I decided that my route this morning would take in The Rake, which I’ve written about before. It’s in the 100 Greatest Climbs book and coupled with the rest of my ride up Grane Road is part of a shortish hilly loop I like to do from time to time.
The Rake is in Ramsbottom. As you cross the main A676 onto Carr Street the road starts to rise. You have maybe a hundred yards grace and then you are into a 19% gradient. That’s relatively short and as the road dog-legs left at the Rose and Crown pub onto Tanners Street the gradient settles down to the mere teens giving you a bit of a breather! It then flattens further still as Tanners Street gently arcs to the right. These are narrow residential roads and are not in the greatest state of repair but so far I’ve been lucky and not met any cars on them. At this point you’re probably thinking “is that it?” but then round the
apex of the arc you spot the sign. The sign that says 25% on it! And you realise you’re not done yet. Turning slightly right you find yourself on Rawson’s Rake. It’s steepness is a bit like one of those roads Wily Coyote paints on a cliff to trap the Roadrunner. As well as that there are two things you notice. One is how bad the surface is, which makes it even harder as you need to be aware of your line rather than just head down and grind. The second is the fact there is a handrail for pedestrians! The rake runs out into Chapel Lane and gradient drops down below 20% again.
As opposed to my heart-rate which carried on at quite high rate for some time! The climb is over when you reach the junction with Helmshore Road, at which point a passing cyclist simply nodded at me and said “Well done!”
Mark’s cycling blog contained some great technical and scientific tips for hill climbing in this post here. Here are some non-scientific tips that have helped me actually enjoy hills
- Practice, practice, practice! The only way to get better at hills is to ride them. I hear lots of people say that they aren’t good at hills and they avoid them. Find yourself a hilly circuit and do it regularly. You will get better, and it will benefit all your riding.
- It’s all in the mind. Half the battle with hills is in your head if you ask me. Mow Cop, for example, defeats lots of riders before they’ve even tried it. They watch the video, listen to the stories and mentally they are beaten before they start. Be mentally strong and think positive. Your body will keep going for quite a while after your head is telling you to jack it.
- Go at your own pace. Don’t be suckered into racing people if you don’t want to.
- Smoothly does it. Gear changes, cadence, changing riding position – do them smoothly and as efficiently as possible. Your aim is to lose as little energy as possible.
- Use the terrain. If there’s a down before an up then use the momentum – don’t bleed energy yourself by changing gear too early, but do it smoothly as your momentum starts to stall.
- Cadence – try to keep a good cadence or you will hurt your knees.
Ride stats : 32 miles in 2hrs 4m @ 15.4mph average. Total climb 1864ft, energy 1574kcals and average HR 136bpm.