Marginal gains for hill climb bike

Different attempts to save weight on the hill climb bike – with varying degrees of success and cost.

1. Cutting off fabric from saddle

This was motivated mainly because my Tune saddle looked a bit frayed. An expensive saddle – but the fabric was coming away. Rather than glue it back down, I thought the excess fabric needed cutting off. The hope was it would look neater and save weight into the bargain.

cut-off-saddle-fabric

The result – Total weight saved – 0 grams. Psychological advantage – incalculable.

2. Cutting the end off cables

My local bike maintenance shop Reg Taylor are very good, but they aren’t used to catering for the weight weenie hill climbers. The cables always come back with nice long bits of spare cable and neat cable tidies at the end. I kept looking at these for a couple of weeks, but I knew they were doomed – it’s just something asking to be cut. I got great joy getting out the cable cutters and snipping off free weight. Zero cost, no power lost, possibly even a fractional aero gain.

margina-gains-1g

  • Weight saving 1 gram – Just 1g down, 5,999 grams to go. Wow, this isn’t going to be quite as easy as I hoped. All that metal for a measly 1 gram!

Cutting skinsuit

I got a National Champions skinsuit by Impsport. I made the mistake of getting the cheaper version. When I put it on, it was less skinsuit more inflatable parachute. I had it sent to a tailor (Alex Laycock) to make it more suited to a stick thin hill climber, rather than your average ‘I ate all the pies’ Joe. But, even then the arms were too long and these end cuffs – although they look quite good – stuck out in the wind quite a bit. It didn’t look very aero or very smart. Eventually I got out the scissors and cut these offending bits off – a shame really. The motivation was to make it look better, but as an added bonus the operation saved a whole 11 grams.

cut-off-jersey-ends

Marginal gains from clothes could be a potentially dangerous avenue to start going down. It’s one thing to start drilling holes in your saddle, it’s another to start cutting holes in a skinsuit… I’m sure there would be a CTT Regulation too about this too.

Saddle – Tune saddle

tune-saddle

The Tune saddle at 83 grams is definitely less than your average saddle. But, perhaps not the best. It has quite a bit of flex (which makes it comfortable, but I’m worried about power loss from a flexy saddle.

This AX Lightness Sprint saddle is a mere 69 grams. But, do I want to pay £270 for 14 gram weight saving? – not really. I’d rather make my skinsuit shorts a little shorter.

Single Chainring

single-chainring

Single chain ring. This was 2012 hill climb bike and weighed 5.7 kg

I had a look at the remaining hill climbs and realised I won’t be using the big chain ring at all (I hardly ever use outer chain ring – unless the climb goes downhill – and then I’m usually on TT bike anyway). So it’s time to take it off. Free weight saving. It may be Dura Ace but, it looks heavy. Why carry up an extra 100 grams when you can get away with out it?

53-outer-chain-ring-weight

My Dura Ace 53 tooth weighed more at 135g rams

The big temptation is take take off the front dérailleur too – it doesn’t do anything with only one chainring. But – and this is a big but –  Do you want to take the 5-10 % risk of your chain falling off for the sake of another 100 grams? Even the keenest weight weenie knows that saving 100 grams isn’t much use, if you don’t have a chain to pedal. It can happen, and usually when you least want it to.

I hear that they are making chainrings for MTBs with bigger sprockets or something to stop chains jumping off.

Chopping off the end of handlebars

zipp-handlebar-cut

I’ve never done this before. I’ve never been able to work up the courage to buy an expensive set of handlebars just to be able to cut off the drops. But, this year, I’ve taken the plunge and bought some Zipp Sl handlebars. Straight away I got out the hacksaw and cut them off. The problem with buying such a lightweight handlebar is that when you cut off the drops, you only save a measly 50 grams. Still it’s 50 grams of weight saving, and perhaps it will be a better position for pulling on the handlebars.

A hard way to save 50grams

A hard way to save 50 grams

I’ve just slightly worried I cut off too much.. You can always cut off more, but sticking stuff back on isn’t going to work.

Shortening the chain

chain-links

12 grams from an Ultegra chain

With taking off the outer chain ring, I realised I could shorten the chain – saving weight and improving chain tension. Unfortunately, in my zeal to save weight, I took out five links and it became too short. I couldn’t use it because the rear dérailleur would have groaned in the biggest sprocket. I had to put some links back in. But, using a multi-tool chain splitter I managed to damage the chain. After using once up Leith Hill, I had to throw away and start again with a new chain. I think it has about 2 links less than usual, weight saving 12 grams.

