Beaten The Steep ‘Un

This ride turned into something bigger than it started out as. This was entirely unintentional, and just kinda happened on route.

Setting off I meandered down the A6, looking to get in a good hours worth of riding, one way or another. With having yesterday as a rest day (and a curry and beer for tea), I wanted to smash out 1000 calories, or greater.

I knew I could do this with ~2 hours on the road, at a fairly laid back pace.

On the way up the A6 I decided to turn inwards and head towards the hills. As the day was nice, summer kit and bib shorts abound, I felt getting off the main roads, away from the cars and the cross winds might be ideal.

And in doing so, I swapped out the wind for the flies. But hey, I was warm enough.

I kept going, not wanting to hit Beacon Fell, so figured maybe a tour around Longridge could be a good way to burn down the kilometres.

Then, off in the distance, I spotted Jeffrey Hill.

Now, there are three ways up Jeffrey Hill. There’s a long, fairly gradual climb up from Longridge. There’s a second approach which goes over Longridge Fell, and then there’s the shortest and steepest route.

Keen readers may remember I tackled this climb about 6 months ago, and failed.

I have to say, had I set off with doing this climb in mind, I might have wimped out.

This one is hard. Probably the second hardest climb I know of around here. And I must say, I was extremely anxious heading into it.

However, I did have some stuff in mind ahead of this one which I didn’t last time I tried.

Firstly, I didn’t have the Climb Pro active. Why is this good, and not bad? Well, the Climb Pro is great at telling you where you are on the climb, but it masks off the most useful metric in my opinion – watts per kilo. I use this all the time, and it keeps me in check.

Today, I made sure it was at or around 3.5w/kg at an average. Sure, there were times I was pushing much harder, and without the heart rate monitor, we will never know just quite how hard, but I knew enough to pace myself on the lower portion, and that definitely paid off.

Secondly, I wasn’t wearing a jacket today. I feel the extra layer, and therefore the extra heat, really worked against me last time.

Thirdly, I had a slightly better idea what to expect. I knew it started with some little punchy bits at the bottom, then came the brutal middle section, and then the 10% finishing stretch.

All that said, this was still absolutely brutal.

At the steepest point, doing about 7kph, out of the saddle, and gasping, I wanted to quit. No question. My brain was saying: “Chris, just turn around. There’s no shame. Just turn, it’s too hard.”

Fortunately another part of my brain was saying: “Don’t quit, keep pushing, we’re half way there, you’ll feel like a loser if you quit now.”

I listened to that second part of my brain, and it was easier after that horrible middle bit.

Anyway, my time was garbage, no question.

But I managed to get a time on the board, and that’s the main thing.

Last time I had to stop. Today, I did not.

After that, I pretty much just coasted home. Nice and easy from then on.

Mission accomplished, even if the mission was entirely made up mid-route.

Overall, really pleased. A great end to the week, and I’ve managed to lay to rest a thing that’s been hanging over me for 6 months or more.

Now to beat my time.

No, only kidding. Now to have a bath. Time beating another day.

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