Sunday, 29 July 2012

The summer holidays are here…time for a break

Well, that isn’t strictly true; the summer holidays are here for everybody with children at school and to avoid hassle with overly busy roads, long delays in traffic and finding accommodation I’m putting the hill climbing on hold until September. Travelling between the hills is time consuming, and sometimes stressful, enough and I could do without adding to that by having to deal with tourist traffic. I’m also entering a phase in this challenge when I will need to spend several days away from home in order to tick of the climbs in different parts of the UK now that I have pretty much finished the South West. Finding somewhere to stay at the height of the tourist season will be difficult, and pricey, so I think it is better to spend August preparing for the next phase of my 100 climbs challenge and be ready to start making progress again in the autumn. That isn’t to say that I’ll be taking it easy on the beach with a beer in the meantime. In fact August is going to be a pretty busy month as I prepare to take on the climbs in Wales.

From September I’m intending to start taking on the 80 of the remaining climbs region by region with Wales as the first target. The planning has started and I’m already past the stage of plotting out where the climbs are and the route to follow. I’m going to start with the climbs in South Wales on one trip and then return to Wales to tackle the climbs in the North. Some of the Welsh climbs are pretty fearsome combining steep gradients with some pretty lengthy sections of road. Suffice to say I’ll be doing some fairly serious training rides during August in an attempt to prepare. I’ll probably still end up wheezing my way to the top of every Welsh climb in bottom gear at one mile an hour but at least I’ll be well prepared!

One thing you need when taking on the 100 climbs is a lot of maps. Just as well I like looking at them.

As well as spending a lot of time grinding my way up the steepest hills North Devon can offer for training I’ve got a new bike to build. It was my intention to use my old Bianchi road bike as a lightweight hill climbing machine. Unfortunately the build has been problematic and I’ve ended up with a bike I’m not overly happy with. Using my Surly Cross Check for the first 20 climbs has taught me a lot about the sort of bike I’m happy with in the hills and I’ve made the decision to strip the Bianchi down and use most of the components on it to build up something completely different based on a frame and fork I picked up cheap off the interweb. More details will be released soon but I think I’ve made the right call. The Cross Check will be kept as a spare bike. In fact it is three years since I first built it up and the poor thing is looking and feeling rather tired. At some point in the next few weeks I’m going to give it a complete overhaul and maybe even finally get around to cutting down the steerer tube to an aesthetically pleasing length.

I need to get some new kit sorted out over the summer as well. One of the most important things I need to sort out is a replacement for Ass Cam which sadly died only a few rides into the 100 climbs. Having a rearward facing camera is really good for showing the gradient on the climbs and also makes my slow moving videos slightly more interesting. I’ve found a camera I think will do the job but I’ll need to spend some time testing it and getting the mounting on the bike right. Perhaps unsurprisingly camera makers don’t make seat post mounts and some improvisation will be required.

Anyway, after a productive weekend getting in some useful training rides I’m off to undo all the good work with a couple of beers…

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