Cost – more than it should have done. Moral of the story – never do bike maintenance yourself!

Vittoria Crono Time Trial tubular

– 700*22 – claimed – 165 gram. I have one on front. At moment I have Veloflex sprinter on rear. (225 grams). But, will switch to Chrono for both nearer the national. That will be an extra 60 grams. (Mind you when I weighed it, it came in at 185grams, that is with glue on.)

Until 2012, I used Continental Competition in hill climbs, just because they were what I used for time trials. Continental Competition at 240 grams are a good workhorse, but not designed for hill climbs. I was throwing away 180 grams of rotational weight because I was riding nice thick puncture proof tubulars. On the positive side, I never punctured in a race or warming up.

Wheels

Zipp 202 Rear - 604 grams total: (rear Zipp – I got for £750). Expensive, but a good solid wheel, lightweight and strong.

Lightweight front

ax-lightness-wheel-front-weight

Lightweight wheel with Tune hub and AX lightness wheels – weight of wheel 345 grams (without tub). This wheel is really light, you can pick up with your little finger. This really makes a difference. Sometimes you test equipment and you can’t tell the difference, but replace a training wheel with a light wheel wand you will fly!

Why Do People Say Weight off Your Wheels Counts Double?

I think the reason  is to do with acceleration and the fact the top of your wheel travels twice as fast as your bicycle (Don’t quite understand this, obviously I didn’t pay any attention in GCSE Physics). To accelerate, the energy taken to push the wheel is greater than for the bike. Once you have maintained a constant speed, then the weight of your bike and wheels count for the same. But, if you slow down and then accelerate, the energy to move the mass of your wheels is greater than for the bike.

If you can try and maintain constant speed and effort that is better. But for a twisting climb of varying gradients then the effort to move your wheels will be proportionately greater.

Even if I don’t understand the science, when you put on a 363 gram wheel you do notice the difference climbing.

Weight saving tips you might not want to try at home

Jim Henderson told me he spent one hill climb season weighing up whether he should risk riding with 4 chainring bolts rather than the more traditional five. He knew he could probably get away with 4, but in the end – he played it safe.

I once got an AX lightness stem (26.9) and didn’t realise it was old size. This meant I had to get a standard handlebar, but I’d run out of money for AX lightness handlebar, so I got some other model which was 27.0 – resulting combination tended to slip. Not good – sold both on ebay later!

Never forget, lighter bike is not necessarily faster. Rigidity and power can make more difference.

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Zipp SL + SLC Handlebars

I’ve been looking into handlebars for the hill climb bike. I need to buy another pair because I want to chop the ends off (I won’t be using drops in upcoming hill climbs). It’s not the most efficient way to save 50 grams, but it might be easier to pull on the hoods as well.

I looked at the Zipp handlebars, as usual there is a confusing array of names Zipp SL, Zipp Contour SL, and Zipp SLC. There’s not a huge variation in each. Zipp SL the lightest. Zipp SLC the most rigid. Also, be careful – Zipp sizes are centre to centre. A 42cm ZIpp (Centre to centre) is a 44cm in most other brands.

 

Zipp SL

zipp-sl-main

Zipp SL is the lighest handlebar it is 31.8 only in the middle of the bars allowing a more aerodynamic profile away from the centre.It means that you can put clip on aerobars on them. Zipp specificially say you can’t – it isn’t built with suitable clamping point. This is more of a climbers bar, with focus on lightweight, but they are still reasonably stiff.
Features:
• Weight (SS 42 cm): 170g
• Clamp Diameter: 31.8
• Clamp Width: 48mm
• Short-Shallow Bend: Yes
• Clip Compatible: No
• Max Brake Lever Torque: 8NM
• Max Torque Clamping to Bar: 8NM
• Drop style: SS

RRP €313 – Zipp at Zipp.com

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Combe Gibbet

Combe Gibbet is number 25 in 100 greatest hills.  It is a  fairly short climb, averaging just under 10% to take you to the top of Combe Gibbet / Walbury hill.

