Sunday, 21 March 2010

Uphill hardener

If it's uphill all the way, you should be used to it by now.

And get used to it I'll have to, because on the evidence of today's 50-miler in the rolling Kent countryside, I'm a long way short of where I need to be.

Granted, there were some stiff climbs along the way and it's the furthest I've cycled for some considerable time, but after only 28 miles, I was beginning to feel the effects. And the climbs, as I've called them, were never longer than a couple of miles, unless you count the long drag up to Biggin Hill, which although undulating is around seven miles and gains about 600 metres.

By far the toughest of the day was Hogtrough Hill. It's got one of those chevron things on the Ordnance Survey map and rates at more than 14%. Mercifully, it's less than a kilometre long, but it feels longer, probably because I'm going so slowly I could keel over at any second. That it comes after I've tackled Toys Hill from the more difficult south side doesn't help one iota.

Mind you, I went down some absolute stinkers, including one incline that's named Cudham Test Hill and has a leaning road sign at the top that shows it's a 25% gradient. I think if I'd had to climb it, I'd have just sat down at the bottom and cried. On the route profile, it just looks like a sheer drop. As it happened, there was a bit of a tester at the other side of the valley, but thankfully not in the same league.

On the plus side, it was the first day out on the bike that my feet didn't freeze. If anything, I was too hot, having dressed for the weekend before.

The scenery was quite literally breathtaking too and I was kept amused by the fact I had to go up Pratt's Bottom twice. It was funnier the second time, but I put that down to my sense of giddiness along with my diminished responsibility by that point.

Next week, I'm going to put an extra 15 miles or so on the distance and try doing one or two of the hills in reverse. Not backwards, you understand. Just the other way up. If that's clear.

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