Monday, 28 November 2011

Hill no 61 – 45 Park Rash

Struggled a bit to find the start of the climb - but a stop in a local shop and the fortunate appearance of a couple of cyclists from Leeds Uni showed us the right way quickly. It would have been easier to find this with a little bit of local knowledge - unfortunately this was something we were lacking.

The other thing I was lacking was technical nous. I turned on my Garmin, but it wouldn't load the maps. I went frantic trying to work the bloody thing out, even trying to call tech support - but it was a weekend, I had little or no phone reception and I couldn't "save" the thing for this ride. Gutted.

The ride itself was beautiful. Yes, beautiful, but blinking hard. Again - another climb where it is brutal fairly early doors (you can tell this by my lack of chat). It got flatter, but then I hit - well, I hit the wind. It was like being hit repeatedly by a sledgehammer and constantly being dragged back with ropes. Properly crazy stuff.
After the windy sections came the ridiculously steep sections - thankfully I didn't have too much wind to fight through on these parts, but it was more than enough, thank you very much!

Keep in low gear indeed - I never got out of a blinking low gear! Garmin on blink, video camera gave out just before the end, but this was a tough, tough climb.
Youtube here:
Garmin Data here: My Garmin packed up unfortunately - so I don't have the corroboration other than the photos and video!
Flickr here:

Hill no 60 – 46 Oxnop Scar

The very first thing you have to do on this climb is, well, climb!

With a wet road and a 25% gradient, you had the choice of back wheel slip or front wheel wheelie depending on where you balanced your weight on the bike. A little bit of mud on the road, and a dodgy road surface and I was in trouble straight away!!

Couldn't really appreciate the beauty - was a little more focused on the greater than 20% gradients and the fact that it felt like I was standing still I was moving so slowly! At about 3 min I looked round and couldn't believe how high I was so quickly - just showed how challenging the climb was straight away!
Thankfully the initial steep slopes levelled out (a bit!) and I was able to enjoy the climb a little bit more.

Unfortunately you'll have to take my word for it as my camera run out of juice and I was left to haul myself up the rest of the climb (which was a bit more up and down than the unrelenting start)

Youtube here:
Garmin Data here:

Flickr here:

Hill no 59 – 49 Buttertubs Pass

Ah - a wet one! I was promised a "brilliant climb" and whilst I don't really mind riding in the rain, I am well aware that it tends to make getting up hills a little more tricky than when it is perfectly dry (and the wind is blowing behind you!)

Mind you, it was a good chance to put all the gear on, thick gloves, waterproof jacket and feet warmers. The only problem with all of that is that you can "boil in the bag" a little bit - so you end up soaked with sweat if not with rain!

Crazy ride up - even with the sound of me panting heavily, you can hear the incredible songbirds chirruping away merrily - climbs mean nothing to them!

Always pretty tough this climb - never really letting up totally and letting you rest with a really steep section where it felt like I was coming to a complete stop  - thankfully leading to a brief downhill section where I gave away some of the height I had work so hard to gain! Even on the downhill though, you could see the road snake up and away over the hill.

Phew - hard work in the rain! Hot, tiring and wet, but very satisfying!
Youtube here:
Garmin data here:
Flickr here:

Hill no 58 – 50 Fleet Moss

Again - Fleet Moss started in a pretty little village (with some excellent tractors) in decent weather conditions. People walking their dogs and a nice little rise to get out of the village - all very pleasant.

You climb up and out of the village pretty quick and looking back it is all picture perfect.

Of course, it gets steep and harder pretty quickly though - just to remind you that this isn't fun! Although there is a nice section where it is a bit flatter and lets you regain your breath as you go through some old farm buildings.

The road was pretty bumpy, but to be honest, that paled into insignificance as the road ramped up and I stopped gawping at the scenery and started concentrating on turning pedals. I have started to resent downhill sections when going up on hills - I don't see them as opportunities to rest anymore, just giving away the height you have already gained! The climb ended with a nasty 20% section
And it was a relief to pull myself up around the final bend in the misty cloud. The video footage runs out - but I got there (promise!)

Youtube here:
Garmin Data here:
Flickr here:

Hill no 57 – 73 Garsdale Head

Again, Garsdale Head starts in a very very pretty location.

Of course, it started with a brutal climb - up past some old type buses and past Garsdale Head Station. My train "enthusiast" father-in-law would definitely have approved! The climb itself was brutal from the off - straight into the climbing and the raggy breathing as you hauled yourself up the 20% slopes.

I love these warning signs - it makes you feel a lot less wimpy about struggling up the climbs themselves and it makes me a lot more thankful that I have sorted doing these out at a decent time of year, rather than waiting and doing them in terrible weather (I'd probably need a skidoo or something).
I think this part of the world is incredibly beautiful. I mean, it is a bit desolate and remote and wild and more often than not windy, but look at it, just look at it!