I rode up Combe Gibbet on Sunday purely by accident. I was racing up Walbury hill which is an alternative ascent to the top of that hill. The weather was too hot to warm up on rollers so I preferred to warm up on roads instead. I took the road from Inkpen and went in any direction that was uphill and not on the race course. From Inkpen there is a gradual ascent, and then a bit of downhill before the short, sharp shock of Combe Gibbet. It averages 9% for 0.5 miles. But, towards the end of the climb, there is a good section of 16%. Pre race I was trying to ride up the climb, without going over 300 watts- which is a bit difficult to do without going at low cadence. I don’t like warming up too hard, I prefer to keep it fairly steady.

Combe_Gibbet_views_joolz-_east

Photo Joolz

The weather was perfect so I enjoyed the climb and view from the top. The climb was quite quiet, very few cars, and the odd horserider. If I’d known I was riding Combe Gibbet I may have taken some photos. But, I also had a race to concentrate on.

Combe Gibbet

  • Distance 0.5 miles
  • Average gradient: 9%
  • Max Gradient: 16%
  • Summit Height of 889ft / 270m
  • Height gain 259ft / 79m
  • Strava segment – official 100 climbs of Combe Gibbet

After the race I went back up Combe Gibbet to do a bit more training. From the top of the hill, I headed south in the general direction of Andover. It was a strange descent, you kept thinking you would come to the bottom of the descent, but it kept on going down. One thing about hills in this part of the country is your never sure where the starting point is. It’s a great part of the country to cycle around. Quiet lanes, interesting roads, decent climbs, but nothing too taxing.

Combe Gibbet points of interest

Combe Gibbet is a popular tourist attraction. Wikipedia tells us a gibbet was erected in 1676 for the purpose of gibbeting the bodies of murderers – George Broomham and Dorothy Newman. The gibbet was placed in such a prominent location as a warning, to deter others from committing similar crimes. So if you want to see a replica of a Seventeenth Century Gibbet, there’s an added motivation to climb the hill.

Walbury hill is the highest point in Hampshire.

Combe Gibbet from the south

Combe Gibbet from the south is a good climb. If you want there is a several mile incline averaging about 1%. But, the climb proper only lasts for the last 1km.

The last 0.7 miles averages 7% and it gets steeper towards the top. The last half a mile averaging 10%

  • Distance 0.7 miles
  • Height gain: 240ft / 73 m
  • Max gradient: 12%

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Veloflex record tubulars review

Veloflex Record and Veloflex Sprinters are a top of the range tubular good for track, time trials and hill climbs.

The Veloflex Record is made with a high TPI (350) which is one factor giving a potential high quality fast supple tyre . The Veloflex Record is perhaps best known tub, but the Veloflex Sprinter is also a good choice for a fast tub with an extra layer of puncture protection.

The Veloflex Record weighs 190 grams, the Veloflex Sprinter 225 grams. The Sprinter is the better all rounder choice, the Record is more of a specialist front wheel tyre.

In rolling resistance tests, I’ve heard the Veloflex Record gives good results, though I couldn’t find any studies.

Veloflex Record

veloflex-record-28-tub

  • Use: Time trial – Track
  • TPI: 350
  • Pressure: 9/10 bar
  • Protection Belt: Calicot puncture resistant layer
  • Casing: Compressed Pes/Co corespun
  • Rubber tread: Natural rubber exclusive compound
  • Inner tube: Latex low rolling resistance
  • Valve: Presta 36mm with changeable core
  • Claimed weight: 190g
  • Calicot puncture resistant layer
  • Veloflex Record at Wiggle RRP £97.00

 

Veloflex Sprinter

  • Use: Road Racing / timetrial
  • TPI: 350
  • Pressure: 7/10 bar
  • Protection Belt: Calicot puncture resistant layer
  • Casing: Compressed Pes/Co corespun
  • Rubber tread: Natural rubber exclusive compound
  • Inner tube: Latex low rolling resistance
  • Valve: Presta 36 mm with changeable core
  • Claimed weight – 225 grams
  • Veloflex Sprinter at Wiggle – £72.68 RRP £90.

 

The Veloflex Sprinter is a development from an older version called the servizio corse.

It is 22″ width, which would be close to my preferred choice – perhaps would prefer a 23″ or even 24″ – given trend towards wider tyres. For hill climbs 22″ is a pretty good width.

The Record seemed a good choice for a rear wheel in time trials. Rear wheels tend to wear more quickly (due to more weight on rear of bike) and also seem more prone to puncture. If you want to go all out for speed, you could put Veloflex Record on both wheels, but I tend to be more risk averse – you can’t win if you have to walk home with a puncture. I put the Veloflex Record on my disc wheel for a few time trials in the summer, and have now moved it to my Zipp 202 rear wheel that I use for hill climbs.

