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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stay on the road...keep clear of the moors

During the early part of the Year I took part in the Cheshire Cat cycle Sportive. It was a gruelling early season ride of 102 miles with lots of very big hills including the infamous 'Mow Cop' with a 25% incline.
At that time I was 30lbs heavier than I am now and was forced to walk up most of this monster.
The rest of the ride was equally painful. Although not as steep it nearly ruined my appetite for cycling and certainly put a question mark on my love for climbing.
I remember to this day how my legs shook like a jelly on a washing machine, how the cramp seized me up and how I literally threw up............nice!!!!!!

I have always liked climbing, well actually its a kind of a love/hate thing.
I love the challenge it brings, the view at the top and of course the white knuckle descents.
When your riding on the flat and the pace is a little too hot, you can just slow down.
Climbing is different.
The choices are minimal.
Slowing down from a pace just quicker than a snail is impossible.
You either look for a convenient place to have a controlled stop or you fall over on your F**king arse.
The first option has to be as precise as brain surgery or you just default to the falling on your F**king arse scenario anyway.
Since The Cheshire Cat my choice of climbing has been somewhat conservative with a very small 'c', especially now that I have lost the luxury of a triple ring.
I have avoided anything over 20% gradients unless the momentum from a descent is going to push me up the other side like the inertia you experience on a roller coaster.
As such I have avoided some of the most beautiful local countryside 'The fabulous North Yorkshire Moors'
This weekend all that changed!!!!!
In John Landis cult Horror Movie of the 1980s The American Werewolf in London, David Kessler and his side kick John Goodman are warned about going on the moor. It was good advice.

For me there were several beasts that ambushed me every couple of miles.

These were not hairy creatures with acute halitosis, but 'Gradient gargoyles' obviously related to Mow Cop and designed to halt all but the bravest cyclists.

Most notably was climb from Sleights (near Whitby) up to the moor top junction that takes you down to Goathland.
This particular climb is 25% and about three miles long called Blue Bank.
I have tried to research the origins of the name with little success but can only conclude that those who take it on might feel a little blue in both mood and the sickly appearance it induces once completed.
From the top, I turned down into Goathland and followed the villages along the Esk valley back into Whitby.
Each village not only displayed its name but proudly presented the gradients in an out of each one. It was as if they were taking part in some type of 'Piss the cyclist off contest.
I found no signs under 25% and plenty of signs warning against vehicular use.
The two days in the Moors only rendered a pitiful 80 miles, but with over 12,000 feet of climbing and some demons put to rest, I was happy to exchange miles for altitude.


I have now gone through the 4,000 mile mark completing 4,060 miles. Only 712 miles to Houston in my virtual ride which now takes me through to Birmingham, Alabama. We have our own Birmingham in England, but I am positive it is not as nice as the Southern States version.

It is the home of Two great blogs I follow:- Bici Cooperative and Bike skirt they are both entertaining and informative.


  1. The signs, 25% grade, made me want to throw up!

  2. I'm quickly developing a fear of the Yorkshire Moors. I seem to have ended up riding over them quite a lot recently; and I can honestly say they've hurt every single time.

    I was even stupid enough to camp up on top of them (very cold!) last Thursday

  3. I concur with Jeff -the thought alone of riding on a 25% incline is enough to make me puke. :)


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