Snake Pass

Today was Snake Pass hill climb organised by Glossop Kinder Velo. Also, during the day, two Glossop Kinder Velo riders Paul and Ben were making an attempt to ‘Everest‘ Snake Pass – 27 times 326m to get the 8,800m


The hill climb course J9/5 is

  • Distance 3.3 miles
  • Average gradient – 6%
  • Max gradient – 9%
  • Height gain: 326 metres

It is a classic ‘Alpine’ style climb. Long, steady and very little variation in gradient. You can do the climb in the same gear all the way up; it is also a climb where you can sit in the saddle for the whole duration of the climb.


2014 Race

I arrived back in England at 12pm Sat afternoon. Just 23 hours before the start of the race. It seemed like a good idea at the time to enter a day after flying back – though there were times yesterday when a 6.30am start didn’t seem so appealing. Fortunately, the jet lag wasn’t too bad, and I made it up to Glossop in good time. This year there was a good entry with 80 riders signed up to have a go at Snake Pass. I did my usual unscientific warm up cycling around Glossop before about 10 minutes on the turbo and then made off to the start. It’s always nice to get the hill climb wheels out (front wheel weighs 360gram) though for some reason it had a heavy Continental Competition tub on, and I didn’t have time to change.


Glossop from near hill

I made a steady start holding back a little, knowing that a 12 minute climb is quite different to shorter efforts. Even though I held back, I noticed power still fell away on the second half of the climb, it took increasing efforts to maintain the speed, even though the gradient eases ever so slightly. I was pretty popped at the top, and pleased to get under 12 minutes.


I finished in a time of 11.51. My slowest time up Snake Pass, though only 15 seconds off last year. I seem to remember in 2013 there was an even stronger tailwind, so maybe about the same fitness as last year.

It’s always a relief to get first hill climb of the season under the belt. A similar level to last year is a good starting point for next two months.

2nd place was Adam Kenway (Team Zenith – ) Adam has had a good season on the road, with many top 5 positions and a few good scalps along the way. 3rd was Sam Clark of Buxton CC, who is organising next week’s event up Long Hill. 1st junior was Wilf Sargeant of West Pennine CC, 2nd junior was David Murphy. In the women’s event Joanna Blakely (GB Cycles) again pipped Vanessa Whitfield of Velo Club St Raphael.

(if memory serves me right)

Previous results up Snake Pass

  • 2012 – 11.40 – 1st. CR
  • 2013 – 11.36.6 – 1st CR (390 watts average)
  • 2014 – 11.51 – 1st

Everesting Snake Pass


No.1 on the startsheet was Paul Talbot of Glossop Kinder Velo. Paul had done a nice warm up for hill climb by doing about 8 rides up Snake Pass – even before he started to race. Paul and Ben started earlier in the day to try and ‘Everest’ Snake Pass. It will require 180 miles and 27 ascents. Continue Reading →

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Off to New York

I’m off to New York for a couple of weeks. Hot, humid, intense roads and happy drivers – not the perfect  acclimatisation for the upcoming British hill climb season. But, as long as a I can do a few hill intervals I’ll be happy.

There’s a lot of interest in ‘Everesting‘ at the moment. I got invited to speak on BBC Radio Surrey tomorrow morning 8.50am about the ‘Everesting’ of Box Hill. Unfortunately, I will be dipping into my first American breakfast of fried donuts and corn syrup muffins.

In my keyword statistics I see someone is googling ‘everesting Cat and Fiddle’ – Good luck with that one. That would be a lot of miles to Everest Cat and Fiddle. on the 3% slope. (and you have to cycle on the way down.)


Cat and Fiddle. One of England’s longest climbs.

To Everest Cat and Fiddle, you’re looking at 27 times * 330m, which is 13.2 miles per lap (up and down). Total of 343 miles. I wouldn’t recommend with a strong headwind.

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25 mile time trial

Today was the North Hampshire 25 mile time trial on the H25/8 Bentley course. The 25 mile TT is considered the ‘blue ribband’ of time trialling. The most popular distance, with the national championship being won by many of the great short distance time triallist – Alf Engers, D. Webster, G.Obree, Chris Boardman, Stuart Dangerfield e.t.c. The National 25 was a couple of weeks ago in the Lake District, where Matt Bottrill won in a time of 48.15, beating Matt Clinton 48.56. Bottrill had been trying for many years to win the event. Just shows, you never know when you might win the big one.

