100 cycling climbs blog

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June 20, 2017

I’ve just come back from spending the weekend at the awesome Eroica Britannia cycling festival. Three days of vintage bikes, music, food, drink, fun and lots of sun. It’s the first time I’d been to the festival and also the first time I’d ever had a stand to sell my books at an event. I went filled with excitement, and a little trepidation as I was to be giving a talk on the Saturday evening in the beer tent, no pressure! Anyone who’s ever had a stall at a festival before will be able to relate to me when I say that even though you are there and part of it, you don’t actually get to see much of it. Now don’t get me wrong, I had a brilliant time, met loads of readers, had many a heated debate about the merits of this climb or that climb and also sold a fair few books which was nice. From behind my table though, in the increasingly muggy air of our large tent, out through the open side, there in front of me every time I looked up all I saw were the assorted tables that made up the bike j...

June 12, 2017

Look at the two road coverings below, both have appeared on my local lanes over the previous weeks and both applied by the same council. The one on the left is a pure pleasure to ride, as smooth as silk and as fast as lightning, were as the one on the right, a hideous, dangerous, gravel track suitable for nothing but agricultural machinery.


Let’s consider the one on the right first, and yes you’ve guessed it, it’s the dreaded, the despicable, the unbearable, ‘chip and seal’. Summer is the season when cash strapped councils take it upon themselves to seemingly randomly dump tonnes of gravel on your favourite country lanes rendering them useless and more importantly freaking dangerous for cycling. We’ve all experienced it, instead of fixing holes or laying a nice new topping the common practice is to simply spread a thin layer of tar the width of the road then chuck a load of stones on it, stick up a warning sign, then p*ss off to let traffic bed them in. Why? Because it’s cheap, because...

June 7, 2017

Once a year I like to drive the family down to Italy for a week of pizza, frescos and hopefully sun, not fly, drive. Yes it is a long way, yes, it takes two days instead of two hours, and yes, the kids fight in the back the entire way turning my beloved Skoda Octavia into a quagmire of half chewed sweets, Lego and torn paper. If you fly though, if you choose the easy option, there is one huge drawback, you can’t midway through the journey, park up, jump out and ride your bike up a mountain. You see I’m happy to put up with the arguments, the mess, the hours behind the wheel because the reward is my annual fix of spending a solid hour or more pounding a glorious incline, sweeping round bend after bend surrounded by the awesome beauty of the Alps.

I must make it clear that the main premise for the trip is a family holiday, but there’s always time to squeeze in a mountain or two here and there, because if there’s a will, and there is a will, then there’s a way. Normally I route us via Bo...

May 15, 2017

When I dress in lycra and ride my bike, am I no longer human? Do I no longer matter? Am I now just an inconvenience? Am I now JUST A CYCLIST!

THINK.

It’s time to stop labeling people according to the mode of transport they occupy, cyclist, motorist, we are all human, we are all lives. SIMPLE. And while we’re at it, it’s time to do away with the idea that there’s some sort of imaginary transportation food chain that places the car above the bicycle. All modes of transport are equal, the road doesn’t belong to the car, the truck, the bus or the bike, it belongs to everyone.

Why is the car better than the bike? Because it’s faster? Because it costs more money? Seriously! “Oh, look at me, look how much my car cost, look how fast it goes, I have progressed. I have moved further up the evolutionary ladder than you on your cheap slow bicycle” WAKE UP PEOPLE! It’s just a car. (For the record I have no hatred of cars, I love my car, just not as much as my bike)
Without wanting to sound too m...

May 1, 2017

Who in their right mind would stand on an exposed hill, in biting wind, in thin Lycra, for over three hours. A cycling fan, that’s who. Imagine 90,000 football fans filling Wembley to sit looking at the pitch for three hours only for both teams to simply run from one side to the other then disappear, game over. People would think they were insane. Why? They would ask, but us cycling fans do it. We are happy spend a whole day in the high mountains staring down the valley, waiting for a fleeting moment of action, a chance to interact with our heroes, to share the same space with them for the briefest of moments. And then, once they flash past, like the life of the Mayfly, it’s over. All the planning, the endeavour to climb the hill, the patience of the wait, all for the briefest burst of excitement, it seems insane but we love it. You see the wait only amplifies the intensity of the action, without the wait I don’t think the effect could ever be the same.

