Easter is almost upon us and the first long weekend of the year is a great opportunity to dust off the summer bike and get some miles under the belt. For those seeking a new challenge this Easter or simply a change from your normal routes why not get out, explore and conquer one of these iconic climbs?
5 Iconic Climbs
These fair isles feature some of the most iconic and epic climbs (and dare I say notorious?) to be found worldwide . In the Alps you are tested as much by the length of the climb as by the severity of the gradient. Here in the UK the climbs tend to be short and in most instances very steep. Below are 5 of the most iconic of climbs, all of which feature in the book of the 100 greatest cycling climbs. We have selected one from each area, so if you are feeling like a challenge this weekend one of these will hopefully be accessible to you.
Scotland – Bealach-Na-Ba
This has been described as the wildest climb in Britain and for good reason. The weather conditions are more often than not testing and the climb itself is simply brutal. Such is the severity of the gradient it rated an 11 out of 10 in the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs book! Situated on the rugged West Coast of Scotland, it climbs for just short of 9km (8980m) and ascends for a total 2044ft (650m).
Climbing Northwest out of Tornapress the gentle ascent at first lulls you into a false sense of security. Just after the halfway point the road ramps up to 20% for 500m to leave you craving some respite. Dubious relief is offered when you arrive at the hairpins near the summit. Unfortunately, you still have the 25% gradients of the corners themselves to contend with. Compared to what proceeded them however, they will feel almost like a relief. The fantastic views when you reach the summit however makes the effort all worthwhile.
Wales – The Tumble
Located in Govilon, Monmouthshire, The Tumbles covers 5.1km and rises just over 1300ft (399m). This well known and popular climb has featured in the Tour of Britain and offers the rider a serious challenge. It rates a 7/10 on the hardest climbs list so is a decent test for any cyclist.
Setting out from the village of Govilon the road is at first a gentle ascent and only once you hit the hard left hand bend do things become altogether a little more serious. With the road climbing steeply through trees, the road surface deteriorates for the long, steep trek to the summit. The Tumble offers the rider some stunning, as far as the horizon views of the county of Monmouthshire.
South – Box Hill
Now, easily recognisable as one of the most popular climbs in the UK. This iconic climb featured in the 2012 Olympics road race and is regularly used for the annual London-Brighton sportive. Featuring a climb of only 2.5km and ascending a total of 393ft (120m) it is easily the easiest climb on this list, hence it only scoring a 3/10 for difficulty. The gradient is steady and in truth not too taxing but well worth it for the climb up the side of this beautiful hillside. There is a cafe situated at the summit so why not reward yourself with the cyclists essentials, a coffee and cake .
Midlands – Winnats Pass
When choosing the midlands area it was a toss up between this and Mow Cop. Winnats just about comes out on top for the sheer majesty of the climb. Situated in Castleton, Derbyshire , Winnats Pass climbs for 1.7km and ascends 650ft (198m) and scores a stomach churning 8/10 for difficulty. The pass itself cleaves it way through the limestone hillside and climbs features a gradient of 1 in 5 all the way. This leaves you plenty of opportunity to take in the stunning scenery thereabouts. As you climb, the walls of the cleft through the limestone hillside slowly disappear. Leaving in their place, the grass covered, majestic limestone pinnacles to soar above you, leaving you breathless and from more than just the epic ascent.
North – Hardknott Pass
The North as anyone from up here will tell you is not short of a lung bursting climb or 2 to test your mettle against. There are plenty of contenders for this list. But for sheer iconography, its tough to omit Hardknott from the list. Even the best of climbers fear to tread the slopes of this brutal climb. It climbs for a total distance of 2.25km and ascends for 977ft (298m) and rightly scores a 10/10 for difficulty.
For the ultimate challenge, tackle it from the east and very quickly you reach a set of switchbacks which feature corners of 25% gradients. From there you receive a much needed respite as the road briefly flattens. Before you know it you have reached the 2nd set of switchbacks which feature energy sapping corners of an even steeper 30%! Many a rider strives to complete the ascent without putting the dreaded foot down. But if you do not manage this exemplary feat do not dismay. For you will join a long list of those who have succumbed to this fearsome test of cycling endurance!