The competition record for 25 miles is 45.46 – Set by Michael Hutchinson in 2012. It was held by many years (1993-2009) by Chris Boardman with a 45.57  set on the A34 near Oxford! The women’s record is 50.01 set by Julia Shaw 2011.

My pb is 49.36 set on the Welsh course, at an average speed not much faster than my pb for 50 miles. For various reasons I haven’t done a 25 mile time trial since last July – over 13 months ago.

I’m moving into hill climb season with thoughts moving to hill intervals rather than one of riding at threshold, but the arrival of a new bike (Trek Speed Concept) was enough motivation to enter one final time trial and get to ride the bike in a race before putting in loft.


New bike

New bike – hope it doesn’t get as many scratches as my car!

I was number 100, off at 16.10. Just before I set off on the startline, I had a very short chat to my old friend Brian James (Brian is about 85 years young) (Brighton Mitre CC) who had started 91 minutes previously and had just finished as I was waiting to go to the startline. He had just enough time to tell me ‘good ride in the 100, shame you didn’t do 12 hour! Then it was time to set off.

I know the Bentley course well, and the prevailing wind seems to be from the West. It makes it a hard drag from the start – uphill into the wind. After the first turn at Holybourne roundabout. You pick up a nice tailwind, making a very fast 10 miles to the Chawton turn. I know from experience to hold back a bit with fast tailwind. I was held back a little by necessity a little – having only a 54 chainring. (my last bike had a 56). It meant I was spinning out at 39mph on the 54*11. It was that fast. I saved my biggest effort for the middle 10 miles all into the headwind. It was a big effort to go up the hill for a second time. The last five miles was so fast, you couldn’t really get everything out. But, I still felt a little sick at 20 miles, which is always a good sign for doing a 25 mile. Continue Reading →

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Everesting Great Dun Fell

In the latest Cycling Weekly, the main feature was on ‘Britain’s Latest Climbing Craze’ – Everesting. If you haven’t heard of Everesting, it is a challenge which involves cycling up and down a hill until you have completed the height gain of Mount Everest – 8.848 metres – that’s 14 times Great Dun Fell, 30* Hardknott Pass and 128* Swains Lane. Amongst other British riders, Laurie Lambeth was mentioned for everesting Great Dun Fell, and only a short while later, Everesting Hardknott Pass. Three weeks after Hardknott he managed his third Everest (an off road challenge) in 160 miles and 17 hours, which Laurie mentioned  ‘…it was a bit of a struggle’.


Great Dun Fell and Hardknott Pass are two of England’s most iconic climbs – and in their own way perhaps the hardest too. To Everest both is an impressive feat and just slightly mad into the bargain – just the kind of thing we like at

When I first heard of Everesting this summer, I nearly ditched all my plans to do the National 100 and plan carefully for the National Hill Climb. It just sounded such a cool thing to do. Well, there’s always time, but it seems British hills are going pretty quick – If you want to be the first to everest the hill of your choice, get training!

Thanks to Laurie for sharing his great report on the day of cycling up Great Dun Fell.

Everesting Great Dun Fell

by Laurie Lambeth

I first heard about “Everesting” on an internet forum around the beginning of June 2014. The idea instantly caught my imagination, 29,029ft of ascent in one single ride! Was this madness or genius? I decided either way I had to find out.

I live up in the North Pennines in a small village called Nenthead. Nenthead is an old mining village sitting at around 1,400ft, it is surrounded by hills, lots and lots of hills! It can be a cyclist’s heaven or maybe even hell depending on what you like? Luckily for me it’s the former.

I set about picking my Everesting hill. It didn’t take me long to decide I wanted to try and be the first to “Everest” Great Dun Fell and claim the highest road in England at 2,785ft. I’d ridden the fell once before, a tough experience in howling wind and so much fog I couldn’t even see the huge golf ball looking radar station that sits on the very top!


The hill climbs up 4.6 miles, it has an average gradient of 8% and in places kicks up to over 20%, by the time you reach the top you will have climbed around 2,070ft. For a successful Everest the hill would need to be climbed 15 times, this would total 140 miles and pass the 29,029ft target. This challenge would mean riding further, higher and for longer than anything I’d done before.

