2 minute intervals

I’ve spent two weeks in NY. I did a little training on Dougleston Parkway – a short hill, which takes 1.30 if you really go for it. It’s a bit like Monsal Head, except instead of the beautiful Peak District, you have as a backdrop – innumerable concrete flyovers,  a smelly sanitation dump and cars driving like only crazy New Yorkers like to.


Quite often you get the passing draft of a big smelly dumpster truck, though the benefit of the passing draft is negated by the nervousness about breathing in within a 20 foot radious. Refuse collection is essential for any city – it’s just that we don’t tend to do high intensity intervals next to it. Still, I got four good training sessions in during the 12 days. Just about enough to feel I didn’t fall behind in the general scheme of things.


Monsal Dale

Continue Reading →


Cycling in Surrey Hills

I last rode Box Hill in 2012, a few days before the London Olympics. It was a memorable time for British sport and cycling in particular. I’d been looking for an excuse to go back. Simon Warren’s guide of S.E. England climbs showed quite a lot of climbs around Dorking I haven’t done before. After Yorkshire hills last week I was on a roll for finding new climbs so  good weather encouraged me to drive an hour from Oxford to Mickleham to try and range of different climbs on the Surrey downs.


Box Hill

First climb of the day was Box Hill. Everyone knows Box Hill now. 2 miles @ 5% It’s a beautiful climb, it’s iconic, it’s wonderfully engineered and a delight to ride. Yet, there’s the Yorkshire Hill climber in me who sees this wonderful natural hill and thinks – wouldn’t it be better just to throw a few cobbles up this surface and make a hill that goes straight from bottom to top?


If this was West Yorkshire, they wouldn’t have bothered with these ‘European hairpins. But, made a proper hill climb.

Having said all that, I was worried by a  sign at the bottom of Box Hill – warning of loose chipping – max 20mph, but fortunately, they haven’t chucked a load of gravel on the smooth surface of Box Hill yet!


Box Hill

After Box Hill, it was over Ranmore Common and up the long climb of Coldharbour Lane from Dorking. It took quite a while to find the start of the climb because of Dorking’s one way system. But, it is a good climb, with varying degrees of steepness. It’s a long old drag to the top of Leith Hill

Coldharbour Lane


Coldharbour Lane


Coldharbour Lane

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Average gradient: 4%
  • Height gain: 125m (132m total climbing because there is some descent near top)

From Leith Hill I made my way to Cranleigh and Barhatch Lane, which is said to be the toughest climb in Surrey. A long drag then a real sting in the tail with a 21% gradient to finish. Continue Reading →


Hour record cycling uphill

This is a training session, which is a bit different – A bit of fun or a bit of torture, depending on your point of view.

Pick a hill (less than 5km) and see how many vertical metres you can climb in an hour. It is like a mini Everesting attempt all condensed into one hour. It will make excellent hill climb training, good training for a 25 mile TT and also good training for long Alpine climbs.

The 5km limit is purely arbitrary and based on the fact most accessible climbs in the UK are around 1-2km. Short hills make it harder because you have to do  more u-turns and more descending. If you wanted to  maximise vertical ascent in an hour, you would start at the foot of the Col du Tourmalet and see how far you can get up in an hour. A really top pro, may be able to manage close to 1,500m – 1,600m in an hour. Which is equal to  VAM (velocità ascensionale media) – basically vertical meters climbed per hour. But, in the UK, there are no such climbs.

The optimum hill

The optimum hill would probably have a constant gradient of around 12-13% All your time is climbing, you don’t have to pedal on descent and you can probably do all the climbing in the saddle.

The important thing is to be safe when doing u-turns at the top and bottom of hill. The road needs to be quiet and good views of traffic. It’s only a training session.

Chinnor Hill reps


Chinnor Hill during 2014 Tour of Britain

I chose Chinnor Hill because it is near enough to Oxford to cycle out and gives a reasonable height gain of 119m / 9% average per lap.

  • Distance: 0.8 miles / 1.3km
  • Height gain: 393ft/ 118m
  • Average gradient: 9%
  • Max 16%

It also has a convenient roundabout at the bottom of the hill, to make safer u-turns at bottom of hill. Continue Reading →


The happy motorist

Yesterday, I was riding on a small lane from Bolton Abbey to Burnsall. It’s a fairly idyllic location and, as it was a recovery ride, I was taking it fairly steady. At one point a car came towards me on this narrow stretch and didn’t slow down even a fraction.


On the positive side he didn’t knock me over into the ditch. But, it was passing at speed far too close for comfort or safety. At this point it is all a familiar tail of woe – something most cyclists can relate to. But, a minute later I saw another car in the distance. Firstly, you start to fear a repeat performance, but this car came to a stop. It was quite a generous wait – because I still had a considerable distance to where he was kindly waiting.

In a spirit of mutual good deeds. I got out of the saddle, rocked from side to side and pretended to sprint to where the car was waiting. I may have been pulling a few Tommy Voeckler style gurnings into the bargain. When I got to the car, the driver was literally rolling around with laughter. He was mimicking my shoulder rolling and giving me a big thumbs up. I wish I could have taken a picture of his face, I’ve never seen such a happy motorist. He really thought it was funny that this cyclist was sprinting along to speed up his wait. (I wasn’t going fast at all.)

It just struck me the different attitudes you can meet on the road. For the sake of 3 seconds, the first car refuses to slow down and just ploughs through as if I was an invisible cyclist. The second driver was happy to wait an extra 15 seconds for me to arrive. But, it was the second driver who got so much joy from the whole experience.


Alas I’m back in Oxfordshire. Just as Yorkshire / Calderdale was getting very interesting.

