Steep hills

Even though I’ve done a lot of cycling around Yorkshire and Oxford, I still love to spend time looking at map trying to find the steepest possible hills. I know it’s probably more efficient to google and search Strava, but in my mind, it can’t beat the fun of looking at a real map and all those contour gradients. Any double arrow always raises a little excitement, especially if you haven’t been up that hill before.

At the moment, steep hills make great training for the hill climb season and the national championship in particular. But, even if I wasn’t training there is some attraction of battling against the steepest gradients. In one sense it doesn’t make sense to seek out the steepest hills, but there’s nothing like looking over your shoulder and seeing the road snaking below you.

Robin Hood climb near Silsden


Another kind of benefit of going up really steep hills is that you can get magnified power figures. For the life of me, I couldn’t do 450 watts on the flat, but when it’s 25% + it’s kind of hard not to!

The steepest hill I’ve been up is Hardknott Pass in the Lake District, a definite 30%, with the additional challenge of coming at the end of a pretty challenging hill in its own right.

Other really steep hills that have been quite memorable include Park Rash, Wrynose Pass, Bushcombe Lane to name but a few. I keep meaning to go over to the North York Moors, where 30% gradients seem to be a speciality.

Today I was in Menston, West Yorkshire, and there’s plenty of steep hills to choose from. I decided to go over the moors to Silsden. Where just a couple of months ago, I was one of millions lining the side of the road for Le Tour de France.

It’s hard to believe. But, yes this really did happen. Silsden closed down for the day to welcome Le Tour!

Le Tour didn’t go up the steepest hills in the district, the roads would have been too narrow and awkward for the Tour caravan.

Silsden today, still a few bikes hanging in the air.

Out of Silsden and East Morton you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to finding 20% gradients. One hill I particularly like is ‘Robin Hood’ Hill – which climbs East out of Silsden towards East Morton, there are a couple of sharp turns and you will be out of the saddle for quite a bit. I was using 39*28 which enabled quite a nice cadence.

Nice views, though when you’re climbing you don’t really have time to appreciate

Keep pushing

The only way is up.

The only thing missing is a visit to Spain, for some really long and Steep climbs. L’Angliru e.t.c.

Well maybe another year.


4 thoughts on “Steep hills”

  1. That’s pretty much my local loop. Passed you at the top of Robin Hood. It’s certainly more fun going up it than it is down; horrible descent! What a fantastic day it was! Great effort on the hills as usual!

  2. I am REALLY slow up the hills but enjoy the challenge. My regular run from Ilkley goes via Addingham Moorside to Silsden then over to Draughton before heading to Halton Heights and finishing off with a climb up Langbar. Strava makes that about 3800 feet in 29 miles. Short and sharp!

  3. I rode ‘the wall’ above lake como a month ago and thought of you. It is at the top of a good climb which I had just used for an FTP test and it nearly killed me. Check it out the seriously steep climb is called Muro di Sormano and the climb prior to this is Il Ghisallo. At the top of the first climb is the church of the patron saint of cycling and the Italian cycling museum all in all a cracking ride.


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