bikebritain News November 28, 2011

bikebritain's 'Hanover Hill Horror'

In a recent bikebritain article (  I discussed how I didn't get along with the idea of using a turbo trainer during the Winter months. That said, riding around in the dark months can be a challenge, especially if you restrict yourself to the relative safety of street lit, urban areas. A challenge insofar as after a while you've probably covered most of the better known routes - which is where we find ourselves now.  

Brighton is a seaside town, and conveniently situated on a series of hills, so there's a decent amount of challenges on our evening doorstep. Last Winter we devised bikebritain's Brighton Blowout (see which saw us ascend 1000 meters over a series of said hills. Last week Swazy had a brain wave; what about doing 'Southover Street'? Hence the 'Hanover Hill Horror' was born!

Firstly, some orientation. Hanover is a predominately student area location between Lewes Road, Queens Park Road and Elm Grove. It's not an affluent part of town but it's safe enough, with plenty of pubs and the occasional late night eating establishments adorning street corners. Hanover is also situated on a hill. Quite a steep hill infact, thus making it perfect climbing territory. 

It transpires that there's actually a race (from what I can gather, held in September) up Southover Street, one of the roads that joins Lewes Road to Queens Park Road. It's steep at the bottom, 'levels out' in the loosest sense of the word in the middle and goes all steep again at the end. After some late night google map investigations I devised a potential agreed a route with myself and shared the output with Swazy who was characteristically easy going. "Yeah whatever, don't mind really," he said. Route agreed then.

We would ascend 6 hills, beginning at Elm Grove and working our way to towards the coast. We would also try to avoid riding the same road twice, a pet hate of mine. That was our plan. Oh yes, and I would complete this on the Day One, so a good test of me, the new bike and the Alphine hub. (I won't dwell on the bike for this article, simply to say the difference is noticeable, compared to my Specialized. It will definitely make me fitter during the Winter.) 

We began with the Elm Grove climb, at 130 meters vertical, probably one of the longest (in terms distance travelled and height gained) Brighton can offer. I stuck with Swazy for the first half, but he gradually and inexorably pulled away on the second section. I caught back up with him towards the top where the road runs parallel with the racecourse. First hill completed, we headed back down to Lewes Road.

We worked our way up and down the various roads in a similar vein; I followed Frank to the top by a lesser or greater degree. The Alphine hub provided a slight challenge; it felt as if you had a choice of being either in first or third gear but missed the grace of second. As a consequence I chose to spin in the 'Granny' gear keeping the legs pinging round as best I could. The weight of the bike made a difference; usually there's not that much difference between us when we are climbing. That was not the case this evening.

Albion Hill is quite a steep road and we tackled that reasonably well, but Sussex Street, which runs parallel, although shorter, is even tougher. The start if this hill is quite daunting and the approach offers zero rolling speed. You simply need to grit your teeth and start plugging your way to the top. By the this time we had also managed to fit in a brief photo session of the Day One looking all tough with some seaside graffiti providing the backdrop. We had also ridden one additional hill for good measure, offsetting Islingword Road that turned out to be one way and downhill! 

After making ew more short video clips we completed the final ascent. We had taken in 7 hills and in doing so enjoyed some fine evening views of Brighton. We decided to spin along the seafront home, enjoying the respite suffered by flat ground and the wind behind us. Another satisfying evening ride. One day we'll manage a cycle in daylight! Until that happens we'll be found around the streets of Brighton, searching for the next challenge. 

Elevation Climbed - 520 meters, over approx 42km. Data from the iPhone cycling app Cyclemeter release 6.0.1

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