No 72 – The Rake

Climb number 72 in Simon Warren’s excellent book, 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, is The Rake in Ramsbottom.  It’s given an 8/10 rating in the book.  I plotted a ride that diverted from my usual Grane Road loop to take in this hill and chalk up my seventh climb from the book.

The weather was overcast when I set off, and chilly too considering it’s bloody August!  By the time I returned the heavens had opened and I was drenched!  The ride to the Rake was uneventful apart from the fact that my Garmin was playing up – claiming it had no saved routes even though I could see them when it was hooked up to the Mac.  More on some Garmin hints and tips in a later post.  I started up the climb and the road quickly becomes around 15% gradient for a while and then swings 90 degrees left and flattens out.  At this point I was thinking “is that it?”  Then the road turned right into a section that looked like the ramp from Mow Cop!  This section is marked as 25% on the sign at the start, and even has a handrail on the wall for pedestrians!  Although my heart-rate was maximum at this point I felt relatively comfortable, especially when the road flattened to a “mere” 20% gradient.  It was still very tricky – the road surface is very poor so you have to concentrate on line rather than just slogging upwards!  The hill is only about three-quarters of a mile and was over fairly quickly.  I’m not sure I’d rate it an 8/10.

The rest of the ride took me (very, very soggily) back onto my normal Grane Road loop.  I tried to really attack the remaining hills to get some training in, hitting max heart-rate a few more times.  Interestingly, GPSIES reports this ride as having a ClimbByBike index of 55.43 which is seemingly quite benign (by way of contrast – the Tan Hill Challenge had a ClimbByBike index of 210.04).  This is a method for rating climbs – click the links for more information.

Total Ascent - 1873ft

Overall, a very good ride, if a little damp.  Enjoyed the Rake – not sure what hill to tackle next!

Ride stats : 32 miles, 1hr 59m, average speed 16.1mph, 1873ft ascent, 1598kcals

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Getting faster!

Today I went out in the damp to do a quick blast round my favourite 32 mile route.

On Tuesday I blogged about my improvement on this route (here) and mentioned that my new target was to beat 2 hours.  So I thought I’d have a go at it today. After the first hour I’d done slightly over 15 miles which with most of the climbing out of the way meant I was in good shape

1726ft of climbing

Until I turned back on myself to come home and realised the reason I’d gone uphill well was I had a tailwind – and I now had it in my face on the downhill section.  It had about a 3mph effect but I pushed hard and finally managed to get home in 1hr 59m and 38s for an average of 16.2mph, which was a real struggle with the traffic being worse than a weekend.

So having had some time off work I’ve managed 5 rides in 7 days for a total of 317 miles and 12821ft of climbing.  My legs are feeling strong and I’m looking forward to this weekend being the last one for longer/harder rides.  After that I’ll taper down with some commuting and a couple of club runs.  Then the real work starts!

#lejog Training – Wet, Windy and Yet More Hills

Woke up to a cold and damp morning with my legs feeling particularly heavy from yesterday’s hill-fest in Lancashire.  I guess this is what the actual journey is going to feel like at times (only worse) although I’m hoping that excitement and adrenaline will play their part.  Had to be back early today so decided on a shorter route but still with some “lumps” to get over.  The route heads north towards Blackburn over the Grane Road and then turns back on itself and down to Bury and home.  It’s a favourite of mine.

It was made a bit harder by the rain and the headwind as I headed north.  The north bit is the uphill bit – so just what I needed was an added headwind.  One of the reasons that Land’s End to John o’ Groats is considered easier than the other way round is that generally the prevailing wind is south-westerly giving you a push.  However, having followed the weather closely for the last few months there seems to be an awful lot of northerly winds which will be a nightmare if it turns out like that at the end of June!

Much of making it over hills is in the mind.  Quite often your body has plenty in reserve but your mind tells you to stop.  I decided today I’d do some “mental training” by staying on the big ring up all the hills.  The temptation would be there to make life easier and go to the granny ring but this would be good for mind over matter, not to mention helping build up the power in my legs.

1749ft of climbing

I have to say it was a struggle, what with the headwind and the rain, but I did it.  And I beat my best time on this route.  In May last year I did this route in 2 hours and 39 minutes, averaging 12.1mph.  In February this year, as my only training ride of the week, I did it in 2 hours and 14 minutes, averaging 14.4mph.  Today I did it in 2 hours and 8 minutes, averaging 15mph which I am very pleased with, especially after yesterday and the conditions.  Interestingly, in February I used 2109kcals of energy and had an average heart-rate of 148bpm.  Today I used 1761kcals with an average heart-rate of  135bpm.  I think these are good indicators of how far I’ve come.  My next target will be to beat 2 hours on this route!

32 mile training ride with Pete and Andy

After a mix-up about times I went for a training ride with two of the guys who will be doing the LEJOG – Pete and Andy.  Pete had been asking about doing a ride with hills, so I offered to take him round the 32 mile circuit I use looping out of Bury and through Haslingden and the Grane Road towards Blackburn.

This includes a decent climb up the Grane Road and a couple of smaller ones

Considering Pete had just come back from a 2 week all-inclusive holiday he did pretty well.  Total mileage 32 miles at 14.4mph and 1854ft of climbing.  Total calories 1712kcal.

10 weeks to the off

In 10 weeks time we’ll be in Land’s End pondering an early start the following day.  Hopefully the weather will be as nice as today.  Went for a shortish training ride north towards Blackburn and a loop back through Haslingden.  Shorts weather, only two layers for once and nice weather.  The Garmin, or my software, seems to have played up on how much climbing I did.  As you can see from the screenshot it believes I went below sea level a couple of times; presumably I must have cycled into a pesky old mine shaft without realising it.

Garmin gone mad...

Anyway, I used gpsies.com (great site by the way) to plot the route and it reckons there was 2333ft of climbing in 38 miles – it certainly felt a hilly route.  Average speed was 15.1mph which suggests my legs are getting more used to climbing hills and I used 2206kcals.

Hopefully the rest of the weekend will be as good.

#lejog Saturday morning training ride – 42 miles

This morning I’d decided to go for a shorter distance but with a few more hills.  I’m nervous that I’m not particularly good at hills and there are a fair few on an end-to-end, especially at the start in Cornwall; although bizarrely very few people believe this.

So I rode up through Bury on Walmersley Road and into Rossendale and then over the Grane Road to Blackburn.  Back up the Grane Road before turning off down through Edgeworth and Tottington and back home.  Felt very comfortable – 2427ft of climbing and a reasonable (if not great) average speed of 13.9mph over 42 miles.  Last time I rode this route my average was 12mph so I am definitely making progress.  Used up 2578kcals.  May even decide to go out tomorrow morning too.