“Do you know what ‘nemesis’ means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case by an ‘orrible hill...” Never before have I let a climb get under my skin like this one, NEVER. For a period of 10 days last September it utterly consumed my every waking, and plenty of my sleeping hours.
Over the years I’ve had many a nemesis, Hardknott Pass beat me the first time but I went back the next day and took my revenge - as I did on Rosedale Chimney after snapping a chain at the first attempt.
The mighty Angliru in Spain beat me the first time and I had to wait four long years to exact my retribution on its evil slopes and be able to still claim that no hill had ever beaten me. Even Abdon Burf, until recently Britain's steepest hill, couldn’t beat me.
Then Bamford Clough arrived. This horrible, vile, near vertical tarmac ramp appeared out of the blue, almost overnight to lay claim as Britain’s steepest climb and to torment me like no road had managed before.
What had been just a rock strewn track for generations, popular with mountain bikers, off road motorcyclists and walkers was rumoured to be having a facelift. Ben Lowe, the brains behind Veloviewer, was the first to alert me to this but I didn’t really pay it much attention until my social media channels became flooded with pictures of the 35% gradient sign at the top.
Already notorious for being stupidly steep and having played host to mountain bike races in the past it had now been given a glorious layer of tarmac to open it up to road bikes. This I had to see.
Usually when a new climb pops up on my radar it involves a day’s drive to somewhere remote to go check it out but this one, this was right on my doorstep. I fitted the compact chainset on my best bike so I had a 34 up front and 29 at the back and set out with Ben on a very dry day to see if it would live up to the rapidly growing hype.
We choose not to ride down it to the bottom, nether of us had the protective gear for such a foolhardy activity so took the long route round into Bamford to start from the village centre.
You can read the full article on Bamford Clough in the November 25 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine, on sale in store and online. You can also subscribe to the magazine, get it delivered to your door and be inspired to ride through the winter. Sign up now to take advantage of our biggest ever subs discount.
Simon has been riding for over 30 years and has a long connection with Cycling Weekly, he was once a designer on the magazine and has been a regular contributor for many years. Arguably, though, he is best known as the author of Cycling Climbs series of books. Staring with 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs in 2010, Simon has set out to chronicle and, of course, ride the toughest cycling climbs across the UK and Europe. Since that first book, he's added 11 more, as well Ride Britain which showcases 40 inspirational road cycling routes. Based in Sheffield, Yorkshire, Simon continues to keep riding his bike uphill and guides rides, hosts events and gives talks on climbing hills on bikes!
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