Tuesday 10th October 2017
The 100climbs list. You should all know it. It's now legendary folklore. It's what the non-pro rider judges themselves on and if you can tick off each climb, you become part of a very exclusive club (bit like receiving a Blue Peter badge, we've only ever seen one and our mate brought it at a car boot!). But there's no faking climbing. It's the hill and you. To coincide with his release of his mini-guide boxset, we caught up with Simon Warren, the man behind the climbs to see what made him crazy enough to take up climbing for a living and obviously, his favourite ever climbs!
Simon. You are notorious in the cycling world for your 100climbs series. What made you pursue the first 100? Are you that mad for climbing?
I was always quickest up hill at my first cycling club and this led me to travelling around during hill climb season to race up famous hills such as Riber, The Rake and Nick o Pendle. Then one day, many years later I decided there should be a little book that tells all cyclists exactly where all these great hills are.
We have to get the cliché question out of the way. Hardest climb in the UK you have conquered and abroad?
Hardest in the UK is called The Cowlyd, climbing out of Trefriw in north Wales. It’s a savage road with close to what feels like a kilometre of 20% gradient. You can find my full report in my book the Cycling Climbs of Wales. Abroad, well that’s The Angliru in northern Spain. So far it’s the only climb to beat me, partly because I only had a 39/27, one day I will return with a compact and have my revenge.
You have probably explored every inch of Britain. What region has the best climbs? We’re talking enjoyment rather than just pure pain!
This is almost impossible to answer but for sheer concentration of accents mixed with beauty of surroundings you can’t get much better than the North York Moors. There are more 30% signs here than anywhere else in the land, and isn’t the pain the enjoyment? Or am I missing something?
Is there any regions you want to explore more of? Correct us please but we have not come across a Northern Ireland 100climbs book yet? (Mrs Notinthepeloton is from there and it’s not flat at all!).
I desperately need to explore the whole of Ireland, north and south, it’s just the economics of the project, oh and doesn’t it rain all the time? One day I will make amends.
100climbs is predominantly a British thing. Is your dream to take 100climbs over the world? TV series perhaps?
Well I have covered Belgium and France, and have made a start on Italy. I dream of California, but then most people do, maybe Colorado, the Spanish Islands, the subjects are limitless, I just need my publisher to give me the nod. As for TV, well I did have a slot on the defunct Cycle Show on ITV, and was lined up to do a series with a recently gone bust cycling channel. I think time is up for this sort of content on traditional TV, it belongs on the Internet and to GCN. However I will still wait by my phone just incase I get the call again.
What bike do you currently ride for your ascents?
I ride a French made Time carbon frame with a Campagnolo Record groupset and an old pair of Zipp 303 wheels for racing only. It’s in its fourth season and hopefully I’ll get at least four more out of it.
Have you ever everested a hill or thought about doing one?
Not yet but I have made plans, I have a hill in mind, (top secret!) I have worked out a schedule for a 10 hour ride, I just need a compelling reason to put my self through the pain.
Being the go to guy for climb breakdowns, number one tip for your novice climbers?
Do your home work, or to quote RATM ‘know your enemy’, then adjust your pacing accordingly. If there are no surprises then you will be able to measure your effort out across the length of the hill. If you’re struggling up hills in general, then chances are you just need to be lighter and short of throwing £10K at your bike that unfortunately means cutting out the crisps and cakes. Oh and if you find yourself floundering on a hill, don’t look up, don’t think of the finish line, deal with the here and now, each revolution will get you closer, just make sure you keep the pedals turning.
Finally, will 100climbs end when it becomes a 1000climbs or will you be climbing until every ascent in the world has been logged?
A bit like the Terminator I ‘absolutely will not stop, ever’ until I have ‘Ridden them all’.
Thank you for your time and hope to try and pass you on a hill in the near future (we wish!).
The Britain's Greatest Cycling Climbs by Simon Warren is now available at Waterstones