Simon Warren: Chiltern climbs to watch out for
21st March 2017
The Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival, taking place on Sunday 16 July 2017, is set to be a fantastic and unique celebration of cycling. The Chiltern 100 Sportive routes take in the finest riding the Chiltern Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has to offer and are as testing as they are stunning. A number of notoriously tough climbs will feature on the day, and top cycling author Simon Warren has picked out his two favourites from this year’s route – the two hills you must fear over all others!
This hill earned its fame as the star attraction in a classic but sadly long gone British road race, the Archer Grand Prix. The inclusion of such a tough climb can make a race and for that matter a sportive and an event will gain a reputation because of it, attracting riders wanting to add their name to the list of winners or test themselves on its punishing slopes. You start the ascent by turning off the A4010 from Monks Risborough, climbing from the off. Smooth and straight, the gradient increases gradually up to a left-hand kink where it slackens. The road twists a little, passing houses as it makes its way towards where the serious business begins. Banking right, the climb soon hits its 1-in-7 rating and the surface gets rougher as the road passes under tree cover. From here it’s a real slog, a leg breaker, as it never relents, continuing steeply until the final left-hand bend alongside a small shelf of chalk. From here you face one final kick, one last effort before finally the gradient subsides and you reach the peak at the junction with Kop Hill.
There are many roads that criss-cross the Chiltern ridge; in fact you could cycle all day, up and down, and not ride the same climb twice. True, none of them are real killers; there are no 33% gradients but some are hard enough and long enough to earn a reputation and one of those is Kingston Hill. Start at the sign for the Kingston Blount Point-to-Point races, just before the gradient bites, and then really attack it. It’s a relatively short climb, so try to ride it at maximum from start to finish: keep the legs spinning, keep on top of your gear, and keep your effort high to power all the way through. The slope is gentle at first, but as the shadows of branches overhead replace the daylight, things get gradually tougher. Meandering left then right then left, the higher slopes are worn and pitted making your task harder, but maintain your momentum to finish just shy of the right-turn sign next to a private footpath on the left.
Simon’s book, Cycling Climbs of South-East England, is available here.
Are you up for the challenge? To find out more about the Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival and to secure your place, visit the event page.