Cragg Vale hill climb

Cragg Vale from Mytholmroyd on the B6138 road  proudly claims to be the longest continual ascent in England. 968 feet of climbing in 5.5 miles. It is not steep, just a classic long drag – a power climb with an average gradient of just over 3%.

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Half way up Cragg Vale

 

Cragg Vale Hill climb

  • Distance 5.3 miles
  •     Avg Grade 3%
  •     Elevation gain 968ft (295m)
  •     Max gradient: 7%
  •     Highest Elev 1,268ft
  •     100 climbs: no. 138

Tour de France and Cragg Vale

In a few days, the Tour de France peleton and whole caravan will be passing up these slopes. 198 riders, and goodness knows how many support vehicles and supporters. Compared to the Alpine giants like the Col du Tourmalet, Alpe d’Huez and Hautacam –  Cragg Vale is little more than a mound or hillock, a minor pinprick on the map. It won’t feature too much in Team previews.  But, it’s still a good test and a good place to watch. The peleton will be strung out – 5 miles of uphill, is hard in anyone’s book. For the riders, it will be about getting a good place in the peleton for the upcoming climbs, such as Holme Moss and Côte de Greetland nearer the finish.

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Riders going up Cragg Vale

Yorkshire Cycling Federation Hill climb

I’ve ridden Cragg Vale once in training (with a huge tailwind), and I jumped at the chance to race a hill climb a week before the big race. The local community are really getting into the spirit of the tour – amongst other things, they are going for a Guinness world record for the longest stretch of bunting – 5 miles uphill of bunting. It looks good.

bunting

Bunting was put up all along the route.

Where’s Bradley Wiggins?

I did a warm up on the climb. Amidst the Go Froomedog, Geraint Thomas! e.t.c. I did see a writing. “Where’s Wiggins?”

Whilst at the start, a member of the public asked seriously if Bradley Wiggins was in our race. They thought they had just seen him. I replied, offhand – no, it will be just someone wearing a Team Sky replica jersey. And indeed there was a rider in the ‘come and try it event’ wearing a Team Sky jersey. However, back at the HQ, I heard again the rumour that Bradley Wiggins did indeed ride up Cragg Vale that evening; and according to the extremely unofficial rumour mill, I heard he did a ’12’. Maybe that was just a guess from projected power figures.

More concrete was a sighting of recently crowned British time trial champion Emma Pooley; Pooley was seen training on the slopes of Cragg Vale – surely you couldn’t have both national TT champs training on Cragg Vale on the same evening?

bunting-bus-stop

It was very good of the Mytholmroyd community to put up bunting for the YCF hill climb – It’s definitely set the standard for future hill climbs. I suggested to a local they leave it up for a few days, as I hear another big cycle race is coming along soon too.

Anyway, national TT champion or not, it was time to concentrate on the CTT open hill climb – it may not be the Tour de France, but it’s still based on very similar principles of cycling really hard, until your legs hurt quite a lot.

TT bike

With an average gradient of 3%, I thought a TT bike would be quicker. This was good because I only bought one bike up to Yorkshire my TT bike. My Zipp 404 has dodgy bearings, so I chose to use the disc wheel. It meant I was in full bongo bongo aero mode. TT bike, disc, even Kask Bambino aero helmet – though I wore a helmet primarily because my mother had turned up to watch.

I did toy with switching the ridiculously heavy Adamo Saddle with my super-lightweight Tune Korvum Hill Climb special. It would have saved 300 grams, but I decided it wasn’t worth the effort of changing saddle height e.t.c, and it was better to keep with saddle I’m currently used to. With no concessions to weight, I was hoping aerodynamics would help – especially on the exposed upper slopes.

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The weather was near perfect – it makes a change to do a hill climb on a calm, quiet summer days The wind was almost non-existent, you couldn’t work out the direction of the very feint breeze.

