Sunday, 8 July 2012

Haytor Vale and Salcombe Hill

I thought it was high time I finished off the climbs in Devon and so set off early on Saturday the 30th to take on Haytor Vale and Salcombe Hill. Setting off early is pretty essential when riding on Dartmoor at this time of year as the tourist traffic can get pretty heavy. I prefer to do my uphill suffering without having to dodge caravans.

I parked up at the top of Haytor around 8am and coasted down to the start. It was a good opportunity to scope out the climb and the gradient and I was quite pleased to see that the gradient varied a lot along the length of the climb. This sort of variable longer climb suits me better as I like the chance to ease off on the flatter bits. A longer climb also lets me get a bit more settled into a decent pace.

The ride up to Haytor has two distinct sections. The first is made up of the lower slopes where the majority of the 12% sections lurk. This part of the climb is quite sheltered and there was a lot of water on the road surface from the recent heavy rain. The lower section of the climb I found out is also sheltered from the wind and I was able to make good progress and managed to last a bit longer than I usually do before dropping down into bottom gear. My gears gave me a bit of hassle just after starting off and an unplanned pit stop was required to fiddle around with the front derailleur. It was fairly easy to resolve although I did need to make some further adjustments once I’d reached the top of the climb. Apart from that the only other thing I wasn’t expecting on the way up the climb was encountering wheel spin on a cattle grid. I would like to say it was because I was riding so hard that my back tyre broke traction. In reality the surface of the metal cattle grid was soaking wet. Gave me a bit of a shock though.


The second section of the climb is made up of the upper slopes and is much more exposed. Unfortunately the exposed nature of the climb meant that I had to deal with a nasty head wind which really slowed my progress up the final stretch. I was relieved to get back to the car as the final drag up to the car park at the summit was made far harder than it needed to be by the strengthening wind.

Haytor, looks impressive and sadly so was the strength of the head wind

After a quick breather at the top I loaded the bike into the car and headed off to Sidmouth to complete the final climb in Devon; Salcombe Hill.

Salcombe Hill is quite representative of the sort of climb I dislike. It is sort and steep, reaching a gradient of 20% at the top. The road up to the summit also proved to be very busy and it would seem the residents of Sidmouth don’t care much for cyclists and I grew pretty fed up with not being left much space by passing cars. Despite the steepness of the climb and the idiotic driving of a few motorists the climb was at least sheltered from the wind that had been an unpleasant feature of the top of Haytor Vale.

The gradient steadily ramps up as you ride up Salcombe Hill and perhaps unsurprisingly I got slower and slower the further up I went. Thankfully just as I thought I was about to explode I reached the top of the climb. Salcombe Hill was much shorter than I was expecting it to be and after a brief cool down on the flatter section of road at the top I was able to stick the bike back in the car and get home in time to watch the start of the Tour de France.

Next climb will be Weston Hill in Bath

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