Whilst out on a Sunday training ride a few weeks after hearing about the challenge, I heard a rumour that I wasn’t the only one eyeing up Great Dun Fell for an Everest attempt. In fact I was told two people were attempting it that very same day! Thinking I might have missed my chance, I kept I close eye on the Everesting website for any new entries… two days passed but nothing appeared. The hill was still up for grabs, although with the extra interest, claiming it had now become a race against time.

Tuesday 24th June, Forecast looks ok for Thursday, not perfect but hopefully good enough to have a go. Thursday 26th I’m up at 5am and on my way to Knock at the bottom of Great Dun Fell. I park up at the bottom of the hill and waste no time getting kitted up. 6.30am I start the Garmin and it’s time to go…

Continue Reading →

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Rules and laws of cycling

Some notes on the rules and laws of cycling. Though, whatever rules are – there’s a lot to be said for using common sense to stay safe and respectful of other users.

Difference between legal requirements and advisory notes

The Highway code reflects some legal requirements.

At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights [Law RVLR regs 13, 18 & 24)] This is a law.

The Highway code also offers ‘advisory notices’ on how you should behave.

 You should keep both hands on the handlebars except when signalling or changing gear.

The difference is that there is no legal requirement to keep both hands on handlebars – so it is OK to drink a bidon and eat a banana without risk of prosecution… It could be considered ‘best practise’ to keep hands on handlebars.

Generally, rules and laws are there to promote a more harmonious and safer experience on the road. When people ignore road traffic laws it can be both frustrating and dangerous. But, whilst it’s important to be aware of all the legal issues around cycling – you can’t beat plain common sense. If you cycle blindly through a red traffic light whilst under the influence of drink, you shouldn’t need a law to tell you it’s a dangerous thing.

Also, the next time someone beeps at you for cycling two abreast or 1 metre from edge of road, it is quite a comfort to know that what you are doing is perfectly legal and within your rights, even advised by the department of transport.

Common Questions on Cycling and the Law


Is it legal to cycle on pavement?

No, it is illegal to cycle on pavement (footpath by side of road) unless, it is marked as shared use cycle path [Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129]. Cycling on pavements can lead to a fixed penalty notice of £30.

Can children cycle on pavements?

No. However, children under 16 are unlikely to be issued with fixed penalty notice. In theory, police and community support officers are supposed to use considerable discretion in dealing with people who cycle on the pavement. This is to reflect the difference between a young children seeking a safe passage on the pavement and others who might be cycling at high speed putting pedestrians at discomfort. See more at: Cycling on pavements

Can you cycle on Bridleways and Footpaths away from the road?

The law specifically relates to footways by the side of a highway. In theory, if you are on a footpath away from a road, it is legal to cycle – unless there is sign saying otherwise.

Can you cycle across a Pelican Crossings?

No. The highway code states ‘Do not ride across a pelican, puffin or zebra crossing. Dismount and wheel your cycle across.’ However, you can cycle across a ‘toucan crossing’ A toucan crossing is  a wider version of pelican crossings. It will have an extra light to indicate a green cyclist.

To confuse matters, some pelican crossings have an extra green light for cyclist. A green cyclist light gives the indication it would be OK to cross on the bike.

Can you cycle on Dual Carriageways?

  • Yes, unless there is a specific sign saying cyclists prohibited.
  • Motorways are prohibited to cyclists.

A no cycling sign, might appear on some three lane dual carriageways.

Can you cycle in Bus Lanes?


Yes. Most bus lanes are open to cyclists unless indicated otherwise by signs.

Can a Cyclist cycle in the middle of a lane?


watch for car doors opening.

There is no law stating where on the road a cyclist must be. There are different guidelines offered. One guideline is to cycle ‘well clear of kerb. 1 metre on in centre of the left lane (best position on road for cyclists) and (Direct Gov link) However, this would also mean ignoring small bicycle lanes.

Continue Reading →

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Fat lad at the back

I just watched a recording of Dragons Den featuring the cycling company – ‘Fat Lad at the Back’ – (FLAB)

I thought there presentation was quite good and was a bit surprised the grumpy old dragons didn’t get the potential of the label and market segment.

