£9.99 via Stanfords
A book held infamous within the cycling world. It was actually this book and Veloviewer which inspired us to share our own hill reviews at notinthepeloton but we have never had the chance to fully flick through the horror of Simon Warren's suggestions of the must ride 100 climbs in the UK. In fact, this book has spawned another 12 guide books across different regions although we're still waiting for that Ireland book Simon! We thought we would share our personal recommendations from the original 100climbs book all of which we have not conquered. Oh and just so you're aware, if you can prove you have climbed all 100 climbs, like the lucky ones off Blue Peter, you get to own a sacred badge only a few have earned..
We have visited the South West only once when Ali, Josh and myself spent a couple of days in Dartmoor and it made us realised the hills outside London are not really hills in comparison to the rest of the country. The climb that really caught our eye in this region was the the 20minute drag up Dunkery Beacon rated 10/10 by Simon. Now the ratings are based on length, gradient and surface. We feel the surface especially on every climb can play major a factor in the difficulty, a smooth surface makes a massive difference whereas a rough gritty road will just add resistance to the grind you're already facing. Dunkery is 3.2km long which doesn't make it long by any means so it's the gradient which will punch you in the gut here!
Alternatives: Cheddar Gorge, Crowcombe Combe
Forest Row, East Sussex
For us, any hill which has a 'nickname' and not named after a street like Staple Lane for example should be feared because the locals or who ever named the climb wanted to be sarcastic! We've heard about The Wall but never gotten around to climbing it - a 2020 goal perhaps to complete all this section? It's called The Wall because that's what you're literally faced with, a straight arrow of an onslaught to complete the climb!
Alternatives: White Down, York's Hill
Anything with 'Pass' in the name is going to mean it's up high and it's from this point in the book that the climbs become longer and steeper! Winnats doesn;t sound overly tough compared to other ones we've picked out and it's the landscape accompanying this climb which interests us, the picture used in the book reminds me of Cheddar Gorge and that hill is just surreal to ride up so if it's anything like that, you're in for a treat.
Alternatives: Mow Cop, The Burway
Rosedale Abbey, North Yorkshire Moors
So if it's not 'wall' or 'pass' it's chimney! To be honest, it's a scary section, all these climbs look horrific really so we've trusted Simon's opinion of the 10/10 climb of Rosedale Chimney. Well if Simon has snapped his chain twice on this climb, it deserves some respect with a section reported with a 1:3 gradient, this is a 9 minute climb of pain. We're imagining Barhatch on steroids!
Alternatives: Shibden Wall, Park Rash, Fleet Moss
St. John's Chapel, Durham
Highest paved pass in England apparently and there's roughly 19minutes of it! Gaining over 300m in elevation and over 4km in length, this sounds like a true grind up. The road looks mostly open too so you'll no doubt be battling with the weather as well as the climb.
Only climb I believe that has a 11/10 rating. It's just under 9km long with an estimated climbing time of 37mins making it the must climb of the book. Not sure I need to say more apart from I need to get myself up to the Highlands...preferably Summer time though!
Alternatives: The Lecht, The Cairnwell
A climb with a very interesting background and established as one of the hardest climbs in the land, Hardknott Pass looks and is a beast of a climb. We had to forfeit the Fred Witton Challenge this year but Chris Detsicas had a go confirming it's a hill to be feared. Built by the Romans (that's how old this road is!), it's got a great backdrop along with a couple of menacing hairpins. Simon claims if you can ride up this, you can ride up anything...
Alternatives: Honister Pass, Newlands Hause, Wrynose Pass
We just love the name but it's a 9/10 rating so the devil will be waiting for you and it's another climb with a feeling of steepnes in the name - 'staircase'! Not particularly long in comparison to some in Scotland but Wales is not known as being flat so this climb is one of many (The Road To Hell is 11km long whereas Fford Penllech has a 40% bend apparently!) which will get your heart burning and your legs creaking! Road trip anyone?!
Alternatives: Penbarra, The Road To Hell, Bwlchy-y-Groes, Fford Penllech, The Tumble