I started off fairly fast and got tucked into the aero position. I stayed on tribars for most of race, apart from the steepest section through the village. I made the biggest efforts on the lower slopes, where it was steeper. The last 3km are very gentle, and almost inevitably the power ebbs away – partly because the legs were tired, partly because it’s always easier to get higher power figures going uphill.

Cragg Vale

I caught no. 57 and no. 58 quite quickly. But, it took a long time to catch no.59 (Ben Jacobs Albarosa CC) For a long time he was dangling in front of me; it proved a useful target to keep up the effort for these last parts of the climb. Ben ended up with 2nd place, in a good time of 15:29 (just outside old course record of 15.15).

 

top-reservoir-yorks-lancs-border

Course record

I stopped the clock in 14.19. which took nearly a minute off the course record. Some said it was slightly faster the previous year because there was a tailwind. But, it was still a very good day for racing. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bradley Wiggins or the peleton in full flight could do the climb in 11-12 minutes. We shall be able to see on Sunday; they may take 15 + minutes because it’s quite a far out from the really serious business end of the stage.

Congratulations to Vanessa Whitfield  of V C St. Raphael who took a minute off the women’s course record. – 18:47

Also, first junior was Nathan Allatt of Holmfirth CC wheelers ahead of   Wilf Sargeant of West Peninne RC

Thanks to YCF Federation for putting on good event.

Cragg Vale in the Tour de France 2014

The peleton didn’t climb Cragg Vale at full pace. There was a feeding station at the bottom of the climb, and there was the small matter of the other 200km and 20 climbs! According to Strava, David Lopez of Team Sky climbed the Cragg Vale hill climb segment in a relatively steady 16:52.

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Top of Cragg Vale, after stage 2. Photo Dave Haygarth, flick cc.2.0

minnellium-dave-haygarth-cragg-vale

Near the top of Cragg Vale. Photo Dave Haygarth, flick cc.2.0

I should add Dave Haygarth Planet X/On-One rider  rode up Cragg Vale 22 times one one day.

Results from Cragg Vale hill climb 2014

Pos Rider Club Cat Actual
1 Tejvan Pettinger Sri Chinmoy CT S 14:19.th
Record
2 Ben Jacobs Albarosa CC S 15:29.th
3 David Kinloch PH-MAS Cycling V40 15:44.th
4 Sam Ward PH-MAS Cycling S 16:18.th
5 Ben Lowe Nonna La Squadra V40 16:20.th
6 Andrew Pearson Huddersfield Star V40 16:27.th
7= Andrew Newby Nonna La Squadra S 16:29.th
7= Nathan Allatt Holmfirth CC J 16:29.th
9 Chris Myhill Peak Road Club V40 16:31.th
10 Blair Buss Team Swift V40 16:32.th
11 Mark Nulty Manchester Whs Club S 16:47.th
12 Andrew Askwith Bridlington CC V40 16:48.th
13 Wilf Sargeant West Pennine RC J 16:55.th
14 Stewart Gormley Team Swift S 17:05.th
15 Stephen Robinson 3RT V40 17:06.th
16 Doug Hart Ilkley CC V40 17:07.th
17 Steve Gibson Peak RC V40 17:19.th
18 Chris Smith Condor RC S 17:26.th
19 John Sanderson Manchester Whs Club V40 17:38.th
20 Thomas Platts St.Ives CC S 18:08.th
21 Mark Johnson Yorkshire RC V40 18:29.th
22 Vanessa Whitfield VC St.Raphael W 18:47.th
Record
23 Steven Smith Yorkshire RC V40 18:49.th
24 Craig McIntosh Yorkshire RC V50 18:52.th
25 Emma Osenton Kinesis – Morvelo W 19:04.th
26 Brian Jennings Yorkshire RC V50 19:13.th
27 Claire Green Albarosa CC W 19:36.th
28 Stuart Baines Yorkshire RC V40 19:40.th
29 Kevan Shuttleworth Holme Valley Whs V50 19:43.th
30 David Bottomley Huddrsfield Star S 19:45.th
31 Paul Brierley Huddersfield RC V40 20:00.th
32 Steve McCall Huddersfield Star V40 20:03.th
33 Anthony Leigh West Pennine RC S 20:25.th
34 Geoff Morgan Harrogate Nova CC V60 20:39.th
35 Giles Perkins North Cheshire Clarion V40 20:40.th
36 Richard Durham Team Swift V50 20:42.th
37 Karen Taylor East Bradford CC W 20:43.th
38 Mark Lansdown Alba Rosa CC V50 20:43.th
39 Greg Jessop Otley CC V50 20:48.th
40 Nicholas Hatton Malton Whs V40 20:59.th
41 Allan Green Bronte Whs V60 21:17.th
42 Chris Goode Yorks Coast Clarion V48 21:42.th
43 Jonathan Reid Calder Clarion V40 21:43.th
44 Claire Jessop Otley CC W 22:53.th
45 Ali Mills Here Come the Belgians W 22:54.th
46 Mike Cole Huddersfield RC V60 24:00.th
47 Howard Blakeley Wetherby Whs V60 25:02.th
48 Catherine Sawyer Huddersfield RC W 25:50.th
49 David Tinker Clayton Velo V50 26:20.th
50 Sally Baines Yorkshire RC W 29:11.th

