Hills And Hailstone

Given I’ve had the laziest bike week in recent memory (3 rest days), I figured I would do something a little more endurance related for today’s ride. I didn’t have a set route in mind at the point I was setting off, but decided I’d head out towards Longridge, and then see what happens.

The ride out to Longridge is a fairly long and gradual climb. We’re talking ~1%, but for about 10km. This all went fine enough. I wasn’t pushing myself, just kinda taking in the early afternoon ahead of a bank holiday, and a nice early (1.30pm) finish from work. Very chilled.

Staying off the main roads, I found myself approaching Longridge from the east. Ahead of me were several choices – cut through Longridge and then head back into Preston, take Jeffrey Hill up the gentle route, or the one I ultimately chose, have another smash at the steepest way up Jeffrey.

Even though I managed to make it up last time, I have to say I was nervous of this one today. Apprehensive is perhaps a better word, really. I stopped ahead of the climb. Took some water, and took my rain jacket off. One thing I was aware of last time was that when I tried, and failed to make it up (without stopping), I had over heated. This was partly due to bad ride management, but also partly due to too many layers.

Heading into it, there were two riders ahead of me. They were doing something I’ve never seen before, which was to zig-zag across the road, rather than heading straight up. Not sure why that would be, or what benefit it gives, so answers in the comments if you know anything about this?

There’s a really weird vibe about that climb. Whereas it had been windy all the way as I was riding there, just like last time, the wind just kinda dies off at the bottom. It goes super quiet. And because it’s steep, and I’m therefore travelling slowly, it just seems so … memorable? I don’t know. I quite like it, but it’s so unusual.

I feel I gave a much better attempt at this one today. I was out of the saddle twice, but in both times I feel I used my energy well. That climb is just absolutely brutal, however you look at it. I don’t know exactly how steep the steepest part is, but I’m guessing above 20%. The nuts thing is I was in my easiest gear before I’d even reached the steep bit.

Anyway, I made it up.

And today I decided to carry on, over the top of Longridge Fell, and then enjoy the ripping descent down. It goes on for ages, and it’s fast, too. I saw 62kph on the speedo, which just felt nuts. Combine that with a cold wind and by the time I was about half way down, my head felt like I was getting a wind chill headache. I kept vowing to stop, put my hood up, and carry on. But in the end I just drifted down and down, into Ribchester.

With that part done, I was thinking I’d take a route back that involved not so many fast / busy / scary roads. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of one. So I ended up on some hairy dual carriageways. Having cars, vans, and trucks bombing past at 70+mph is just scary af. I did not enjoy that bit.

Once that fun was over, I had a hill climb ahead but it was road works so stationairy traffic. Onto the path I went, bump and dangerous, littered with tree bits and lumpy tarmac. And to add to it, the hailstone started. Ouch. I got a proper pelting for my sins.

From there, I decided to heck with it, home time. Not much to report after that.

All in all, a great ride. Really pleased I didn’t wimp out the climb, and I feel that with the recovery in the legs, I was due a proper effort. I feel I did better than last time, and whilst I’m tired now, it feels like it was worth it.

Hoping to get out for the next three days, but the weather looks garbage so I’ll be playing it by ear. I hope your bank holiday weekend has gotten off to an equally good start.

2 thoughts on “Hills And Hailstone”

  1. We used to zigzag up steep hills on our bikes as kids! Made it easier on the steep hills on the old bmx! These days it’s 34-30 or 42-42 on the gravel bike and RIP knees.

    • Holy moly. Makes sense, would not like to do that climb on a BMX 😀 I was out of gears on the pre-climb tbf.

      Zig zagging just seems like it would take twice as long. My mindset is get the pain over with ASAP – straight up, slow as a slug.


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