Ever since I was a kid riding a bike up a hill has been something that has had a strange attraction. As a very small boy it was Pontac Road in New Marske, hardly a hill at all, then as I got older I ventured over to nearby Yearby Bank to test myself and my Raleigh Grifter against its 1 in 10 slopes – this was before we started using fancy percentages. When I got my first racer at the age of about 13 – a BSA Tour de France with 10 speed friction gears, Weinmann centre pull brakes, a gas pipe frame and a saddle that would cut you in two – I rode over to Osthmotherley where some of my relatives live taking in the seemingly impregnable Scarth Nick. I made it, just!
So when I actually got a ‘proper bike’ I headed for the hills, and I still do, most of the time. As the lungs get smaller and the legs weaker I’ve had to resort to smaller gears and lighter bikes but I’m still quite happy with my climbing, as you get older you adapt. The area I have restricted myself to is that within Teesside, the North York Moors National Park and the area linking both these areas to the coast. The North York Moors and the coastal region of the area are littered with climbs of great character, not to mention gradient, and all the key ones are on the site I think. I’ve ridden a bike over some pretty challenging hilly terrain, including the Alps, the Lake District, the Dales and the Pennines and the North York Moors rivals them all, especially for gradient. Which climb is the hardest? I’ll let you make your own mind up and I keep changing mine, but I’d say it’s between Rosedale Chimney, Caper Hill and Blakey Bank with Boltby Bank snapping at their heels.
For each climb we tell you where to find it and provide a GPS map – be warned though I’m not convinced that the percentages they state are totally accurate, some seem to rate higher, others lower, but they give a guide. We also tell you how long and how steep it is and give our opinions on how hard it is. Finally we comment on its character, take a photo or two and Dave Kirton persuaded me to add in a comment on what it’s like to descend and, against my better judgement, a Sheep Rating – he tells me that he has an expert eye when it comes to reckoning up these enigmatic beasts. When I say we, I have dragged several of my Cleveland Wheelers club mates on quite a lot of these rides, notable mentions go to Dave Kirton, John Kelly, Steve Ward, Mick Rennison, John Price and Ian Jones in particular, but a big thanks to all who have been dragged out and asked to provide a rating. A special thanks to John Kelly for all the hours of slog getting these on the site. Finally we have provided a tick list adding Tour de France like categories for a bit of fun and at some point there will be other things added, such as suggested epic routes to experience several of the climbs in one go.
I’ll also be updating some of the climbs particularly those that I did at the start of the project and there is one great last climb to go on near Old Byland suggested by club member Paul Howe, I just haven’t ridden it yet! But in the meantime fit the compact chainset and the dinner plate cassette and head for the hills!
For each climb those who attempted it were asked to give it a rating using the guide below. We road the climbs at a decent effort without racing up them – not that it was an option on some of them, getting to the top might be all that could be managed.
- Where’s the slope?
- No problem
- Big ring
- Spinning a gear
- It’s a difficult one (a homage to Sean Kelly)
- Light up all the boilers!
- Handlebar snapper
- Licking the front wheel
- Dinner plate required
- Fetch a nurse!