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 12.53.11

Fat lad at the back on BBC. Photo by BBC

If I was a dragon, I think I would have taken a punt, I think the cycle-wear has a lot of potential. It can carve a niche, amongst those MAMILs who will enjoy the irony of riding the label FLAB – not everyone’s cup of tea, but I suppose it makes a change from Rapha and Sky replica jerseys.

In a way being rejected by the Dragons, is probably one of the best bits of advertising they could get. I think people will like the label even more, now that the Dragons have said it won’t work. There’s nothing better than proving a few millionaires wrong.


Perhaps if I play my cards right, after the hill climb season, I could get my first official brand endorsement deal with  ‘Fat lad at the back’. It would be the ultimate post-modernist irony – whatever that is.

Fat Lad at the Back (FLAB) is a Yorkshire based firm which offers cyclewear to riders with up to a 60inch waist.  Founders Richard and Lynn Bye appeared on TV August 2014. One motivation for Fat Lad at the Back was the difficulty in getting good clothes for cyclists are bigger than the typical ‘cyclist dimensions’.

(though I could add, I’ve never been able to get arm warmers thin enough to stay up! though I can’t see a specialist cycling company being created to meet that niche…)

About Fat Lad at the Back

“1 long weekend, 3 fat lads, 4 alpine hills.

This was the alcohol infused challenge we set ourselves.

Our own Etape du pain, conceived of some misguided idea that 3 middle aged men in lycra, collectively weighing in excess of 280kg’s, could cycle Alpe D’Huez, Col de la Croix de Fer, Télégraphe and Galibier in 3 days.

Who’ll be last up the hills? We joked and laughed about having a jersey printed for the previous days fat lad at the back, a Yorkshire version of the Lantern Rouge.”

Fat Lad at the Back website


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Garmin Premium heart rate monitor

I bought a Polar heart rate monitor a few years ago (Polar FT1). I didn’t use it very much because:

  • The strap tended to slip down. You would tighten up the strap, but during the ride it would become loose and slip down
  • It took a long time for the heart rate to get detected. Also I often got randomly high heart rates, especially at the start of the ride, this may have been due to some kind of electrical interference
  • I didn’t make much use of heart rate numbers. Obviously when you try hard, your heart rate goes up – with a bit of a lag. But, I never really looked and never thought to make too much use of heart rate numbers. I never looked at it after a ride, and wouldn’t have really known what to have made of a heart rate file after a ride. I got out of the habit of wearing it, and it just sat in a cupboard.
  • I did use it on the rollers in the winter as a rough guide to effort when I didn’t have a power meter, but it often took 15 minutes for the heart rate to get going, and by then I was looking forward to finishing my rollers session.

I’ve been using a Garmin 500 for a few years, but have never thought to make use of the heart rate feature. When I bought, I just bought the Garmin, thinking I wouldn’t use the HR anyway.

For this hill climb season, I’m getting some coaching from Gordon Wright. He is keen on the science of sport and says looking at heart rate can be helpful. I decided to buy a Garmin compatible strap so that I would have power, speed and heart rate all on one file.

A quick look at reviews suggested the Garmin Premium was better and not much more expensive, so I bought that.


Wearing strap

It is comfortable for a heart rate monitor. I’ve not had it slip down chest. It is a little complicated to adjust, but once adjusted it seems more sturdy than the Polar. It seems to be made of pretty good material and has a feeling of durability and comfort. Once adjusted it will stay. Once fitted, it was quite easy to forget it was there; I haven’t had any chaffing or problems.

There is a garmin connector which just clips on to the front of the heart rate strap. To wash the heart rate strap, you can just un clip the device

Setting up

It was easy to set up. Just press and hold Menu on Garmin 500,

go to:  Settings – Bike Settings – Heart Rate – ANT+Heart rate. Select Yes and rescan. (Garmin 500 manual)
It recognised heart rate straight away.

So far I have not had any problems with heart rate interference. It seems accurate and quick to get going.

Note: I’m comparing a Polar – bought about three or four years ago. The model may have improved since then.

Using Heart Rate

One thing with heart rate is to check resting heart rate first thing in the morning. An elevated heart rate is one of potential signs of over-training. My resting heart rate this morning was around 45.

