Toys Hill the wrong way and other hills…


Over the last week or so I’ve kept the mileage and the legs ticking over, so I’ve got a few rides to report. I’ve generally felt like having a crack at some hills – specifically some larger and harder hills. To be clear I haven’t been looking to break any speed records, I’ve just wanted to ride up some longer, steeper and harder hills as part of continuing to improve my riding for more upcoming hilly sportives. 

I guess I also consider hills to be interval training of sorts. The ones around here are generally reasonably short and reasonably steep – so big effort for short periods, which I’m hoping will be helping improve my leg strength and I really need to improve my leg strength – it’s my biggest riding weakness.

This is the first ride and the hilliest: 

I started as I meant to continue by riding out of Tunbridge Wells via Hawkenbury then via Bells Yew Green up into Frant – it always gets the heart pumping and the legs burning a bit. From there you basically coast down to Groombridge and I rode up the Nouvelle col de Groombridge as it has a lot less traffic. It starts steep then flattens out quite a lot and kicks up steeply again at the end. From there I rode through Chiddingstone Hoath and through to and up Bayleys Hill. I like Bayleys it’s definitely not easy and it’s generally very free of traffic and you get lovely views back across Kent as you huff and puff your way up it. At the top I turned left and rode across to Ide Hill and down to Sundridge. When I turned left out of Rycroft Lane on the top of Bayleys Hill, three old chaps (older than me) were flying down the descent and all flew past me. It was fun to chase after them and overtake them on the next climb towards Ide – but to be fair they were on Audax bikes that looked heavier than my battle weary Allez – I think two of the three even had panniers. In the way of true cyclists they tried to keep in front of me but were very gracious as I passed them. 

After Sundridge I climbed back up Chart Lane through Brasted Chart and onto and over Toys Hill. I know this is officially the wrong way as you’re supposed to ride Toys from South to North as it’s a lot harder but I’ll have to work out another route to do that – as Bayleys was my first target. 

After descending Toys I headed to Hever and climbed up towards Mark Beech, Back round and up through Blackham and dropping back down and over near to Withyam. After that I simply followed my nose home to Tunbridge Wells and felt that I’d had a good day in the saddle – not pushing the pace too hard but climbing ok.

My next ride was with Malcolm and was intended to be not too challenging in that it would have less big climbs than the last one. Sadly it turned out to be one of those days were my legs didn’t want to know. Malcolm was out on his De Rosa and was riding well and it was all I could do to stay on his wheel. This then took a turn for the worse on what was already a cold morning. As we got to the top of the Ashdown Forest, the heavens opened and it chucked it down. We were quickly soaked and to be honest my enthusiasm was starting to wane. 

We rode through Nutley and across to Chelwood Gate and the weather stayed pretty poor. We then turned and headed towards Wych Cross and I decided to head home. I said goodbye to Malcolm who rode on valiantly into the grey and wet conditions whilst I rode home as quickly as my tired legs would take me. It was still 60kms in the end so an ok distance. In the afternoon that followed the rain clouds disappeared the sun came out and it hit 16 degrees – double the temperature of the morning. Oh well. 

The last ride to catch you up was on Monday morning with Warren. I hadn’t ridden with Warren for ages – and he brought out his shiny new Colnago C59 complete with his Lightweights. It made my old Specialized Allez look truly sad as they sat side by side before we set off. 

We met at Chiddingstone on a chilly and breezy morning. We started by riding to Bough Beech and then onto Hever and onto Mark Beech, and we seemed to be climbing ok. I was using the Strava iPhone app and couldn’t seem to get it to tell me anything useful on speeds or distances whilst we were riding. So it felt ok – reasonably brisk but not outstanding – a good solid pace. 

We rode onto Penhurst and up Penshurst Hill towards Leigh where Warren very decently dropped his chain to give me a rest mid climb. In fairness we were both riding pretty well and covering the group fairly comfortably. From Leigh we looped round via Hildenborough (rail station side) and via Charcott and back to Chiddingstone. After a bit of a chat about bikes – Warren had been kind enough to give me a ride on his C59 – which was very fast indeed. So we talked about that and about getting some of my NeilPryde’s out once they’re back from the press. That’s something to look forward to. 
I need to be back at home so we said our goodbyes and I got going. I’d gotten cold while we chatted and it took a few kms to warm up – but I was well warmed up by the time I rode up the hill into Fordcombe in what Strava tells me is an easily personal best time. This is nice – but it’s also one of the best things about Strava. The ranking system on segments that I mentioned in my review (http://girodilento.com/stravacom-a-fantastic-tool-but-beware-it-can). 

So I’ve had a few good rides. My legs feel a bit sore today after yesterday but not in a bad way. The Strava iPhone app did a good job in the end – but my days of riding with an iPhone may be numbered – I think I might need to trade up to a Garmin soon for the weather proofing and the accuracy, not to mention the battery life – time will tell. Hopefully the Strava widget has embedded my rides in this blog post too. More to come of course.

Thanks for reading.