On Wednesday, the superhuman athletes in this year’s Tour de France will tackle the infamous ‘Circle of Death‘ climbing a total of 7000 metres in one hard day. With this is mind, Strava & Rapha have challenged people to attempt to climb this altitude. However, as mere mortals we have been granted a week, this being the length of time the Tour passes through the Pyrenees.
Our new home is situated at the foot of the Mendip Hills which are designated as an area of outstanding national beauty, and are also an area of outstanding bike-suffering opportunities. This morning the challenge began, and I had arranged to meet Andy for a ride. I was ready a little early, so decided to ‘warm up’ with a climb up onto the Mendips. Within a minute I was warm and within two I was suffering. At an 11% average gradient for 1.5km this particular hill had been a poor choice of hill to get started on. Looking down I took inspiration by my new customised stem cap, ordered after a recommendation by the ‘all seasons cyclist‘.
With Andy we went for a 80km ride that included a total of 1500 metres of climbing. We took on Burrington Coombe, Cheddar Gorge and Old Bristol Hill. In total I climbed the Mendip Hills five times.
We rode together up Burrington Coombe but Andy completely left me for dead on Cheddar Gorge. He overtook me like I was standing still and disappeared into the distance. My heart rate was hitting 185bpm but I didn’t see him again until the top. On getting back home I saw that I had set a personal best up this climb which made his electrifying pace even more terrifying. I did manage to beat him up Old Bristol Hill, however this was purely down to the fact that his gear cable snapped and he was forced to ride up the last kilometre at a 15% gradient single-speed!
Coincidentally I received a parcel in the post this week. It was the commemorative water bottle for completing the last Strava climbing challenge. It looks good on the bike.