I doubt I will be looking at the heart rate whilst training or cycling. But, it may be an indication of something. I may even get to learn more about the benefits of using a heart rate monitor.


The Garmin Premium heart rate monitor strap is a nice piece of equipment. It fits well and has easy integration with a Garmin device like a Garmin 500.

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London – Surrey Classic 2014

I was impressed with the quality of the London Surrey Classic – This is exactly what you hope from a one day classic. Big splits in the fields and an increasingly small group contesting the finish. It makes it a game of cat and mouse, decided on the smallest of margins.


Photo Adam Bowie. Flickr

Philip Gilbert was undoubtedly the strongest of the riders on the hills, but his last dig in Wimbledon was not quite enough to drop the remaining five. It was fascinating seeing the three of Swift, Blythe and Cannondale rider trying to reclaim the 50 m gap to Gilbert and Alaphillipe upfront. Such a small gap, so agonisingly hard to close.


Photo Adam Bowie – (1)


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12 Champions of UK cycling

12 Champions by Peter Whitfield offers twelve different chapters on the great British cyclists of the post war period. It focuses on the domestic stars of both time trialling and road racing.

I really enjoyed reading it, and is one of my favourite cycling books.

It captures the best of British cycling during the post war period. It is a time when British cyclists rarely achieved much on a global or continental stage, but there was much more interest in purely domestic racing in those days. You get a feel for the times when huge crowds were drawn to watch a record attempt or even just see the stars of the road. As Roger Bannister noted when he presented the BAR awards in 1970s saying words to the effect – ‘Such enthusiasm I have never seen for any amateur sport’.  Of course, we can look back on ‘the golden age’ with misty eyes as if everything was perfect. It wasn’t. There were absurd implementation of rules such as amateur vs professionals; there was still that ridiculous secrecy about racing. Yet, there were many things which really were great about this period. For example, there is a note that huge crowds turned up to see Eileen Sheridan break a record in the 1950s. The sad thing is the record was disallowed because the huge crowds were a sign that there had been ‘advance publicity’ something against RRA rules. But, it’s great that so many people got excited about the challenge of seeing whether the great champions could break a record. Sadly, traffic conditions have made these records of London-York, London-Edinburgh obsolete. But, in that era, these road race records were very high profile.

Whitfield captures the essence of what made these diverse champions. Each rider is mostly given a sympathetic and lively portrait.  Yes, the champions had their rivalries, their failings, but this is mainly a celebration of what they achieved. It is not hagiography, the results and achievements speak for themselves, and in the case of Beryl Burton – questions about the cost of dominating the sport for so long.

Overall, I got a lot of inspiration from the book. It raises many interesting questions and gives a lot of inspiration for those who like the sport.

It is a glimpse the Olympic spirit. The ideals of sport as they should be. An era not tainted by drugs (even if it did mean the Russians always seemed to put  10 minutes into the British team time trial squad)

The 12 great champions include:

Eileen Sheridan during a 12 hour time trial, but still with her trademark smile


Eileen Sheridan. The smiling record breaker. After dominating the domestic scene, Sheridan became a professional and proceeded to beat all the great road record associations. With her great talent and personality she was one of first women to make a good living from the sport.


John Arnold and Albert Crimes

John Arnold and Albert Crimes – ‘two men, three wheels and a dozen records’. The record breaking tandem trike duo! What fascinated me about this chapter was the fact for the 1950 Land’s End to John o Groats record there were 500 people involved in the record attempt along the way. All organised the attempt using public phone boxes and telegrams. The expensive aluminium bottles even had their addresses on to be returned by post.

Ray Booty

ray booty

Ray Booty was the first sub 4 hour 100 mile. As Whitfield notes, this is one of the most iconic cycling records – more so than the first sub 1 hour 25 and first sub 2 hours 50. Booty was already a legend of the domestic time trialling scene. His ride on the Bath Road 100, smashed the record and it stayed unbeaten from many years. In many ways, Booty’s ride came from the golden era of timetrialling. The days before heavy traffic and the days when the great time triallists really were the stars of the domestic season.