It feels faster than a Continental Competition (which is the tub I’ve used most frequently in TTs). It is also lighter. After doing several races over gravelly roads, the tyre still looks in good shape, without any scratches.

I’ve chosen this tyre for hill climb season, though a couple of weeks before national, I may switch to a lighter rear tyre like the Vittoria Chrono. At this stage in the season, I’d rather have the puncture protection than 25 grams of weight – even if it is rotational.

Like many high quality, low weight tubulars, it seems to lose air pressure pretty quickly. In a four hour race, this could be a bit of a problem. In four hours it can easily lose 10 PSI. It means I tend to blew it up slightly more than my targeted PSI before a race. But, since it’s a guess what tyre pressure to use anyway, it’s not such a big deal.
veloflex-sprinter-tread

Tread. smooth running tubular.

veloflex-sprinter

It looks good – black and gum coloured. Simple design like a tyre should be. I believe there is a Veloflex Extreme which is same tyre but black sidewall rather than gum coloured – don’t know why you need a separate model for different coloured sidewall.

It’s actually slightly muddy after yesterdays race. Despite driest September on record I still managed to find a muddy puddle at the top of Walbury hill.

Conclusion

I bought the Veloflex Record on the recommendation of a fellow tester, and so far I would be happy to recommend too. No punctures and good performance in time trials and hill climbs.

The big drawback to the Veloflex Record is the cost at a RRP of £90, it’s a case of hoping that the price justifies it’s value. The old law of cycle racing is never skimp on a good tyre / tubular. But this still stretches the wallet a little more than I would like. Still if does offer good combination of rolling resistance, weight and puncture resistance it will be  money well spent. The Veloflex Record costs £97.00 and seems to be interesting in getting record for most expensive tubular. I may try it on front wheel next year though.

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Newbury R.C Hill climb – Walbury hill

The Newbury R.C. hill climb on Walbury hill was the first time the club had made the climb an ‘open’ event. But, it still felt like the atmosphere of a local club event. Newbury CC were out in force with 30+ entries from the promoting club. It meant another good start sheet with 70 riders, including quite a few juniors and juveniles. When I got into hill climbing a few years ago, it was quite common to have entries of 10-20 people – entries were so low, you kind of thought hill climbs were a real ‘specialist’ / ‘nutcase’ type of cycling. But, in the past couple of years, entries have really been on the up. Perhaps it’s a combination of British cycling success, and the popularity of GPS tools like strava segments. These days, courtesy of Strava – everyone’s become hill climber;  so I guess it’s only natural to make the next step from virtual competition to real competition.

start

It was a good friendly event, with enthusiastic support. If you like chasing Strava records on your own, you will be surprised at how much more fun it is doing it with other people.

After just one short – but intense – effort yesterday at Leith Hill, I was relatively fresh, and I had the luxury of a short 45 minutes drive. It is one of the closest hill climbs to Oxford, and saves a drive up the M6. Although it’s fairly close, I haven’t been on these roads before, so I took an opportunity to ride Walbury hill, just before the race got underway. I did take some tribars after looking at the profile of climb. But, after a warm up on the climb I thought there was no point in using them.

view-top

Walbury hill

There is a 7% gradient to start off with, then a very shallow gradient of just a couple of percent. As you turn left near the top, it starts to get properly steep, giving a hard test for the last minute or so to the top of the hill. The average gradient for the hill is 5.5%

Perhaps because of the shallow gradient, I again didn’t go too hard in the middle section, but as the hill became steeper I tried to give it everything. Unfortunately, my gears have been playing up. I had to put on a new chain last night, but it still gave a horrible change at the start of the steep bit – a bit of a knock to the momentum, but fortunately it stayed in place for the remainder. Just when you crested the hill – there was still a short flat bit before the line. I stopped the clock in 3.55 – beating the course record set by James Wilson VC St Raphael CC (4.09) just a few minutes before.

finish

It was another great day for a hill climb. The weather was perfect and the view from the top of Walbury hill excellent. There was a good crowd of spectators at the top. I even got interviewed by a local radio station – I hope I was able to say something useful.

There was an excellent prize list with sponsorship from a variety of sources, including Newbury News, which gave a good first prize. I also won a copy of Mountain High for breaking the course record. I must admit to being doubly relieved not to end up with the Lantern Rouge prize. As a strict vegetarian I think I would have struggled to spend a £20 voucher for a local butchers.But, I don’t think I was ever favourite for Lantern Rouge. Maryka Sennemya (Kingston Wheelers) was first lady so it was the same result as yesterday.

results

It was good to chat to the Newbury locals, and great to see so much enthusiasm for a hill climb.

