Friday, 29 June 2012


Another successful day, including the dreaded Rosedale Chimney. Finished on Halifax Lane - No. 84!

76. The Stang, Langthwaite
77. Carlton Bank, Carlton-In-Cleveland
78. Rosedale Chimney, Rosedale Abbey
79. White Horse Bank, Kilburn
80. Boltby Bank, Boltby
81. Greenhow Hill, Pateley Bridge
82. Norwood Edge, Otley
83. Shibden Wall, Halifax
84. Halifax Lane, Luddenden

After staying in Darlington overnight, another 6.30am start saw us heading back south west to The Stang before looping east to Carlton Bank. Over the previous 24 hours we'd endured some dreadful weather but listening to the news we got the feeling it could have been even worse - we seemed to be on the edge of it a lot of the time. Dry weather was what I was crossing everything for as we drove to No.78.

The first 50 climbs had seen me tackle (through luck and logistics) a harder, tougher set of climbs on paper than the ones I was attempting in the second 50. Simon's 'difficulty' grading also backed this up. The number of 9/10, 10/10 and 11/10 (!) climbs in my first 50 significantly outweighed those in this second 50. One '10' remained however and that was the fearsome Rosedale Chimney with it's 30% middle section. There are quite a few climbs in the 100 that have 30 or even 40% sections in them but they're mercifully brief and usually restricted to the inside line of a few, particularly savage, hairpins. Rosedale Chimney opens out in front of you at 30% and then keeps on going until a relatively sedate 1 in 6...

Another reason for my trepidation was the memories of the 1987 National Hill Climb Championship on the 'Chimney'. I'd had a good build up to that year's title race - I'd won a few events and even got 'seeded' in the championship start list (the organisers give you a number that ends in zero so you're spaced apart from the other seeds). In reality I was never going to challenge the top 10 but I enjoyed the kudos of being allocated the number.

Come the morning of the race I had lowered my sights considerably due to a chest infection over the previous week but was hoping to at least ride without ending in the arms of the St. Johns as I'd done two years previously! There was a complication for most of the early starters (riders are timed at one minute intervals) in that there had been a heavy dew that morning which was proving disastrous for riders trying to put power into the back wheel without it slipping on the 1 in 3 section. If this happens, at best you lose valuable momentum and rhythm and at worst, you hit the deck.

I have a vivid memory of being called to the start line and as I moved into position, the spectators in the distance (3-4 deep all the way up most of the hill) erupted into an 'ooohhhh!' followed by the commentator booming out the tannoy: "and that's another one down!" 

It's difficult to block that out when you're getting the 10 second countdown...especially when it seemed to be happening to every other rider! In the end, I made it - no dramas but probably the most technically focused 8 minutes I've ever spent on a bike - and finished mid table.

Soooo...having conquered 77 climbs without being forced to 'put the foot down', I was always aware that Rosedale had the potential be the one to spoil my day, hence why I was hoping for dry conditions. Well, it actually had been raining but the raging headwind which was blowing DOWN the hill was creating dry patches - enough to find a line at least. Which I did. It was quite a grovel: it wasn't pretty and it certainly wasn't quick but I make that Steve 2, Chimney 0.

I was the closest I'd come to being elated since 'high fiving' Helen at the top of Bealach-Na-Ba on Day5 (see video below - yes, that's me being happy) but there were two nasty shocks coming my way in the form of Boltby Bank and Shibden Wall.

Boltby Bank was just a pig of climb. It started steep and just got steeper. I think Mr. Warren was on a very good day when he gave that an unassuming 7/10. I'm not alone in thinking that either as Mark Oliver seems to have felt the same!

Shibden Wall is 910 metres largely made up of cobbles with HUGE gaps between them in places and most of it at 25% - meaning you have to stay in the saddle practically the whole way. Doesn't sound good, does it. It wasn't! 

The Stang

The Stang

Rosedale Chimney

Rosedale Chimney

White Horse Bank

Shibden Wall

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