I live in a place that is for the most part, flat.
This is the view to the east and west from a spot less than 2km (1.2mi) from my home. The subject of todays entry reside to the north (out of shot to the left of the first photo and right of the second photo.
Today that makes for some very satisfying bicycle rides for someone who would otherwise be crippled by the physics of moving themselves through the vertical plane. However, a couple of decades ago when I was a fledgling cyclist, this allowed me to create a dislike of climbing. This was purely because I was not readily exposed to vertical cycling, and therefore never got good at it. This consequently turned me into a sprinter. I frequently trained by loitering at the entry to local industrial estates and then pacing behind dump trucks and cement trucks for as long as possible. The roads around these estates carried speed limits of 60, 70, 80 kilometres per hour (37, 43, 50 mph). It was perfect interval training for a sprinter. There were traffic lights at regular intervals allowing for continuous slowing and surging.
In the midst of all that flatness there is a monolith. A place whereupon the doctors and lawyers and retired CEO’s perch their mansions to view the peasants below. Said monolith makes its home close to me. Very close to me. It is less than 8km (5mi) to the base of the nearest road that climbs the hill. This hill is small by international standards, both in area and in height. The roads around the base create a circuit that is not challenging to my 120kg (264lb) self. I have never ridden just purely the roads around the base, but often use parts of them in various rides so the exact distance is a mystery, but 30km (19mi) would be a fair estimate. 18,000 acres. Tiny really. The top is published as 180 metres high (600 feet) and the circuit around the bottom has a couple of spots that flood at high tide when it’s been raining steadily for a couple of days, so we’ll call the bottom zero feet.
This little bump in the landscape has a nasty streak. It has nine and a half roads that climb its flanks. Yes, a half. There are a pair of roads that meet halfway up. So there are 10 bottoms and 9 tops of climbs. The longest road to climb is 2.3km (1.4mi) but it is a roller coaster. The longest road that climbs consistently from bottom to top is 1.74km (1.1mi). Yes, 600 feet of climbing in 1.1 miles. I have provided, for your viewing pleasure, the warning signs located at the foot of 2 of the climbs. Have a close look at the numbers.
YES! That says 1.74km (1.1mi) at 10% gradient. Number 2 is quite a little leg tester with 0.6km (0.4mi) at 20% gradient. And number 2 is the half a climb I mentioned earlier, so at the top there’s a 100 metre plateau and then another 0.5km (0.3mi) at about 10 or 12 percent gradient.
3 weeks ago, the canal bridges and highway overpasses were a cause for concern whilst out riding. Already though, my fitness and strength have shifted enough that momentum and power take me over them with minimal grief. But still, I won’t even be attempting to climb any of the monolith roads until at least Easter. That way I will have a reasonable base of fitness and a significant chunk of weight gone from the physics of the event. My goal for this year is to climb each of these 10 roads 3 times before the end of the year. And the piece de resistance: in December I will ride the entire circuit in an anti-clockwise direction and as I arrive at the base of each climb I will turn left and climb to the top, turn around and descend. I will then proceed to the next climb until; in one continuous event I will conquer all 10 climbs. Some of the climbs are set back a little from the circuit road so with the circuit distance plus the climbing and descending, that day I will ride between 80 and 90 kilometres (50-56mi) and climb 6000 feet.
Wish me luck. Or good health insurance.