After the race I put on training wheels and went up Walbury hill a steeper way and over the top down into Hampshire. There was the longest gradual descent of 1% I’ve ever come across.

Combe Gibbet #25

A bit of an unexpected bonus was riding Combe Gibbet. I rode it before the race warming up and after the race. I didn’t realise it was one of the 100 climbs, until I got home. 100 Climbs

Photos, results, and possibly even videos to come soon after I’ve watched Men’s world road race

 

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Kingston Wheelers CC hill climb

Kingston Wheelers hill climb on Leith hill.

It was  another balmy September day. 22+ degrees as I was warming up on the turbo. It was almost too hot and sweaty for the turbo – not usually a major problem of the hill climb season. As I was driving to Forest Green, I saw lots of cyclo sportive riders having a good time cycling up the Surrey hills. There was part of me slightly jealous of the sportive riders – it was definitely a good day for a five hour steady ride, instead I was facing the timekeeper and three and half minutes of hill climb hell.

start

The day before, I put on a new chain, I tried to take off outer chain ring, but you seem to need two of those hexaganol wrench things so I was unable to do it. The new chain wasn’t so good job either. Firstly, I made it too short, then I had to put some links back on. It was working well on training wheel, but when I put Zipp 202 racing wheel on, shortly before the start, it started to jump a little. I don’t know why because it has a fairly new cassette. Still the bike was quite stripped down and light for the time keeper. I saw my minute man go off with great gusto. He probably set off faster than I planned to start.

This is the third time I’ve done Leith hill climb. Previous times were 2012 (3.33), 2013 (3.33.1)

  • Distance 0.9mi
  • Avg Grade 8.0%
  • Max Gradient – 18%
  • Height gain 115m

I took the race quite seriously – because it’s a similar distance to the national on Pea Royd Lane, if not quite as steep.

I set off fairly steady, and seemed to hold back for quite a while. Then as you turn left the gradient increases a little and it was time to increase the effort. Round the corner there was a great crowd of people cheering you on. I just saw a sea of white and blue Kingston Wheelers jerseys.

watford-velo-leith

Photo: Thomas, Watford Velo photos

By this point it was getting a bit of a blur, I was able to hold quite a good pace and speed all the way to the line. As I crossed the line I had quite a bit of momentum – it was here after the finish line, I caught my minute and two minute men who were rolling slowly over the line. I thought I hadn’t paced it so well, I wasn’t as dead as last year. I felt I should have tried to go faster earlier. I also thought the course record was 3.23 for some reason.

Anyway back at the HQ I found I had taken six seconds off course record with a 3.27. From being slightly miffed at not getting the pacing right, I was quite pleased. It was definitely a quick day – no tailwind, just warm and muggy which seemed to make it fast. It would have been really interesting to have power meter from last year. I paced it a bit differently, but perhaps this year was better strategy, I don’t know. Still the finish seemed to come along a bit quicker than expected.

Compared to last year, at half way point I was 8 seconds slower. In the last half I must have been 14 seconds quicker. Quite a different race.

Anyway it was a great event, and good to see a strong club like Kingston Wheelers encouraging so many to take part in a relatively minority cycling discipline. Markya Semenya (Kingston Wheelers) was first lady, so there were two national hill climb champions winning in the same race – not so common, I imagine – we both had a national jersey, which was good.

There were some good times from quite a few people, and quite a few novices to hill climbs having a go for first time.

Afterwards I rode up Coldharbour hill.

[photos, results and proof-reading to come later]

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Wiggo – the bearded wonder

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 07.51.13

Recently I wrote a post on how to improve aerodynamics in time trials – amongst many other things I suggested shaving off your beard will add a few seconds. So just for the record – it shows how little I know about time trials.

