The Push Hog Diaries: Stage 12 – The Fog

Last week I spoke to a couple of more experienced cyclists, one of which was good enough to supply me with a list of the 20 hardest climbs in the local area. The list was published by Hull Thursday Road Club, a local cycling club and the organisers of the Big G.

[EDIT: I am reliably informed by Chris Bailey from Cycle Seven that the list of hills was compiled by Roger England of Hull & East Riding CTC, so thank you to both Roger & Chris for your help]

Interestingly Trundlegate (13% maximum gradient) and Burgate (10%) don’t feature in the top 10, but they are represented, so that’s a relief.

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I can’t help but notice that Nunburnholme Hill, the toughest climb in the 60k Big G route, makes an appearance at No.7 in the list, with a maximum gradient of 14%, no wonder its despised by all who dare climb her!

I’m already thinking about doing each of the climbs as my next challenge, but one step at a time, I need to up my training for the Big G first. With this in mind, and a very temporary lull in the damp weather, I set out on Thursday 5th July to try and get some more miles under my belt.

On my ride, for the second week running, I was joined by Marvin, we started at the Molescroft Pavilion and rode up towards the Westwood to warm our legs up on Newbald Hill.

As my cycling computer had stopped working on our previous ride I felt slightly uncomfortable riding without knowing my speed and distance covered, which I think subconsciously makes you ride faster, I certainly had a decent ride up the Newbald Hill and never dropped out of the big front ring.

Once at the junction with Coppleflats Lane, we turned left and followed the road down, then up, towards the traffic lights with Broadgate on the outskirts of Walkington. After my exertions on the previous hill I struggled early on in this ride, having peaked too soon it took me a while to find a rhythm, this particular section of road making me work harder than usual.

At the lights we rode straight on, staying on Coppleflat Lane, which undulates until you gently rise towards the left hand corner which leads towards the village of Bentley. At this point I’m beginning to get into my stride and although still falling behind when going up hill.

After just over a mile of riding we approach the junction with Dunflat Road, where we take a right turn and cycle towards Little Weighton on a narrow and relatively even country lane. As the road is quite flat it comes as a great relief to me, as I can recover knowing that this is the easy part of the ride and there is much tougher terrain to come.

It’s not long before the junction with Risby Hill approaches and again we take a right hand turn and accelerate down into the village of Little Weighton, the steep incline taking me by surprise as a hurtle towards the corner with Old Village Road, narrowly missing a car which was cutting across the left hand corner.

That was a close call, but I had no time to think about near misses, as the road quickly begins to rise out of the village along Whitegap Road. It’s a long hard slog, not steep, but hard enough that I’m up and down my gears and, again, it’s not too long before Marvin is away in the distance and I’m having to play catch up.

Luckily the chance of making up ground arrives at the junction with Comerdale Hill, which Marvin completely misses and has to double back to catch me up as we approach the cross roads with Westoby Road. We cross the road and continue our ride, which is now to the tune of a clanking rear derailleur on Marvin’s bike, not that it seems to hamper him much.

Now that I am getting used to my gears, I ride with a Shimano Tiagra group set, I find that a lot of the gears I want or rather need are between other gears, it can be quite frustrating and leads to having to change gear more often than I would like and spending less time on improving my cadence and riding style. I guess in hindsight I should have gone with a triple group set for my first road bike.

As Comberdale Hill gently rises giving fantastic views across the East Yorkshire countryside, it’s not long before long we turn right on to Beverley Road, which leads towards the popular village of South Cave. The road steeply falls through a small wood and we race at high speed towards the village centre, reaching speeds of almost 40mph, exhilarating and frightening at the same time, for the whole hill I feathered my brakes, but yet it made no difference and I feared disaster when I developed a speed wobble – I was glad when I reached the bottom!

Now in the village centre, we ride along Church Street and eventually join Sand Lane, which unspectacularly leads out of South Cave and heads towards the neighbouring village of North Cave, passing both HMP Everthorpe and HMP Wolds.

We ride into the village, setting off the speed warning sign, always a satisfying sight for any cyclist. At the junction with Westgate we turn left and cycle through the village centre, before taking a right turn on to Townend Lane. As we head out of North Cave, we take a right onto Hotham Road, a narrow country lane which starts with a small climb before levelling off.

As we approach the village of Hotham, now on North Cave Road, we join Rectory Lane, which quickly leads onto Main Street, here we take a sharp right turn on to Church Lane and once over a small hump back bridge we continue our ride along Radcroft Lane.

In the distance we see a group of riders approaching, some of which are sporting Hull Thursday jerseys, as they speed past some of them exchange greetings, which is always welcome when you meet much more experienced riders, it’s certainly better than been sneered at!

Radcroft Lane, a narrow country road, continues for a couple of miles before ending at the cross roads with the dangerous A1034, here we nip across the road into South Newbald, passing Trundlegate, and heading off towards North Newbald for a well earned break.

We pick our usual spot on a park bench to take on board some liquids and a block or two of ‘Cumbrian EPO‘ and then watch as the weather changes from a mild hazy sunshine into cold and thick fog. In fact the fog rolled over the hills overlooking Newbald as if a blanket was pulled over our heads, a worry as we still have 10 miles to travel, the first section up hill.

We gather ourselves together and keep to our game plan to ride up Burgate, a hill I’ve never managed to climb, even on a mountain bike. Burgate or North Newbald Hill, can be broken down into four seperate climbs of around 500m each. The first kick straight out of the village is a steep ramp which levels off and moves slightly down hill to the base of the next incline. The second climb is the easiest, but seems to last forever before levelling off. The third is the most difficult and begins on a slightly banked corner and steeply climbs to the cross roads with Whin Lane and Littlewood Road. The final climb towards High Hunsley is relatively shallow, but by the time you’ve dragged yourself to this point, your legs are aching, so it can seem more difficult than it is.

At the bottom of the hill I set my stall out early and used a low gear as we cycled out of the village. It wasn’t long before Marvin pulls away, but I knew what was coming and if I was to get to the top I had to take it easy and save energy. As we rode from safety of the village and into the cold grasp of the fog, it seemed almost eerily quiet, without any kind of view of the surrounding countryside I find the first part of the climb easier than expected, as all I want to do is get off this road as neither of us have lights and although it’s only 8pm on a summers evening, it might as well be midnight.

Although it was a struggle at no point did I feel like I wouldn’t get to the top, I just plodded along taking small sections at a time, splitting the hill down and working my legs and bike hard. It took around 15 minutes of climbing before we reached the turning with Littlewood Lane, we had decided at the bottom of Burgate to take the back roads home, so we left the final section of the climb for another day.

Once on Littlewood Lane we passed a fellow cyclist putting his bike into the back of his Landrover, we still had 8 miles cross country in thick fog before we could do the same. We pushed on and as the road towards Walkington rolls gently down hill, we ride at a steady 20mph, keeping an ear out for any motorists, luckily none come and before long we find ourselves on the outskirts of the village, having negotiated the cross roads with Wold Road. Once in Walkington we retraced our earlier steps following the Newbald Road back into the safety of Beverley having covered almost exactly 30 miles.

The first section of this ride was excellent and I’ll certainly be doing it again, the second part on paper was just as interesting, but the weather spoiled any satisfaction I got from finally conquering Burgate.

Total Distance Covered: 176 miles

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