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Rode my first 25% climb.....(11 posts)

Rode my first 25% climb.....GileyD
Jan 2, 2003 4:51 AM
Between Christmas & New Year StevieP and I did a ride over Exmoor. (Exmoor National Park is an extremely hilly moorland area situated in South West England on the North Somerset and Devon coast). I know the area quite well as I ride my motorbike there a lot in the summer, but have never cycled there before. The route I had planned was 70-odd miles but due to the weather and the fact that I was recovering from a bad cold we ended up doing a slightly smaller loop of 50 miles. However at least 20 of those are climbing!

5 minutes after we set off from the car the heavens opened and it poured down incessantly for the next hour. A lot of the roads were under an inch or two of water as torrents poured down off the hills. At about 30 miles we descended into Lynmouth, a small coastal village. The descent off the moor was amazing, about 15 minutes (very long for England!) of twisties and tight hairpins. Given the weather conditions we had to go fairly steady, but in the summer it will be an amazing fast descent. We got to the bottom buzzing, then had the climb of Countisbury Hill to tackle which climbs up along the cliff edge out of Lynmouth back onto the moor. The bottom 300-400 yards are a gradient of 25% then the next mile or so is "only" 12-15%. We both have triples on our winter bikes – my lowest gear is 30-23 and I couldn't push it sitting in the saddle – was out of the saddle nearly all the steep section. I can now see why Herras et al used triples on The Angliru – can't imagine how you'd get up that gradient on a double.

Soon after we descended off the moor again down Porlock Hill (famous as one of the steepest hills in SW England) . This hits over 25% at the bottom in a series of tight hairpins which on the inside are damn near vertical. The hill was running with water and shrouded in thick fog to add to the fun – my arms were seriously pumped up at the bottom from hauling on the brakes all the way down!

All in all a great ride and a good introduction to seriously steep climbs & descents. Next time we will do the loop in reverse and attempt the ascent of Porlock to look forward to!!
re: Rode my first 25% climb.....SteveS
Jan 2, 2003 7:24 AM
I took a cycle tour in the UK in 2001 and intended to cycle around Exmoor and Somerset but Foot and Mouth precluded that. Sounds like it might have been more than I can chew.
Been reading about End-to-End rides and it seems that there is a 30% grade somewhere in that area of Cornwall and Devon. Almost hard to believe. Impressive riding territory.
Sounds like a good work out.....bent_spoke
Jan 2, 2003 8:43 AM
..although, the 25% grade is a tough bit of work, but it'll be good strength building (if it don't kill ya). How was the triple for the 12-15% section? Do you think that you could have done it on a double? I've got some hills here at home (Connecticut,US) & I was wondering whether a triple was the way to go. Keep up the good work & have fun with the downhill
Sounds like a good work out.....GileyD
Jan 2, 2003 9:02 AM
The triple was an absolute godsend on hills of that severity, certainly I am virtually certain that I would not have got up the 25% section on a double (well - possibly with 39-29 with a Campag Alpine cassette). The 12-15% stage would have been do-able on a double, but as I was not feeling that good that day I really appreciated the fact that I could just spin instead.

I put a Mirage triple g'set on my steel winter bike in 2001 and it was a great move. I can get away with pushing bigger gears up hills in the summer, but when it is wet & cold my left knee gives me jip if I am not careful to sit and spin instead. I now swear by triples, but that said I would not put one on my "best" bike (Litespeed Sirius) purely for aesthetic reasons - a triple just would not look "right" IMHO. My lowest gear on the L'speed is 39-25 and I can get up all the local big climbs (15-18%) ok, it just means riding out of the saddle a lot more.

Realistically if you climb a lot of steep stuff then I think a triple is definately the way to go.

Hope you enjoyed your riding in the UK, bad luck it coincided with foot & mouth. I really want to get to ride in the US one day, though with a young family it will probably not be for some time!
Sounds like a good work out.....SteveS
Jan 2, 2003 6:33 PM
I rode the Lon Las Cymru (?) route in Wales to Betws-y-Coed and then the Yorkshire Dales southern area and it was quite nice. And I used a triple the entire time and was glad of it. Foot and Mouth was not such a problem there. Of course I haven't cycled all of the U.S. (who has) but I think Britain has wonderful cycling. So, now my fantasy is and end-to-end ride from Land's End to John O'Groats but done purely as a tour. Great country, Britain.
Awesome! Nothing to compare, but...lonefrontranger
Jan 2, 2003 9:08 AM
I rode my 60" geared fixie (42/17) up both the "Hump" and the "Wall" on the old Morgul Bismark course yesterday. Don't know the gradient but it hurt. There was the usual strong head/crosswind going up the Wall. Oh, yeah, it was snowing daggers, too. One of those days where it starts out partly cloudy and blustery, but just sunny enough to think you're okay, then just as soon as you get too far from home to justify turning back, the weather hits.

Ironically enough (this really happened and it was funny as hell!) a ride buddy who was home sick with the flu called me on my cell phone to say "Hey, there's a movie on where they're riding the Morgul Bismark course...", (American Flyer, I think) and I'm like
"Hey, no ****, I'm riding it as we speak, where the heck are you?!

Coming back DOWN the Wall actually hurt more than climbing it, now that I think about it. I run front and rear brakes on the fixed, and needed 'em both. At some point according to my computer I hit 36 mph; my kneecaps felt like they'd fly off any second.
The UK really knows how to build a road...Ray Sachs
Jan 2, 2003 9:55 AM
...right up the side of the bloody hill! I did a tour in Wales in the summer of '01 and hit the only 20% + climbs I've ever done. I wonder about the signs that rate the grade though. I did one climb (out of a seaside village down in a cove) that was marked 20% but I could barely keep my front wheel on the ground as I ground up it in my granny gear. Another was marked 25% yet was much easier in comparison - plenty tough mind you but nothing like that first one. Still, once you get steeper than about 15-17%, its all pretty serious.

The UK really knows how to build a road...Hereford Flyer
Jan 2, 2003 10:27 AM
The one to ride up is the Hardknott, Pass in The Lake District, Cumbria. Only about 1 mile long. It has an overall gradient of 33% with up to 40% in places - it is the steepest road in England.
Rode up it a few years back in 42x23, bit overgeared really, good strength training though! - great descent on the other side as well.
re: Rode my first 25% climb.....j-son
Jan 2, 2003 3:04 PM
There's a hill in town -- called, aptly enough, tornado hill -- that I did hill repeats on over the summer. It's short(maybe 1/2 mile, probably a little less), but a gut buster. Ride it 10 times, and you're thru (at least I was). I was curious about the grade, so I called the city public works department. The city engineer told me this street is the steepest in town, and maxes at a 26% grade. He thought I was truly deranged for riding a bike up it.

Sounds like you had a good ride. Thanks for the recap.

Baldwin streetjim hubbard
Jan 2, 2003 6:20 PM
The steepest paved road in the world, a mapping error caused by 12,000 miles separation between the planners and the site means Baldwin Street is a vertiginous 1 in 2.66, or 38%
Ridden it 4 times made it to the top twice in 39x25. It hurts especially after a 100k's
Really Steep Hillsmapei boy
Jan 6, 2003 12:08 PM
I'll readily poke along up a hill of about 17% or so, but when it gets past 20% it scares me. I have trouble balancing. I have to scrunch myself into a strange, forward position to keep the front wheel down.