Stone walls, incredible views, beautiful countryside. Smashing.

Wasn't 100% sure where the climb ended so went on a bit - weather at the top was a little peaky too, but enjoyed that one.

Youtube here:
Garmin data here:
Flickr here:

Hill no 56 – 78 Lamps Moss

I thought Lamps Moss would be a nice little climb - only ranking a 7/10 in Simon's scale. It started in a pretty little village and you hit a warning sign after about 2 yards(!) saying that it was 20%. Simon says this is an exaggeration, so I thought - no bother.

20% wasn't true. No, it was only 18% maximum. But the wind was whistling around like nobody's business, there were the usual road hazards (ie a cattle grid, which in blowy, steep conditions is "interesting"!). The weather at the bottom was pretty good - although I had arm and leg warmers and shoe covers on, I soon got to be pretty hot!

Em's shot from the car shows that the steepness of the hills carried on past the initial slope - quite amazing how the initial beautiful tranquility of the village ends so quickly and goes into windswept moors pretty quickly.
Having bragged about this only being a 7, the wind blowing into my face and the length of the climb made it seem a little harder and it required a lot of dragging myself up the hill. I rationed my gears out and then I hit a flat bit which was a lot more "comfortable", but then at the end, it ramped up cruelly one more final time.

Again, I was a bit flat out, in my lowest gear, dragging myself up past the snow poles and thankful that I was getting a little more shelter from the wind.

Needed to give myself a good talking to at the end as the last bit was agony with burning legs and fatigue setting in. But finally I dragged myself up and over and treated myself to a good view of, well, cloud really!

Youtube here:
Garmin data here:
Flickr here:

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Hill no 55 – 51 Tan Hill

Not the toughest climb in the world, nor (thanks to the conditions) the most picturesque, but there was enough to get an idea about what a climb this would be in the sun (and how bad it would be in rubbish weather conditions!)

I have had some fantastic weather, so I really can't grumble on the odd occassion that I get rubbishy weather!
Only rating a 3/10 in Simon's opiniont, the hill did tend to go down(!) as well as up, but there were enough "up" elements to keep it a challenge and to keep you honest. A hill that you kind of race up, rather than grind up - and that's not bad thing!

I think this is a pretty well used hill in road races and it is wild and barren up here on the hill - other than that, I cannot say too much as it wasn't the best visibility - I hope the video gives you some idea of it though!

I really fancied some food at the famous Tan Hill Inn at the end of this, but they were doing an absolutely roaring trade and there was no way we were getting a table - at least not in sufficient time to allow us to keep to the rest of our climbing timetable!

Youtube here:
Garmin data here:
Flickr here:

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Hill no 54 – 57 The Stang

The bright sunshine of yesterday had dissipated somewhat and I was in much cloudier/hazier weather. I was not as hot as I had been yesterday and there was a distinct threat of more threatening weather conditions.

The difference was really noticeable - but as I say on the video, it could have been worse and at least I wasn't going to overheat too much!

There was a little bit of unpleasant dodging through rabbit carcasses at the start of the ride, but there were plenty more live rabbits hopping in and out of the walls by the side of the climb.

Again - it was moorland as far as the eye could see - which given the poor weather conditions, was not very far at all! It kind of made you felt like you were cycling in a bit of a bubble - just plugging away in a world of your own, just merrily riding up the 10m of hill that you could see with a car every now and then puncturing your little bubble.

It seemed like a pretty consistent climb, but the higher up you got, the worse the weather conditions and visibility. Cars had their lights on and it was a stark reminder to me that if things could be this grim at this time of year - they could be a lot worse at other times of the year!

I'm afraid visibility gets pretty atrocious on the video. Maybe one day I'll come back on a clearer day and take some better video!

Youtube here:
Garmin Data here:
Flickr here:

Hill no 53 – 63 Chapel Fell

The last of the North East climbs - and the hardest was saved to the last. A nasty 9/10 climb and of course it was the last one, rather than the first one!

Not getting too cocky about it, but anything up to a 7/10, I know it will be "ok" - ie hard work, but ok, but a 9/10 hill I know that I'm going to have to get in a pretty low gear. And stay there.

This was the highest paved road in England apparently - and it was a beautiful ride in the gorgeous evening sunshine as I just cruised (well struggled) along.

Simon talks about two landmarks - a cattle grid and a bridge that immediately preceeded some stiff climbing - I was dreading that somewhat - but you could look around and see the road around you and the scenery was pretty amazing.

It was quite funny to see the road signs warning of terrible road conditions at all times - especially as I had lucked out and had a lovely day to climb it on. Although I did feel as though the climbing was tough enough without having to struggle through terrible road and weather conditions.

Again, a long, steep climb and I could feel the day's exhaustion in me - every slight rise in the terrain was causing me panic as I tried to calculate how much energy I needed and how much I had left. It was a relief to hit the cattle grid at the top of the hill, to pull over and to survey all that lay below me.