It seems there are no shortage of really hard climbs around West Yorkshire / Calderdale area. I wish I had stayed in Yorkshire for a few more days. Since posting about Trooper Lane – readers have advised of more tempting climbs and routes.

For example:


Trooper Lane

Trooper Lane is a short, steep cobbled climb in Halifax. It makes a good claim to be the toughest cobbled climb in the Yorkshire area – possibly the whole of England. With contenders like Thwaites Brow, this is tough competition.


Trooper Lane towards the top

I saw Trooper Lane on the Cycle Show a few weeks ago, with Simon Warren going up and describing the climb.

I have also been reading James Allen’s 50 Classic Cycle Climbs in Yorkshire / Peak District, which includes Trooper Lane.

So it was definitely on my bucket list of stupidly hard climbs, that for some reason I feel a compulsion to seek out and ride up as fast as possible.

Trooper Lane

  • Distance: 0.4 miles
  • Average gradient: 18%
  • Height gain: 125 metres
  • My time: 4.09
  • Average speed: 6.5 mph
  • Gear used: 39*28.
  • Cadence 58 rpm
  • Location: Halifax

Continue Reading →


Yellow Jersey Club – Edward Pickering

yellow-jersey-clubI was reading ‘The Yellow Jersey Club‘ during the Tour de France. Short biographies of those who have won the Tour de France in the past couple of decades. It started off in the post-Merckx era with Bernard Thevenet (1975 – 77).

I don’t think I even knew Bernard Thevenet had won the Tour de France. So I learnt something new for a start. The man who dethroned Merckx was not exactly another Merckx. He had his own idiosyncrasies and perhaps lacked the steely determination and need to win that a Merckx or Hinault had. During his career as a rider he was very popular with the French public, which is surprising given his current relative anonymity. Interesting to compare to say Bernard Hinault who only really won the hearts of the French when he started to be less than invincible, towards the end of his career. Continue Reading →


Oxnop Scar and Fleek Moss

Today was good weather in the Yorkshire Dales so I drove out to Kettlewell and  headed off for some of the big Yorkshire climbs.


I could have cycled from Menston, but driving to Kettlewell saved 50 rolling miles and it got me closer to the big hills. The surprising thing is that it’s not actually that much quicker driving to Kettlewell than it is cycling. 1 hour in the car. Cycling – 1 hour 20 minutes. Still I got to the first climb of Fleet Moss nice and fresh. Continue Reading →


Thwaites Brow – cobbles and climbs

It’s the time of the year to start thinking about hill climb training. Whenever I start to do hill climbs in summer, there’s always part of me that thinks – why do I do this? Perhaps this will be my last year… But, after a few weeks, these thoughts fall away.

August is a gentle introduction to hill climb training, not 100% all out efforts, just a few unstructured rides – up and down different hills. If possible a chance to get into some different terrain before the more specific intervals up the same local hill.

After the end of TT season, it’s time to get used to the road bike and climbing up steep hills, with lower cadence, and using the whole body to drag you up the climb. It’s all very different to getting into an aero tuck and maintaining a metronomic cadence for 1-4 hours.

My parents live in Menston, which is perfectly situated for hill climb training. You can go anywhere in a 360 degree radius and find innumerable steep climbs to test your legs. Today, I threw a dice on the map and headed off south towards Keighley.


I said August is a gentler introduction to hill climb training, but for some reason, my first hill interval of the day – I chose Thwaites Brow a steep cobbled climb from the outskirts of Keighley, which could never be considered a gentle introduction – even with new a Emonda, tailwind and nice bit of sun.. Continue Reading →


Cycling climbs of South-East England

Cycling Climbs of South East England is the first of the regional guides to road cycling hill climbs in England. It follows the same format as the best-selling 100 climbs. In fact the regional guide includes 50% of the hills in the first two volumes. It means for owners of the original books, there is repetition, but also all the climbs in one place with quite a few new ones too.

The South East includes Oxfordshire and some of the Chiltern hills I know and ride so often – climbs like Chinnor Hill, Muswell Hill and Whiteleaf. The South East also includes the south coast of Sussex and Kent – somewhere I very rarely cycle. Probably the last time I rode near the south coast was the Brighton Mitre hill climb on Steyning Bostal in 2006.

The regional guide didn’t give the same thrill as the first 100 climb book. Because many of the climbs are now well known. But, there are still a few new climbs, I’d not done before. Last week, I checked out Whitchurch Hill- from Pangbourne I’d never ridden around there before, despite being a mere 25 miles south of Oxford. I nice little 3 minute climb with good road surface. Oxford is certainly spoilt for climbs. I will probably end up buying the South West, because Oxford is as close to the Cotswolds as the Chilterns.


The South East doesn’t have all the big climbs of Yorkshire or Wales, but there’s certainly enough interesting climbs to make a good edition out of. It also features many climbs which feature in the London Olympics and Surrey classic (e.g. Box Hill, Leith Hill) And if you watch the Prudential Ride London classic, it shows you don’t need a col du Tourmalet to make an exciting race. Continue Reading →


Rear light for aero seat post

I spent a lot of time trying to find a light that would fit around an aero seat post. The most popular option seems to be to put a light under the saddle. But, I didn’t want that because I often have a saddle bag there or possibly a rear bottle.

Exposure rear flare

One of the few which seemed to fit was this exposure rear flare. It is a fairly bright light with 75 lumen red beam. It can be seen from quite a distance. It is quite popular amongst time trialists because it is quite small and aero, but gives off a reasonable light that can be seen from quite a distance.

exposure-flare Continue Reading →


Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

free hit counter