The Push Hog Diaries: Stage 6 – My Alpe d’Huez

Local folklore tells me that on the Big G there is a climb so tough that even the most hardened of club cyclist fear it’s name.

In fact some dare not even speak it’s name, to the people of the East of Yorkshire it is their Mont Ventoux and it goes by the name of Nunburnholme Hill.

I know it sounds like a bit of a comedy name, but I’m reliably* informed that by the time you get to the foot of the hill your legs will turn to jelly at the prospect and the majority of riders get off and push.

*Just how reliable by source is, however, is up for debate, I think they are just trying to wind me up!

In any case, I need to stop messing about on the flat of Holderness and start looking a bit further afield, so with a saddle bag borrowed from my mountain bike and a brand new pump, I set off in search my own Alpe d’Huez

It’s the morning of Sunday 27th May, I set off at 9am and the weather is perfect, sunny with a very slight breeze and around 15°C. I begin my ride in earnest when I join the A1035 Grange Way, just outside Beverley and head towards the suburb of Molescroft on the outskirts of the town, riding down Woodhall Way which leads onto Manor Road and eventually into the centre of the town. I then take my favoured route along York Road before heading towards Newbald Hill to warm my legs up before deciding which route to take at the junction with Coppleflats Lane.

On the lower slopes of Newbald Hill (I am doing my damnedest to make it sound steep!) I pass a road side feeding hole which already has several roadies supping a refreshing drink before they to head off on their own travels. I quickly find my rhythm and knowing that the road gradient will get worse, I increase my speed to around 17mph, which quickly decreases to 10mph when I reach the ‘kick’ point around 100m from the summit. It’s here I’m buzzed by an older gentleman travelling at quite a rate of knots, who then slows to match my speed only to inform me he also has a Cannondale, then accelerates back up the hill wishing me well on my travels! Friendly lot cyclists, well…most of them!

Approaching the cross roads at the end of Newbald Road, I have a few choices, I can head toward Bishop Burton and Etton, turn left and head for Walkington and High Hunsley or take the route I decide upon, which is to the small picturesque village of North Newbald, for it is here I have a score to settle. You see, a few years back I went on a mountain bike ride which began in North Newbald, with the first section a ride up the hill of Burgate. I was told to take it steady, as it was my first effort, but as I left the village I could see the top of the climb, so jumping out of my seat I did a ‘Richard Virenque‘ and jumped everybody to get the climb out of the way. To my horror the top of the hill I saw was a false summit, so by the time I got there I was spent and one by one my laughing companions passed me. They kindly waited for me at the top, but I could hide my embarrassment. Burgate Hill would not humiliate me again.

After leaving Newbald Road I head towards North Newbald via Walkington Heads which leads into Beverley Road and eventually the village. The road is undulating, with more down hill than up, but is a road which is difficult to get a rhythm and the 6 or so miles seems to take for ever, made worse when my chain flies off during a gear change.

When I eventually ride into North Newbald, cycling into the village centre, I decide to stop at a park bench on The Green and get my breath back before tackling my nemesis. After 5 minutes in the now warm sunshine I once again climb on my bike and attempt to cycle up Burgate.

I say attempt, as once again I make my life difficult by leaving my bike in the highest gear, so no sooner have I begun to peddle I’m now panicking to get out of my pedals before I fall over – much to the amusement of a young couple who happened to be walking past at the time!

Take two, I’m now in a more sensible gear and I begin the climb which starts in the village, but quickly moves into the rolling countryside. I’m finding my road bike very responsive at low speed, but it’s not long before I run out of gears, where on a mountain bike I’d be able to use a ‘granny cog’, now it’s man and machine v mountain (or small insignificant local climb, you choose).

Before long I’m committing the deadly sin of getting out of my saddle, but I’m conscious that the hardest part of the hill is coming up, a slightly banked corner, so I do my best to get a tempo going, but its no good, I’m now blowing out of my arse and I have to unclip before I roll backwards. I feel deflated.

I take a minute or two to get my breath back, hope back on my bike and finish the remainder of the climb, which finishes with the junction on the B1230 or The Avenue. I then head down hill steadily towards Walkington on the busy road, now filling up with fast moving cars, my least favourite thing about cycling. Luckily the road is smooth and I must average over 20mph on the return journey, but it doesn’t mask my disappointment of once again failing to get up Burgate. I know if I had a triple I would have made it, but that’s just a lame excuse, I’m just not fit enough.

My return to base camp is on roughly the same roads I started on a couple of hours before. I’m pleased looking at my GPS that I have at least covered a decent distance, with the ride been just over 20 miles, so better luck next time.

Total Distance Covered: 55 miles

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2 Responses to The Push Hog Diaries: Stage 6 – My Alpe d’Huez

  1. here says:

    A cool post there mate ! Thank you for that !

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