Frank Colden


Frank Colden. ‘The Great Experiment’ Frank Colden’s story is the most inspiring, enigmatic and puzzling of all the 12 champions. Coming from nowhere, Cobden, in secret, rode 400 miles a week during a cold winter. He came out of this winter block with supreme form and smashed national records and in 1962 swept the floor of the national championships. His record breaking season was even more enigmatic because it co-coincided with the onset of an illness which meant he disappeared from the scene. Even now, the achievements of Colden in that 1962 season spark debate.

Les West

Les West – Casual genius. Great all rounder

Martyn Roach


martyn Roach

Martyn Roach – An outspoken traditionalist, who excelled in both road racing and timetrialling. A keen advocate of national championships and critical of the ultra-fast BBAR courses.

Phil Griffiths


Eddie Adkins Phil Griffths

Phil Griffiths. ‘Bringing showbiz to cycling’. The great talent who was at ease in both time trialling and road racing.

Sid Barras


Sid Barras. A star of 1970s British road racing, he won over 200 races, making himself a well paid star. Even showed signs he could have mixed with the European greats.

Alf Engers



Alf Engers.  ‘ The King’ Engers name pops up in timetrialling circles with great regularity. The ‘bad boy’ of timetrialling, Engers had frequent run ins with the RTTC officials, but he also lit up the time trialling scene with epic performances at 25 miles. Engers really gave some glamour to the ‘blue ribband’ of domestic time trialling and finally posted the first sub 50 minute 25 mile TT.

Ian Cammish


Ian Cammish. Another legendary star of timetrialling. Cammish took the 100 mile and 50 mile records and put them on the shelf – until the revolution of aerobars e.t.c. Cammish trained 3 or 4 times a day, short intense rides – which gave him tremendous speed at 100 and 50 miles. Ian Cammish won the BBAR throughout the 1980s. He still races today, though not as frequently.

Beryl Burton

Beryl Burton start with crowds

Beryl Burton start with crowds

What can you say about a female athlete who won 25 consecutive Best British All rounder titles – and was the only female athlete to once hold a record that beat the fastest time of men (her legendary 12 hour ride of 197 where she rode 277 miles)

Some riders I had already heard about, but I was glad to fill in the many gaps. Some I barely knew (Sheridan, Cobden) but I was glad to be acquainted.

The only thing about 12 champions is I would have loved for the book to be bigger. More champions like Webster, Lloyd, and the recent stars like Hutchinson, Dangerfield, Obree, Boardman and Andy Wilkinson.

Price £25 including Post & Packing

Order from:

Peter Whitfield, Tachbrook House, Park Street,

Charlbury, Oxfordshire OX7 3PS

Call 01608 810837 Email:


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Pea Royd Lane

Pea Royd Lane has been the venue for the national hill climb championships in 2009 and will be the venue in 2014. It is a classic hill climb length- relatively short and steep with a few sharp corners to make it really testing.  The gradient is variable from fairly shallow at the bottom to a gradient of up to 20% near the top.


Practice run August 2014

I was driving up north this weekend, so I took the short detour off the M1 to revisit Stocksbridge and have a go at Pea Royd Lane, which I haven’t done since 2009. The weather was warm with a cross wind. It felt like a headwind at the start, but tailwind in the middle. The last section I couldn’t work out. That’s the nature of the course, the wind can be all over the place.


Great view from the top

The over-riding impression of the climb was it’s steep and also a painful reminder of how hard hill climbs are. I’ve been looking for a similar hill in Oxfordshire, but there is nothing which gets the same height gain, in such as short space of time – though Whiteleaf hill and Chinnor Hill come close.

After a warm up, I gave it a good effort -  to try and get a rough idea of what time I can do after a summer of 50 and 100 mile time trials.  I’ve gone deeper in the hill climb season proper. But, it was plenty hard enough. I’m sure there was a lurking thought somewhere in my mind ‘Why do I do hill climbs again?’

It’s a hard hill climb because the gradient is always changing. The road surface is also quite rough. There was plenty of loose gravel, chippings and patched up road surface. I hear it is going to be resurfaced soon!


Half way up, there’s a slight easing of gradient over the road bridge before the rest of the climb looms into view.

I took lots of photos of the climb (see bottom of post). It’s quite a mix of scenic Yorkshire views, with some ageing steel plants and electricity pylons thrown in. Still it’s a good view from the top.

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