I decided to tackle Cheddar Gorge as my third ride out of the hundred. After grinding my way up the monstrous climbs of Porlock Hill and Dunkery Beacon I fancied a change of pace. Cheddar Gorge is rated as a 3/10 by Simon Warren and I was hoping for a relatively easy ride.
After getting up stupidly early (5.30am on a Saturday morning, not recommended) I got to Cheddar just after 8am (I only live about 80 miles away but I'm very slow moving first thing in the morning) and found the road through the gorge totally free of tourist traffic. Even the car parks that line the gorge were empty. Given that Cheddar can be a bit tacky when the tourist season is in full swing (although I do approve of shops selling only cider) it was nice to ride through the place at a time when it was quiet. It does pay to get up early it seems, especially as the place was starting to get busier when I rolled back down the road back into Cheddar about 20 or so minutes later.
The climb started off pretty easily past the crappy faux ski resort buildings at the base of the climb and, apart from a couple of 16% hairpin bends about a 3rd of the way up, the gradient was pretty gentle all the way up. As you reach the top of the gorge the gradient lessens and the terrain opens up after passing through a wooded section and it is easy to start building up some speed. The only real problem I encountered was the reckless driving of some local delivery drivers. It is easy to forget that such a picturesque route is actually on a major road and the gorge has to deal with a lot of traffic.
There were plenty of other cyclists out on the roads. No doubt some of them were there to tick Cheddar off their own 100 climbs list. It was a pretty drama free affair and I had trouble editing the video together as there is only so much interest you can generate by showing endless scenes of cliffs slowly rolling by! I say slowly as I have wanted to ride Cheddar Gorge for a while and so took my time on the way up in order to take in all of the views. It really feels like a very special place to cycle through.
Don't worry. Normal service will be resumed on the 9th April when I take on Challacombe in North Devon. That hits 25% in places which I'm quickly realising is my least favourite of all the gradients. Expect slow cycling, heavy breathing and occasional swearing.