Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Road To Hell

It has taken me a bit of a while to get around to editing the footage for the Welsh climbs I completed in July. I've been busy with work and stuff at home but one of the main reasons for the delay is that I just needed a break from the 100 climbs stuff after getting back from Wales. I took on the remaining three Welsh climbs at the start of heat wave which really left me suffering and in truth I haven't been in a hurry to edit the footage.

Still, I've started the editing process now and the stuff I filmed doesn't look too bad so maybe I should look back on my time in Wales a bit more favourably. On the 11th July I drove up to Denbigh to ride the worryingly named Road to Hell. I originally intended to take on this climb a month or so earlier but a pulled calf muscle that left me struggling on the Horseshoe Pass meant that I felt it was more sensible to wait until I was back in decent shape before finishing off the Welsh climbs. Driving up to Denbigh seemed to take forever in the increasingly hot weather and after about 5 1/2 hours in a sweltering car I rolled into the car park at the nature reserve at the top of the climb.


This is a long climb and the descent was a decent ride in itself. In the 100 climbs book Simon Warren mentions that halfway up the climb there is a longish and fast descent. This of course translated into a short sharp little climb half way down to the start so I was able to get a warm up before starting my climb back up to the top. Not that I needed a warm up. Even though I didn't get to the climb until early evening the heat of the day hadn't abated. Working up a sweat on a descent was a first for me.

The first part of the climb is a pleasant enough meander along the lanes out of Denbigh and it isn't until you reach a couple of hairpin bends that the climb proper begins. The first mile or so of the following section is gentle enough with the gradient only ramping up slightly. After a significant period of gently climbing narrow lanes however the real challenge of the climb rears up in front of you; a long 17% gradient section that starts with some vicious bends. I was already feeling rubbish before I reached this point in the climb and it ended up being a painful slow speed crawl to the top of this section of the climb. A long drive in the car followed by a hot and long uphill bike ride are a less than ideal combination and it was a relief to have a nice downhill to coast down after suffering on the toughest part of the climb. It helped me to cool off a little.

It may be called the Road to Hell but the nature reserve at the top is very pretty
After negotiating the toughest part of the climb I had to try and keep my momentum up on the undulating upper slopes. The gradient isn't severe but I was fading badly in the heat and managed to get through all of the water I had by the time the more open uphill sweep of road to the summit finally appeared. The last couple of hundred metres was an excruciatingly slow crawl to the top and I was extremely glad to finally roll back into the car park. It was a sign that I would be able to very shortly drive along at high speed with all of the windows open as I drove to my overnight stop. The following day I had the joy of taking on Ffordd Penllech and Bwlch-y-Groes and cooling down before taking on those two climbs was going to be crucial...

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