Thanks to being too busy towards the end of last week and over the weekend I have still to edit the video together for Weston Hill. It’s on the way but in the meantime I thought I would give a slightly more detailed write up.
I managed to tack Weston Hill onto a business trip. I had a bit of spare time before a meeting to take on the climb and so it seemed like an ideal opportunity. The climb isn’t rated as one of the worst but does ramp up to a 20% gradient toward the end.
I managed to get parked in a lay by near the top of the hill and was greeted by an audience of suspicious dog walkers who were clearly not used to men stopping their car and emerging clad in lycra. Or then maybe they are, I wasn’t going to ask.
I've checked and I failed to take any nice photos of Weston Hill so here is a shot of the layby where I parked. Got some funny looks for taking this photo from the local dog walkers.
After sticking the bike together I rolled off down the hill only having to return two minutes later as I realised I had left my gloves in the car. I think I was so pleased to be tackling my 25th climb that I forgot to focus on the task at hand. In fact I know I did. After I slithered down the cold wet descent and trying a half hearted warm up on the residential roads at the bottom I took off up the hill in a fairly half hearted way. I really didn’t have my head on straight and managed to forget every bit of my meagre climbing technique. What I needed to be doing was starting the hill at a decent pace and getting ready to get out of the saddle for the final couple of hundred metres and attack the final steep section of hill flat out. Instead what I managed to do was start feeling cold and slowly spin my way to the top. It wasn’t my finest performance on a bike and after a lot of heavy traffic(who were no doubt really impressed by the fat bloke wobbling up the hill at 2 mph) I was glad to get back to the car. Still, Weston Hill does mark the quarter way point in my attempt on the 100 greatest climbs. I just need to make sure I have my mind firmly on the job for the remaining 75 as this was the first climb where I’ve lost focus and the impact was noticeable.
After a flask of soup and the now familiar ritual of getting changed in a motorway services toilet (there is never enough elbow room) I went onto my meeting where I am pleased to say I was a bit more with it.
Jiggers Bank - Not entirely what I was expecting
This was meant to be another ride tacked onto the end of a meeting. A rare meeting fairly early in the day in West Bromwich meant I would have time to make a detour on the way home to Ironbride and take on the rather jauntily named Jiggers Bank. The traffic reports on the radio on the way up suggested that Jiggers Bank had been blocked, either by a broken down vehicle or an accident. As these reports were really early in the morning and I wasn’t set to get to Ironbridge until early afternoon I wasn’t too concerned.
I was looking forward to riding Jiggers Bank, the length and gradient both suit my riding style well and I was hoping to be a bit more focussed ans aggressive on the climb than I had been on Weston Hill. With that in mind I’ll leave it to your imagination as to the amount of swearing that took place when I arrived in Ironbridge to find that Jiggers Bank was not blocked. Oh no, it was shut, to all traffic, for two weeks, for essential road works.
Today Jiggers Bank ended here so I turned left and went up a different route. Peeved looking workmen stopping any traffic from going uphill are just out of shot.
Once the anger had died down I felt pretty gutted. The weather was perfect, the roads were quiet (but then they were shut) and I was really up for the ride. In the end I decided to ride as far as I could up Jiggers Bank and then take a detour that Simon Warren refers to in the little black book of pain. It takes you along Derby Road up to the top of the ridge. It was steep and very narrow in places but as I’d driven all that way I was determined to get my bike out of the car. It would have been far more satisfying to take on the road I was intending to ride but I guess that will have to wait until next year. Until that point arrives my detour up Derby Road will have to count as ride twenty six. It was a damn site more steep than Jiggers Bank and took me to a bridge over the A road that Jiggers Bank would have led me to so I feel fairly justified in this. Don’t worry though, Derby Road is only a stand in 26th hill climb until the real thing can be ticked off the list next year.
Where Jiggers Bank starts to climb away from the traffic lights I had to turn left up Darby Road. It was steeper, a similar length and gained roughly the same amount of height (click to enlarge).
A really important lesson was learnt today and it is a simple one; always check the Highways Agency website when planning rides up steep hills. It is something I will be doing for every stretch of road from now on as a closed road can result in a wasted journey. Today’s ride was stuck on the end of a business trip so wasn’t a total waste of time but it so easily could have been if I had travelled such a long distance just to take on a hill.
Ah well, you live and learn. Videos for Weston Hill (finally) and Jiggers Bank/ my own little detour will follow on soon.