So here I find myself on the la...

April 21, 2017

You’re right Dorothy, these are proper cobbles, these are Yorkshire cobbles, and at last we’re going to see some included on the route of the Tour de Yorkshire. As soon as the race stages were announced I scanned their profiles, looking for climbs with the precision of a doctor scanning an ECG printout. Every peak was analysed, every bump dissected, firstly I was looking for vicious gradients, but more importantly I was searching for cobbles. After waiting patiently for three years I’ve finally got some, and there are non better than those of the mighty Shibden Wall. A fearsome, legendary road, climb number 40 in 100 Greatest Cycling climbs, this should and hopefully will blow the race to pieces providing an awesome spectacle for the waiting fans. It’s not the first time racing has graced this road and much of its fame is due to its inclusion in the 1988 Kelloggs Tour of Britain. (There’s some rather fuzzy footage on Youtube if you want to have a look, see link below). Unfortunately du...

April 8, 2017

Having Ridden all the climbs from my first book well before the birth of Strava, and now I’ve released my App, I’m keen revisit them so I too can one day have a score of 100 on my home screen. So whenever an opportunity arises, where ever I am I try and squeeze one in, and a couple of weeks ago, whilst doing a recky for the Magnificent Seven (see previous post) I added a few kilometres to my loop to bag the evil Pea Royd Lane.

Having suffered up it in both the 2009 and 2014 National Hill climbs it’s left mental scars that may never heal. If racing it once wasn’t bad enough, going back a second time, well that was just madness but I just couldn’t resist the challenge of seeing how my 41 year old self would fair against my 36 year old self. I was clinging to the hope that with age comes experience and that somehow I’d ride it smarter, measure my effort better, pick a shorter line and cover the course in a quicker time. The thing is, unless you’re one of the elites who can smash it from...

March 25, 2017

Not wanting to sound like too much of a cliché, but I just LOVE Flanders. I love the architecture, the beer, the cycling infrastructure and of course the cobbled climbs. So when an opportunity arose for a Belgian adventure, a trip to see the E3-Harelbeke World Tour race, I just had to go. It was to be a smash and grab trip, leave London at 7am and be back by 9pm, I wanted to see the action four times and also tick off six climbs on my Hellingen App (see below for more info).

It was a day that would require military grade planning, some serious graft on the bike and possibly a bit of luck. I got my luck right away on the approach to Oudenaarde where I was to drop the car, as my journey intertwined with the race route and I just squeezed infront of the race convoy. Car dumped, I was now on two wheels, (the only sensible option for chasing a bike race round the bergs of Flanders) and headed for climb number one on my itinerary, The Kattenberg. There was already a decent crowd, so as I ro...

March 20, 2017

Yesterday I rode one of the most remarkable events I have ever taken part in, the Magnificent Seven in Sheffield. Looking at the route, and with my unquenchable love for hills I thought I’d give it a crack, and I could visit the in-laws at the same time. I didn’t look into what it actually involved, I just assumed it was a quick jaunt round the city with lots of climbing, a very short, yet very hilly Sportive. I was SO WRONG. This was no jolly, this was no amble round Sheffield to be ridden at one’s own pace, this was seven consecutive, mass start, eyeballs out, take no prisoners hill climbs. Yes seven, one after another, all on closed roads with points awarded to the top 15 in each category, the winner decided by the greatest aggregate score. What had I got myself into, I couldn’t loose face and back out, I just had to accept my fate and start to prepare. (No, not that type of prepare, just do some training then ride the course the day before).

Thankfully there was a Vets category so...

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Britain's Greatest

Cycling Climbs BOX SET

Comprising a total of 545 ascents from the tip of Cornwall all the way up to the highlands of Scotland, the eight region-specific volumes of Britain’s Greatest Cycling Climbs contain the most comprehensive documentation of Britain’s hills ever compiled for road cyclists.

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