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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 base to summit, measuring your effort and trying to concentrate in such a state of duress, with your legs screaming and lungs burning is akin to trying to spin plates in a hurricane. It’s too long to go full gas all the way (for me anyway) but not long enough to ride at a slightly more conservative pace, it’s just impossible to judge making it one of the hardest climbs to race. This time though I was back to enjoy it, and its lovely new surface, to just be challenged by the topography, not to be tortured by it, to tackle it’s nasty gradient without tasting blood or loosing my vision, there’s a big difference between riding a hill and racing one, thankfully. The first stretch is where the damage can be done if you hit it too hard away from Fox Valley, so go steady here, and again when the road turns right into it’s steepest section, just hold back slightly. The false flat that follows this, over the bridge above the bypass, although looking like it should be easy, never is, then you twist left into the final stretch. With the gradient ebbing and flowing and rising high above Stocksbridge the weather will now be affecting your progress as you head right to cut between the rocks to the finish of a brutal road. So once bagged, and data uploaded the score on my App clicked over from 32 to 33, just 67 more to ride and I can’t wait to visit them all, at a steady and comfortable pace. For the record I was 37th in the 2009 National Hill Climb with a time of 4.16 (the winner did 3.18), then five years later I clocked 4.15.8 which although quicker was only good enough for 69th place to the winners 3.24. Hill climbing had become a lot more popular in the interim years and was attracting more talented riders, but I had stayed just about exactly the same. You can find the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs app on the App Store here and for Android here

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