.

Not even a solitary dog watches clubmate James Adams pass the former Gate Inn.

What's it like to ride a hill climb? I recall burning lungs, screaming legs and vague vision through a red mist. Great fun! These two pics might give you a little idea of the joy involved... in finishing.

A shot of Hamish McDougall crossing the line...

...and one five seconds later.

To my mind hill climbs are a young person's game which therefore counts out any active participation from me. Any time that I begin to contemplate entering one I make myself watch this clip again. It was filmed in 2016 when the national hill climb championships were held on Bank Road. Courtney passes the former Gate at around 1min 22s into his effort, just before the gradient becomes the steepest and the cowbells the loudest. He still has a long, long way to go.

Having just watched it again I have remembered why they are events of the past for me. Besides, fortunately, my cardiologist he say "NO!"

Thanks to clubmate Eric Ruthenburg for the shots from this year's event. The image of the Gate in 2003 is © Dave Bevis and is reused under this license.

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