Youtube here:
Garmin data here:
Flickr here:

Hill no 52 – 59 Crawleyside

It is a cruel, cruel thing on a beautiful summer’s day when everyone else is enjoying a cold beer in a pub, to clip into the pedals on your bicycle and head off a stupidly steep hill.
But, this is the challenge I have set myself and I was going to have to forego the pleasant amber nectar for some burning legs and rewarding myself with (every now and then) lukewarm energy drink.
Another stiff climb out of the village, with a fair few cars bombing past meant I had to work pretty hard from the start – past farms and houses. It is funny, but when you’re in the middle of nowhere, you pay no mind to how you are riding – you just get on with it, but if you’ve got (a theoretical) audience, the pressure is on there to look a bit better in the saddle than the usual rolling and sprawling riding that I do going up hills!
Again, another not great video I’m afraid, but as you come out of the town, the climbing gets gradually easier and easier until you are out on the moorland with spectacular views and an easier finish.

Amazing how wild and desolate the moorlands are – no trees, just heather scrubbily hanging on and trying to exist ok!

youtube here:
Garmin data here:
Flickr here:

Hill no 51 – 60 Peth Bank

A bit of a contrast this one as it actually started somewhere relatively “urban”. When I say relatively “urban”, I do mean in comparison to the riding I had been doing the last few days – Lanchester was a pretty sleepy, pretty little town, but it was a thriving metropolis compared to where we’d been.
A cyclist was heading up the road before me – which was nice (because in the back of your mind there is always a target to chase down).
The heat was pretty amazing – the road was “sticky” and you could feel the squidge of the tar being soft under the bike – it was even sticking to the tyres a bit and picking up stones. I did resent this extra weight that I was carrying.
Again, another hill that was steep at the very start, but there was a nice bit through trees which I really enjoyed – the open climbs are amazing for views etc, but I just find the climbs through trees more enjoyable for some reason.
A little bit of a false finish and I saw the guy ahead of me, which really gave me the impetus to press down on the pedals, the little windy turns meant I lost sight of him every now and then, but I caught him, regulated my breathing and gave a cheery greeting (trying not to let him know how hard I had been working!)

Great views at the top again. Really lovely.

Garmin data here:
Flickr here:

Hill no 50 – 61 Winters Gibbet

Cheerfully named after the gibbet that was used to hang William Winter, this was my first climb back in England after all the Scottish climbs. I was hoping the “monster” climbs were over (ie that the really long climbs were done) and indeed this was a much shorter climb (and a mere 5/10 and not ending at a ski resort!).

Another absolutely beautiful ride though – just a quick cruise out and ramping up ahead was a nice straight slope which focussed the mind straight away.
Lots of shots of the sky on the video I’m afraid – the only thing I can think was the heat of riding was making me tip my helmet back to get some air on my hot head!

Again, having got ride of the steep stuff earlier on and the fact that the wind wasn’t TOO horrific, it was really a relatively gentle cruise up to the top, riding some lovely deserted roads and thoroughly enjoying the ride.
I do remember thinking to myself – living round here and riding these hills on days like this must be pretty nice…
I actually saw an adder! My first live snake in the UK! Luckily it was a quiet road as this little fella was just stretched out enjoying the sunshine. I find snakes a bit scary and creepy, bit of a wuss when it comes to them - but a real live adder - amazing!

Youtube here:
Garmin Data here:
Flickr here:

Hill no 49 – 75 The Cairnwell

The Cairnwell was another lovely climb - beautiful weather, blue sky and really nice. There was even a chance to get a bit warmed up – the hill didn’t really ramp up early doors – indeed it was a flattish bomb along with a few ups and downs, but plenty of time to admire the quite spectacular scenery.

Somewhat unsurprisingly – my legs felt really “good” on this bit – and I was really enjoying doing the cycling equivalent of putting the pedal to the metal and having a look around - I think that it is right to start the climb back before this section so you can enjoy the build up.
After a suitable period of time though, the road does get harder, I knew the pleasure couldn’t last! The gradient picked up and kept climbing up a bit – the scenery stayed beautiful, but the hills seemed to be a lot closer to you than when you were bombing along!

I do remember that there were these big long straights – that seemed to stretch out in front of you endlessly, with the heat and the sun, I was drinking lots from my bottle and working really hard to get up the hill.

A massive change from the early part of the climb – and I was regretting having bombed along so merrily as my legs weren’t quite feeling as brave as they were earlier on.

The “No-Stopping” signs were just mocking me now and at the end of the climb, my mind obviously starts to wander as I start prattling on about some sort of nonsense on the video. Again – you kind of drag yourself over the top and then it is a nice cruise to the Glenshee Ski Centre where I had myself a welcome sit down.
Youtube here:
Garmin Data here:
Flickr here: