bottom strip
Off the saddle from Thixendale

Trial of Heart of the Wolds Hill Challenge

Posted on 13th December

Different people want different things from a cycle sportive, but most people like to be physically challenged in some way and to some degree. As organisers, we appreciate that for many riders, this challenge will be just covering the distance itself, while others may need a little extra. So for this year's Sportive, Adam and I have decided to throw in a couple of leg busting challenge efforts on three of the climbs on the Classic and Challenge routes. While all cyclists riding these routes will have to grind their way up the slopes, for those wanting to push themselves we have mapped out the starting and end points for the Strava sections of these hills. For those of you unfamiliar with Strava, as I was, it is a GPS enabled online programme which allows riders to time themselves over certain segments of rides and then compare their efforts with fellow riders.

Riders with the energy and will power will thus be able to see how fast they can blast up the hill and then when they reach the finish point, we'll have some Strava standards they can compare themselves with. In the interests of not asking anyone to do something unreasonable, or which I wasn't prepared to do myself, I recently decided to try out the routes myself and compare times. As you'll be able to see, the results were hardly flattering, but it was an interesting exercise.

Firstly, a confession - I don't use Strava and don't have a suitable Garmin or other GPS enabled device from which to base my efforts. But I was fairly exact in plotting on the map where the start and finish points of each run were so I am fairly confident that I was able to start and stop my stopwatch at the correct points.

Final push to the top

1) Birdsall Bow to top Thickendale Junction (Out of Birdsall Classic/Challenge Routes)

This stiff climb follows very shortly after the first feed stop on the Classic and Challenge routes and sees riders ascend from the attractive picket fences of Birdsall up to the top of the hill which overlooks it and from which there are some spectacular views. In terms of stats, it's a 1km climb to the junction, with a 7.6% average gradient. Like many Wolds climbs its undulations vary, with a stiff starting section which levels off somewhat in the middle before another 100 metre steep incline to the wooded junction.
The top ten Strava riders averaged 3 mins 17sec while I managed it in 5min 32sec with a 158 bpm average heart rate. Even though it was a wet and generally miserable December day with a brisk wind largely into my face, I was somewhat surprised to be over 2 minutes down on the time. Though to my relief, looking through the other results, there's quite a few people who can match my efforts and I would have ranked around 329 of the 568 people ridden it.

Adam at bottom of this climb on a sunnier day

2) Painsthorpe Lane Climb (Out of Thixendale on Classic/Challenge Routes)

This climb out of Thixendale past the Robert Fuller Gallery will be familiar to many local riders as it is on many weekend routes as well as some of the area's popular sportives such as the Big G. It extends 1.6km and has an average gradient of 5.9%, less than the previous climb, but I suspect this is because both the first 100 metres and last 200 metres are relatively flat which means that the middle section is tough.
The wind was particularly stiff into my face along here and my efforts weren't helped by the rugged nature of the asphalt.
Not withstanding these adverse factors I was still well down on the top ten average of 4min 49 secs, my stop watch stopping at 7 min 38 secs and my heart averaging 158bpm. Again I was surprised - I've never even come close to considering myself even a decent amateur rider, but I'm fairly fit and was straining every sinew up these short climbs, but still was short by nearly 3 mins. What sort of mortals are these who can pump out so much power and speed?

Levelling out at top of climb

3) A614 Climb (Out of Warter on Challenge Route)

This 1.5km climb is only on our Challenge route and comes shortly after Huggate and where the Classic and Challenge courses diverge. Riders come over the top from Huggate before speeding down onto the main Pocklington-Driffield road. Crossing here takes you out of Warter and its attractive pond and onto our third hill challenge. With an average gradient of 5.2%, it's not as severe as the previous two but it does feel longer. This more modest incline is reflected in the Strava ratings with the top ten blasting up there in under four minutes (3min 56 secs average). I was again well down on the pace, again with nearly two minutes difference at 5min 57 secs. Heart rate of 156bpm - this probably because I had done this climb first due to its proximity to my house.

Filthy December conditions

Final Reflections

If the technology works and the riders posting the fastest times have maintained their integrity with uploading accurate data, then I can only conclude that we have some very strong riders in the area. Admittedly the wind always did seem to be blowing into my face, especially on the first two climbs, plus conditions, as you will see from the photos weren't conducive to speed, but even so I was surprised at the difference in times and I can only conclude that most riders on our sportive will struggle to get anywhere near these top ten averages, especially after the previous miles' riding in their legs. I suspect that we will have to set certain other parameters for the times, and will no doubt have a better idea of standards when my fellow organiser, Adam Hardy, what I would call a 'real' cyclist, has a crack at the routes.

But I think some of our riders will enjoy the challenge of these three climbs and I look forward to seeing their results.



black line


For more information about this event contact info@woldssportive.co.uk or call 01482 841007

BC membership banner