I’ve never been one for racing, although in a funny sort of way I seem to be living my cycling life in reverse. I started off pottering about the Yorkshire Wolds with the Cyclists’ Touring Club at the age of twelve but now – four decades older, and perhaps as many stones heavier – find myself riding my carbon road bike on a wheelset with precisely half the spoke count of my touring bike from the 1980s.
Thankfully, my road bike has a relatively forgiving 30T largest sprocket on the cassette. In the 80s, however, I spent the not inconsiderable sum of £375 on a Raleigh Road Ace from Cliff Pratt’s in Hull. What was I thinking? The bike came with the then standard 52/42 chainset and at the back was a six-speed 13 to 21 cassette. It was a blip, perhaps even an expensive fad; the 52 chainring is still in virtually pristine condition. I bring up all of this cycling nostalgia as the no-compromise gearing and de rigueur stainless steel toe clips and tightly fastened Sturmey Archer toe straps combined to bring about my only defeat so far on a Yorkshire Wolds hill climb: Trundlegate.
Rising gently out of South Newbald Trundlegate doesn’t on the face of it appear to be much of a challenge. But then there is the right-hand bend and a slight ramping of the gradient that always seems to sap me of energy and any remaining momentum. It doesn’t help that I’m almost always going up Trundlegate towards the end of a longish ride. But even when I’m relatively fresh I’ve never gone quicker than 6:17 on this mile or so 5% climb since getting my Garmin 200 a few years ago. Yes, I really should know better than to look at the stats on Strava (FYI I’m currently 1043/3576 – not that it’s a competition or anything), but the KoM has posted a time at around half of my own.
I don’t know how fast (or slow) I was going up Trundlegate that time on my Raleigh Road Ace before the ride was punctuated by my disastrous fall – in those days Strava existed only as a way some of us locals would pronounce the word ‘striver’ – I certainly didn’t have time to reach down and unbuckle a strap before keeling over in slow motion on to the roadside verge. (I would later fit a whopping 24T on the Uniglide cassette freehub.)
When it was announced that Simon Warren was to release a Yorkshire edition in his Greatest Climbs series I wondered whether Trundlegate would make the relatively tame grade. It didn’t – that modest 1/10 rating was taken by Brantingham Dale – but it remains a testing little hill all the same.
Perhaps I shall rage against the dying of the light and try to go under six minutes – maybe even scaling the giddy heights of the top 1000 league table – one day before it is too late. But I doubt it will be on a 42T chainring.
The category ‘ Cycling Climbs ‘ is prompted by the excellent article ‘Hill Climbs on the Yorkshire Wolds’ written by Roger England and first published in the Winter 2010/2011 edition of the ‘Woldsman’ magazine. Five of the climbs that will be detailed are also contained in Simon Warren’s ‘Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire: A Road Cyclist’s Guide‘, which is highly recommended.