Holme Moss

This has to be the most iconic climb I’ve done. It’s number 43 in the Hundred Greatest Climbs.

Now, there are harder climbs and longer climbs in the book. But I think this is so far the single greatest climb.

That said the book seems to just focus on the pure uphill bit of the climb. Which I think is wrong, I prefer the longer game.

Starting out of Holmefirth (last of the summer wine) and winding along the valley a little gradual up to warm the legs. Then it really stars with a vicious little up hill out of the saddle, just to make sure you’re hit hard to start with into Holme.

You’re rewarded with a short downhill before the real work begins and the book version of the climb starts.

As you’ve been approaching, you can see the road snaking up the hill. Usually with some poor sods struggling up on their bikes and the odd motorbike or car going past them.

The road surface is fantastic. The views, bends and gradient are cracking.

And best of all, there are distance markers on the road to show you how much more there is to go. The distance between the 3/4 of a mile marker and the 1/2 mile marker is the longest quarter mile I’ve ever ridden. But it’s great.

The Cat and Fiddle

Number 70 in the Hundred Greatest Climbs book, and this is a clear contender.

Starting in the middle of Macclesfield is not ideal, but, the road is a major route with a great surface. It’s never too steep. You never have to be out of the saddle on it. It even lets up with a couple of little downhill’s and a couple of “flattish” sections to let you recover and keep the push going.

It’s got bends. It’s got views.

It also has psychotic idiots on motorbikes (and I have gone over it on a motorbike, but not in a psychotic super-speed fit). This has eased since they “ruined” the road with the average speed cameras.

The biggest downside of the Cat, other than the start in Macc, is the fact it’s a 50 mile ride with some tough hills for me to get to the start 🙂

Gun Hill

Gun Hill is another climb in the 2nd book of climbs. Another 100 Greatest Climbs. It seems to be iconic with people we’ve passed on the road on that side of the Peak District. Not having the 2nd book, I’m not sure why.

I presume it’s used in the TOB a lot.

It’s an OK ascent, the surface is reasonable, it’s got a nice slow build up, then a steeper bit, then it levels off a little before a few more kicks and a bend and a bit of a “haha you didn’t save anything for this bit I hid round the corner” sadism.

Just not inspiring me.

As a descent though, it’s fantastic. The bends are just right for going down. The surface is good. It’s wide enough that you won’t get into too much trouble (slow a bit for the houses though!)

Definitely, for me, more of a hill to enjoy going down than an iconic uphill battle. I’d much rather go down it, then go up Thorncliffe Bank, which is a properly brilliant climb.

Slack Hill

Slack Hill is #139 in the 2nd book of Greatest Climbs.

Slack Hill is a great descent, catch it at the right time on a Sunday morning and it’s empty of traffic. It’s wide, good surface, straight and steep. At the bottom it ramps up the other side to slow down safely.

It is a main road from Chesterfield to Matlock though, so catch it at the wrong time and it’s not great.

Descending, I’ve done over 50mph on the bike. Felt great.

We rode up it. And it’s a rubbish climb.

It’s long and straight and a main road. I can’t see anything to recommend it at all to be honest. I’d never bother again. Just a boring slog with traffic going by. I don’t have the 2nd book, so I don’t know why it’s in.

Riber

Next on my list was Riber, #32 in the 100 Greatest Climbs. I actually hit it right after doing Bank Road. And you’re still in Matlock, and it starts climbing up through a residential area, is less than ideal.

Until you turn off onto the Riber itself, when it’s still a bit residential but then it’s hairpins, steep and evil.

The surface isn’t great, but it’s not totally awful either.

It scores 9/10, making it one louder than Winnats Pass. However, I think it’s not actually as tough as Winnats. It seemed to be easier to me. Not a lot. Just a bit.

It also seemed short. Winnats seems to keep going. There’s always a bit more that I forgot about. It’s always a bit steeper than I thought. The Riber was tough, and a hill is always tougher the first time you go up it. And there was one moment I wasn’t sure I’d make it up, but then I saw the top and knew I would.

So I’d not give it 9/10, I’d swap the score with Winnats.

It was a good climb though, views, toughness, no traffic. Enjoyable. And brings you out in a good place to drop down to Cromford and head off up Via Gellia or on for a ride elsewhere.

So I’ll do this one again.

Bank Road

Bank Road is #31 in the 100 Greatest Climbs book. It’s in there because it’s the venue for a famous hill climb race. Like quite a lot of the climbs seem to be.

Being in the book for being an iconic hill climb might be great for people who’ve followed cycling for years, keeping up with HC championships.

