Sunday, 18 March 2012

First two rides wasn't pretty

This is just a quick update before I get down to looking through the footage shot on today's two rides.

First hill up was Porlock Hill. Lets just say at this point that it wasn't pretty.

I thought I would start with one of the big hitters in the South West mainly to see just how off target I was in my preparations. Turns out very off. I made it up past the first vicious hairpin OK and them just sort of ground to a halt halfway between it and the second hairpin. Some swearing and a bit of walking then followed as it was obvious the gradient meant that getting going again was going to be very difficult and dicey on such a steep busy road. Normally walking up a hill is easy. With Porlock it wasn't (imagine trying to push your bike up the side of a house) and so I was soon back on the bike and slowly winching my way up to the top. A few more stops were needed en route though as I really struggled to get into a decent rhythm. Stop once on a climb like Porlock and you're doomed.

Within a couple of hundred meters to the top I realised I had taken a bit too long to get to there when my helmet camera signalled to me that the memory card was full and was about to stop recording with an ominous beeping. More swearing followed at this point as I realised that once at the top I would have only my low resolution mobile phone camera to prove I had made it.

Overall I'm not happy with my performance on Porlock Hill at all. I knew it was going to be tough but it was almost comically so.

 A brief pause before what must be one of Britains scariest road descents; it gets steeper. And greasier, and twistier.

The decent back into Porlock was as scary as the ascent was painful. The roads were greasy and on a couple of occasions the escape roads on the outside of the hairpins started looking inviting. My wheel rims were getting hotter with all of the braking I was doing  as the descent wore on and I had to brake carefully to avoid blowing a tyre.

I have a feeling I'll be back to Porlock at some point in the future with a point to prove. The hill will probably still win but It just didn't go at all well today and I want to at least improve on my performance (and maybe take the less scary toll road back down).

The second hill of the day was the one up to the top of Dunkery Beacon.

This has a lesser gradient than Porlock but is still a savage ascent. Gallingly I could only find somewhere to park halfway up and so had to ride to the bottom before starting the climb proper. There was a point when I pedalled past my car that I was tempted to get back in it.

Where I was the only cyclist on Porlock I had plenty of company on Dunkery as Sunday is obviously the day when cyclists choose to hurt themselves on Exmoor. It was comforting to see a few other cyclists struggling with the relentless 13 – 17% gradient. I saw a range of coping mechanisms on display from walking to zigzagging all over the road and my own personal favourite; stopping to take in the views. I would call them breathtaking views but I didn't have any breath left by the time I made the halfway point. I even met somebody I know during one of these impromptu rest stops which was quite a surprise.

The story of Dunkery is a bit more satisfying than Porlock as despite the sufferfest on the way up I felt I was a bit more comfortable with the gradient. My main problem was that I'm not used to riding that sort of gradient for that sort of distance. My training rides normally take in hills as steep as 17% but they never go on for as long and the hills I'm used to riding tend to have a greater variation along their length in terms of gradient. I'm clearly going to have to start building some repetitions of the hardest sections into my training.

I don't normally try to tackle a steep climb with a bruising ascent of Porlock Hill already in my legs either to be fair so I can at least say I made it to the top of two Exmoor climbs. Eventually.

The ride back down to the car from the top of Dunkery Beacon was more fun than Porlock and the view from the top was pretty special as well so it was a much better experience all round.

When I've had time to look through the footage from today I'll stick the videos up. This will hopefully be by the end of the week. There is much swearing and looking at the scenery to be edited out...

No comments:

Post a Comment