My stats

tejvan-start

  • Time: 14:19 (Course record)
  • Average speed: 19.9 mph
  • average power: 366 watts
  • 5 min power: 388 watts
  • 10 min power: 375 watts

Is Cragg Vale really the longest continual ascent in England?

There is a technical case for saying there is a longer continual ascent is from Henley, Pishill – Christmas Common in the Chilterns. This goes uphill for 7.2 miles, – even if the gradient is a miserly 1% for quite a long way, and an average gradient of only 2% (Strava segment)

Having done both climbs, I would say, Cragg Vale deserves title of longest continual hill in England. Even if technically – Henley – Pishill is a longer continual ascent.

I’ve done both climbs. The Pishill ascent is very gradual gradient on the lower slopes; it hardly feels like you’re going uphill. Also, there are junctions and different roads, compared to Cragg Vale.  Though from Lower Assendon’s junction to the top of Pishill it is still (5.9 miles) 9.3 km without levelling – and no junctions. Strava Pishill

I think Cragg Vale deserves  title of longest continual uphill hill. Though it is a little arbitrary, and there would be nothing to stop Henley County Council putting up a sign saying longest continuous ascent in Pishill, but I doubt they will.

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14 Responses to Cragg Vale hill climb

  1. John Sanderson July 2, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    Great time – I was pretty happy with 19th place, though as usual the next day was thinking “I could have done better”! Great event, couldn’t have been better conditions and the TdF good feeling seems to have really taken over. I also encountered one very confused local who wondered if we were touring France, leaving from Cragg..!

  2. Chris July 2, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Well done Tejvan, great “warm up” for the hill climb season. Things looking good.

  3. Martin Norris July 2, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    Great write up and awesome time. Nice one.

  4. Human Cyclist July 3, 2014 at 6:34 am #

    “I wore a helmet primarily because my mother had turned up to watch”

    Quote of the year. Thank you for making me smile once again Tejvan and well done on the course record. Enjoy the tour. I hear that the usual donkeys dressed in the leaders’ jerseys have been replaced by sheep. Brilliant!

  5. Darren N July 4, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Your time on Strava shows 14:12 so quicker than you stated, well done!!! I’m happy with my 18:05, not bad for a 41 year old who’s only had a road bike for a year 🙂

  6. Peter Sharp July 4, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    Another interesting read Tejvan- thank you.
    Can i ask where you hear about Hill Climb competitions?..although i expect a rider of your ranking is probably invited to most of the best events ! Are hillclimb events/details only found in the ‘time trial’ book?

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