Monday, 28 May 2012

Combe Gibbet and Streatley Hill

On the 24th May I used a pre-arranged journey to get the rides on Combe Gibbet and Streatley Hill under my belt. Unfortunately it was quite a long journey and so by the time I got to the foot of the climb up to Combe Gibbet I’d been in the car for nearly three hours, it was three o’clock in the afternoon and the heat had been building all day.

                                          Mobile HQ in yet another remote country layby

We've had some very hot weather recently and I don’t generally fare well in hot conditions. Sure enough by the time I’d got the bike out of the car and carried out a brief warm up ride up and down the country lane leading to the climb I was already feeling cooked.

Combe Gibbet should be a very quick and easy climb. It is steep but nothing too severe and it is also very short. My time up wasn't too bad, about eight minutes but I suffered for every pedal stroke. I really do seem to be a cold weather person. Once at the top however I was able to admire the views as it was such a fine day. Seeing as I was on my Surly Cross Check which is rather good at gravel roads I decided to make up for my slow performance on the tarmac section of the climb up to the Gibbet and ride along the public byway to get to the actual Gibbet itself. This part isn't in the 100 climbs book but I thought I may as well get the maximum benefit for my efforts.

                                 The Cross Check in it's natural habitat; propped against a fence

After descending from Combe Gibbet I got straight back in the car and headed to Streatley. I didn't really get much chance to cool down and as a result Streatley was just an unpleasant experience all round. I got to the climb for about 4.30pm and the traffic was already starting to get heavy. Like Combe Gibbet the heat had been rising all day and the fact that Streatley Hill is a sheltered climb with lots of trees didn’t help as it meant there was no breeze available to circulate the air. It felt pretty airless and I suffered really badly. I did complete the climb but I’m very disappointed with how it went. I regularly ride up a road similar to Streatley Hill on training rides and I can get up it quickly and easily. In the heat I struggled up Streatley like a dying man (which is roughly how I felt once I got to the top). I should have been able to dispatch the climb easily and instead it very nearly dispatched me! I may have the chance to take it on again as I’m quite often in the area for work. I just feel I can do it so much better. Likewise I would like to return to Combe Gibbet. The climb is in a lovely area and I can see the climb featuring in a nice autumn ride around some of the nearby villages.

Some valuable lessons were learnt however and I know now that if I'm going to be travelling long distances any climbs will need to wait until after a sufficient rest. Sitting in a car for three hours and then trying to ride up steep hills almost immediately doesn't work, no matter how much of a warm up I do on a country lane before hand.

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