But I’ve got the book because I’m looking for great climbs to push myself up.

Now, being in Matlock, the buildings that line the climb are quite nice to look at as you go. And being in Matlock and on a hill, the surface is excellent. But you’re in Matlock. There are cars parked on both sides, buildings all the way up both sides. Traffic. Pedestrians. No view.

The climb was quite nice. In and out of the saddle. A nice gradient, tough, but not killing me.

Just don’t think it’s one of the hundred most enjoyable climbs to ride in the country. It’s just in there for it’s heritage as an HC ride. So, I won’t be bothering again.

Strava and Samsung Gear Fit Integration

I’ve recently got myself on the bleeding edge of technology by buying a Samsung Gear Fit smartwatch/fitness band. It’s a great looking smart watch, but, the software so far is a little bit flaky. I’m guessing it’ll get more stable as time goes on.

It does the job of a pedometer, HRM and exercise tracker as well as letting me choose which notifications that happen on my phone will also happen on my wrist.

I was slightly surprised that when Strava updated on my phone, an option for “App Connect” appeared on the Gear Fit with the only option being to enable Strava. On top of the option to have notifications from Strava on the watch.

I couldn’t quite work out what it did/would do so I contacted Strava support who took a little while to work out that basically it would display summary data from Strava while riding.

I usually track with my Garmin Edge 705, as I like the navigation, display options and the battery life on really long rides. But I thought I’d give the Strava app a go to test the fit tonight on a shorter evening ride.

First problem was that Strava crashed every time I started recording. I eventually un-installed and re-installed Strava and it ran.

Update: this was a bug with Strava 4.0.1, when I re-installed I got 4.0.2 which fixed the bug. Nothing to do with the fit.

Then on my wrist, time elapsed and distance were displayed, along with a “chequered flag” which I presumed stopped the work out. I pressed the button on the fit to go adjust the brightness. After that I couldn’t get the Strava app to display again on the fit.

So I stopped recording and started again, the fit screen went all garbled, it lost connection to the phone and rebooted. I tried again a few times. No luck.

So I rebooted the phone and the fit and tried again.

This time I got the display back, and didn’t turn it off!

This displays nicely the elapsed time and the distance:

Strava Summary on the gear fit
Strava Summary on the gear fit

I thought wouldn’t it be nice to see segment information, so tried swiping the screen, and there we had it, the last segment I had ridden with my time for the segment:

Strava Segment on the Gear Fit
Strava Segment on the Gear Fit

Great! Perfect for short evening segment hunting rides, I can see my progress through the latest segment, and I can see the PR maybe?

Only I can’t. After I got to the top of Give it Some to the Pub, it came up. Short segment. I then kept an eye on it as I dropped down through Killamarsh.

As I was trying to draft a big car through the village on the Killamarsh Tramstop Dash and then smash myself up Halfway Up, it was still telling me I was 100% through Give it Some to the Pub in 20s.

Which is a bit disappointing.

Still, it’s new, and can only get better!

And having a button instantly there on my wrist to stop the Strava app is neat, any time I do use the Strava app over my Garmin. Which given the instant segment information and the Gear Fit information (as it gets better) I am very likely to do for shorter rides.

I’ll pass the info on to Strava, and hopefully it’ll be made more stable soon.

Michaelgate

On Sunday, in the horrific wind (but otherwise rather nice weather) we took on a blast out east to go to Lincoln and ride up the Michaelgate climb.

We were going to Lincoln anyway, and I recently bought the book 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs and Michaelgate was in it. So we added it.

The book says:

Michaelgate is a true classic, a 1-in-6 cobbled road through the heart of Lincoln. The centrepiece of the annual Lincoln Grand Prix, one of the country’s greatest bike races, it’s a bone shaking, lung busting test of man and machine.

The book then goes on.

Which Michaelgate does not. It’s short.

I was expecting really steep, really treacherous cobbles. I was expecting to have to stay seated for traction on the rear wheel. Which would be a problem as I was on the winter bike with not the best hill gearing and a lot of extra weight.

I was expecting to fight my way to the top and collapse exhausted from this epic climb.

As it was, I got out of the saddle for my gearing, pumped away and was up it, and steep hill, and wondering why the pubs were still shut.

We’d ridden out for a pint, and been so fast the pubs weren’t open. So we sat outside the cathedral to fuel up and then set off again.

Here’s the Strava segment. Clocked in at 1’40, and 260th roughly out of 600 and some. I’d like to go back on the fast bike without the wind and see how much higher I can get. But. Not overly impressed with this climb.