Everything you Need to Know About Competitive Hill Climbing
Putting together a ‘top ten’ of anything is never easy, there are so many factors to consider and everyone rates different factors in order of importance. So when we decided to write a ‘top ten climbs‘ article, we started to wonder just how we would go about defining them – our ten favourite, the steepest, the longest, the ones with the best views, where do you start?!
So for the moment we’ve come up with a list that is based on fact as much as possible and does what it says on the tin – a list of the 15 steepest climbs on the Chilterns Cycleway based on the Ordnance Survey gradient arrows. There are many more climbs and steeper climbs in the Chilterns, but this is where we’ve decided to start. More articles will follow, until we’ve covered every major hill in Chilterns, and then we might pick our top ten.
Dunsmore (west) – 1.44 miles, ascent 258ft, max. elevation 830ft
Well known by local cyclists and somewhat of a Chilterns classic, when approached from the west this is the only double-arrow climb on the Cycleway (1 in 5 or greater), made all the harder with a single arrow climb before you even get to that. The highest point comes on the corner before losing all your hard earned elevation with the vicious bit right at the end, just how we like it.
Dunsmore (east) – 0.5 miles, ascent 192ft, max. elevation 748ft
From the east it’s just a single arrow but that’s no consolation as it ramps up from the houses and maintains a stiff gradient all the way to the cross roads at the top. A few reps from the A413 over the top to Chequers and back will soon have the legs screaming.
Colstrope – 1 mile, ascent 347ft, max. elevation 520ft
One of many steep climbs on the eastern slopes of the Hambleden Valley and very similar to its Old Luxter’s twin on the opposite side of the valley. The gradual climb starts just after you leave the road with a short kick just afterwards, but the sting in the tail comes nearer the top. Lots of tree cover so it’s head down and keep pedalling until you reach the phone box.
Kop Hill – 0.7 miles, ascent 324ft, max. elevation 805ft
At just over 1km and 100m of ascent in new money this is very much a just grin and bear it climb. Remember to save a little something though as the steepest section comes right at the top. The sign says 10% but that’s obviously an average gradient over the full length, it’s much more than that in parts. This was also a King of the Mountains stage in the 2014 Friends Life Tour of Britain.
Luxters, Dudley Lane – 0.63 miles, ascent 311ft, max. elevation 536ft
The Hambleden Valley is steep on both sides, once you’re in it there’s no easy way out. It’s a fairly constant steep gradient from the valley road but at least the Chiltern Valley Vineyard greets you at the top. It’s an open climb but don’t be fooled into thinking you can see the top! After the winery Dudley Lane continues to climb at a steadier rate, topping out at just over 600ft.
Radnage Lane – 0.96 miles, ascent 290ft, max. elevation 740ft
Just one way to climb out of Radnage up to Bledlow Ridge – the clue is in the name on that one. A little blip to get over, then it ramps up, and just as you think it can’t get any worse, you turn the corner and it ramps up again to reach the top of the narrow Bledlow Ridge.
Lower Assendon – 0.54 miles, ascent 258ft, max. elevation 426ft
The flat run out on the Fair Mile from Henley-on-Thames comes to an abrupt end when you take a right off the B480 and start this climb. The lower section is a good warm up for the surprise around the corner. By the time you reach here you’re almost on top of the ridge that then meanders along quiet lanes for many more miles.
The Hale – 0.74 miles, ascent 254ft, max. elevation 775ft
Possibly one of the sneakiest climbs we’ve come across and definitely caught us off guard when we stumbled upon it one day. The long drag out of Wendover gradually starts to go up and up and up and then, just when you think it can’t get any worse, you turn the corner at the top and are faced with the steepest section of all. Sneaky!