Cycling climbs of South-East England

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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.

whitchurch-hill

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.
Box Hill

I rode up Box Hill in July 2012 – just a week before the Olympic road race. For the past few years, I’ve had it in the back of my mind to go back. But, can never summon the effort to go down to Dorking. I thought the New book – Cycling climbs of South East England would be the perfect excuse – not just for Box Hill, but tick off all the climbs in the North Downs area. Climbs like Barhatch Road, White Downs, Coldharbour Lane, Leith Hill e.t.c. You could easily make up a very good route to include all six climbs in the Dorking area. Similarly east of Reigate and you have about 15 climbs on the North Down ridge – climbs like York’s Hill and White Hill – immortalised by the Cat and Bec hill climbs.

I was all set last Thursday for going doing to Dorking. There was even a rare tailwind up Boxhill, which would have made it interesting. But, Thurs morning – my car had flat battery, I had a cold. The cycling gods said “No!” So that was Box hill shelved for another year.

If you read the 100 climbs books on their own, they are interesting, but nothing particularly amazing. I think what explains the success and popularity of the book is their interactivity. (That’s a modern buzz word if ever there was). Read through 100 climbs and you actually want to go and ride up the climb for yourself. Once you cycle up a few, you want to do a few more – and also go back and read about what you just climbed. In planning to go down to Box Hill, I spent considerable time using both the new Cycling Climbs of S.E and my OS 1:50,000 map to plan the hilliest routes possible in and around the North Downs. That’s another element of interactivity. An OS map makes a very good compliment to the 100 climbs. (Mind you I was also watching the Prudential Ride London Classic on tv by following it on an OS map so I knew where they were going…)

In the past few weeks, I watched the Cycle Show on ITV4. I thought by far the most interesting features was Simon Warren’s clips on going up hills. The camera work and description were great TV, I’ve never seen Fleet Moss from that perspective, and I’ve been checking out Trooper Climb – a 19% cobbled climb in Halifax.

Cycling uphills, has became a major aspect of the cycling boom. It’s impressive to do a 100 mile ride, but it’s the number, severity and gradient of the hills, which really sparks interest. So this kind of pocket book of climbs has really hit a growing niche market – at just the right time. I suppose, as the owner of cyclinguphill.com, I have an inevitable bias towards anything with regard to cycling uphill. But, I don’t think I’m the only one who likes cycling uphill.

One thing about the books is that it has brought a new dimension to cycling. Rather than just do intervals up the same hill every week, there is an added impetus to travelling further afield and finding some new climbs to check out. With a parental B&B in Yorkshire, a one hour drive, gives a surprisingly large radius of climbs to check out. It’s only really the north east, Cornwall and Scotland which have remained inaccessible.

South East climbs is the first of a regional guide. It will hit the nail on the had for most cyclists who want to concentrate on the areas around them.  London and Surrey cyclists will have lots of fun from this book.

I can’t wait for the Yorkshire edition!

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8 Responses to Cycling climbs of South-East England

  1. Simon August 3, 2015 at 7:47 am #

    Thanks very much Tejvan, really appreciate the time and effort you put into that, hopefuly a few more climbs for you to bag the KOM on. Soon be racing season!

    Thanks again

    Simon.

  2. Andy B August 5, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

    Hello Tejvan from a long time reader. Thumbs up to your blog as always!

    Just a little pointer in the direction of James Allens ’50 Classic Cycle Climbs: Yorkshire and the Peak District’. So good I lent it out, never to be returned and have had to purchase it again. It lacks the gravitas and short punch of the ‘100 climb’ series but makes up for it in a really well thought out and decent intro to the vast swathe of Yorkshire climbing out there.

    All the best.

    • tejvan August 5, 2015 at 6:58 pm #

      Cheers Andy, I’ll try check it out.

  3. paul heggie August 5, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

    James Allen has done a Yorkshire one 🙂 http://www.amazon.co.uk/50-Classic-Cycle-Climbs-Yorkshire/dp/1847977626

  4. Simon Bromfield August 12, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

    Nice review Tejvan,

    I would recommend a trip to the Hills around Westerham one day.Park up on The Ridge above Limpsfield (top of White Lane) where you are within a short distance of some of the very best climbs in the South East. The road surfaces on the whole are very good with light traffic compared to my local Surrey Hills.As well as the climbs to enjoy you have oast houses, cornfields, castles,Chartwell,and Elizabethan manor houses in abundance, a truly delightful part of the UK.

  5. Chris August 13, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    Hi Tejvan, you can join O.S. on line £17 I think and bring up all the UK maps in 1-25,000 or 1-50,000 and print them off. It has certainly expanded my cycling range without the fear of getting lost.

    Do you know when the S.W. climbs will be out.

  6. tejvan August 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    Thanks Chris. Don’t know about S.W.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cycling in Surrey Hills - - August 18, 2015

    […] in particular. I’d been looking for an excuse to go back. Simon Warren’s guide of S.E. England climbs showed me quite a lot of climbs around Dorking I haven’t done before. After Yorkshire hills […]

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