Bradley Wiggins was in imperious form to win the World Time Trial Championship yesterday – I was really pleased to see Wiggins win. He has one of the most impressive all round palmeres in cycling. It’s a rare defeat for Tony Martin – and after seeing him repeatedly drop the entire peleton in the Tour de France it’s almost comforting to know that even Martin says of himself – ‘I’m not a machine’

The good news is that the World time trial championship jersey may be riding up and down a dual carriageway near you in 2015. Wiggins cheekily hinted he might be riding a few domestic British time trials – so watch out! BBC Interview with Wiggins

Result:

1. Bradley Wiggins (GB) 56mins 25.52secs

2. Tony Martin (Ger) +26secs

3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) +41secs

4. Vasil Kiryienka (Bel) +48secs

5. Rohan Dennis (Aus) +58secs

Selected other:

20. Alex Dowsett (GB) +2mins 35secs

 

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Benefits of shaving legs (cycling)

Many people asked about the benefits of shaving your legs. I was surprised by the aero benefits of shaving legs. According to this video, in tests at Specialized wind tunnel, one rider saved an estimated 82 seconds saved in a 40km time trial. The average for less hairy cyclists was still close to a minute. I suppose it’s always worth remembering that an estimate 90% of aero drag comes from your body not bike. The good news is that a razor is an awful lot cheaper than buying a new bike. You would have to spend a lot money to get 82 seconds saving from a new bike.

Would be interesting to know about shaving arms. Something never done in the pro peleton. Though, I know Chris Boardman said he shaved his arms for the world hour record attempt.

I’ve updated my posts – ways to improve aerodynamics, which had nearly 20 ideas, but no mention of this – which has probably highest benefit / cost.

Just in case you need it:

Other reasons to shave legs include:

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Porlock hill climb 2014

Sunday 21st September was the Tanks Direct Porlock Toll Road Hill climb organised by Minehead CC. After its debut year in 2013, it has grown into quite an impressive event, with both the main hill climb and supporting Go Ride events for youngsters and the Porlock Pedal for families.

Porlock Toll road was closed for the day, thanks to Porlock Estates. It meant a great venue for the race on completely closed roads. The road is a gradual 6% gradient, with a couple of hairpins. Mostly it is in the shadow of trees, though near the top you get some great views of the sea down below the hill.

start

Porlock Hill climb (toll road)

  • Distance – 4.1 miles
  • Avg Grade – 5.5%
  • Max gradient – 8%
  • Lowest Elev 160ft
  • Highest Elev – 1,360ft (414m)
  • Elevation gain (370 metres)

This year 101 riders entered, making it one of the biggest hill climbs in the country. The organisers have really made an effort to make it in a comprehensive event, which feels much more than just entering another race. There was a very generous £3,000 prize fund courtesy of the main sponsors Tanks Direct. There was also a starting ramp, personalised  numbers and plenty of people around the HQ. Teas were provided by the local Women’s institute, and the village of Porlock seemed quite happy to invite lots of cyclists – which is always a bonus. Perhaps the best aspect of the event, is to see junior riders encouraged to come along and participate in the opportunity to ride a closed road event.

pedal-2

After the main hill climb and prize presentations, 40+ youngsters rode up the hill as part of the British Cycling – Merlin Go Ride event. To finish the day, a Porlock Pedal allowed all to cycle up the hill at whatever pace they felt. There was quite a buzz around the HQ with many  bikes and people of all age.

start-go-ride

 

Helped to lower the average age from your typical time trial.

pj

Though a few of the usual suspects were out in force too.

Good to see a few of the Bristol South riding fixed.

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Britwell hill

Britwell hill is a short 0.6 miles hill, averaging 9% and having 85 metre of height gain. It is 15% at the steepest, near the top. It has been used in local club hill climbs for quite a long time.  It is a simple hill – going straight up the Chiltern ridge with no attempt at devising any kind of hairpin – it provides an imposing view as you approach from the village of Britwell.

britwell-hill-

Britwell hill – High Wycombe Club hill Climb

The road surface is good and traffic is light. Though a big drawback is that the road is quite narrow at the bottom, in places it can be hard for a bike and car to squeeze past. I was able to do several intervals without any problems, but you might be unlucky.

A windmill near Britwell hill was apparently featured in the film ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ Maybe the car starts flying when making the descent of the hill. You can certainly get a good speed going down, though watch out for approaching cars on the narrow bit.

I rode out Tuesday to have a go at a few intervals. Irritatingly I got the theme tune to ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ in my head. As much as I admire any film with the lead character of Dick Van Dyke and a person called ‘Truly Scrumptious’, it’s not a theme song you particularly want going around in your head when you’re trying to do all out 2 minute intervals.

Fortunately, when you do an intense effort, everything gets blocked from the mind – even the most catchy song lyrics. That’s another bonus of hill climbs I’d never thought of before. Continue Reading →

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