I didn’t particularly sleep well last night. The animals were having a “howl at the moon” night. Still, I was up early and getting ready to go out on the bike. I’d picked a route I use quite often, but with a twist in the middle. Mow Cop. Now I’ve read about it, and I’ve seen pictures of it and even a video. And it’s part of the course for the Cheshire Cat at the end of March. So I thought I’d see for myself.
The first 30 odd miles felt pretty good. I had a cold last weekend which took it out of me but today I felt much better. I wasn’t even annoyed when Rio Ferdinand in an Audi A8 pulled out in front of me in Alderley Edge. I was comfortable and making good progress as I turned off the A34 towards the dreaded hill. There’s a level crossing which had to wait at as two trains went past. I got a theatrical start as the lights flashed and the gates lifted.
So enough and cut to the chase. Mow Cop is the steepest hill I have ever seen. Pictures do not do it justice. Videos do not do it justice. In fact, pictures make you think the steep bit is quite short. It’s not. I had to stop 3 times before I reached the top. The climb started at the 33 mile point for me, at an elevation of 938ft. 1 mile later I was at 1500ft – which is an average over a mile of 11.2% or 1 in 9 in old money. The section at the pub, which is by no means unique, was a staggering 40%
Although I had a rest at the top and something to eat, and the downward ride was great fun, the big mistake was that attempting to climb that kind of hill after 30 miles simply sapped my legs of anything left, so that the remaining 40 miles were a real struggle when faced with even slight inclines. However, I battled on and at about 50 miles got a second wind which helped carry me home. I was quite lucky with the weather. Few spots of rain and even my feet (in socks and freezer bags) were warmer. I was also lucky with my bike. About 300 yards from home I heard a loud PING! Looking down I couldn’t see anything but when I got home I could see that a spoke on the rear wheel had snapped. Local bike shop replaced all of them for me because they’d been damaged by the chain coming off at the top when the bike was new and the gears weren’t indexing correctly. A lucky escape.
The total ride was 71.2 miles at an average of 14.8mph. 4 hours, 49 minutes and 4382 kCals. Slightly disappointed – I need to be fitter and stronger going up hills.