Back in 2010, one man rode up and down Britain documenting the finest ascents that our fair Isles have to offer. The pocket sized 100 Climbs, written by Simon Warren, was chocked full of stats, amazing imagery, and profile maps. It was the first to catalogue Britain's big bumps.
Since then Simon has gone on to add more books to his pocket size series, providing more ways to induce vertical pain on two wheels. We fired off a few questions to find out what makes this hill hunter tick.
What bikes do you ride?
I have four in constant use. My 'best bike', a carbon Time NX with a Record group set for racing and weekends only. My winter bike, a Condor Italia, with custom paint job, mudguards, which is SO comfortable. My commuter, which is another Condor, a battered old frame covered in stickers, converted to fixed wheel and fitted with brackets for the child seats. Then there is my favourite bike, my custom built in Tokyo, Japanese steel, Level track bike, which is simply perfect.
What is it about British climbs that you decided is worth documenting?
I wanted to let everyone in Britain know there are hundreds of great hills, many on your doorstep, just waiting to be climbed — many with secret sounding names, such as The Rake or The Wall. I wanted to collate all their locations in a 'little black book' of British climbs, and eventually I did.
What is your ascent nemesis?
Although there are harder climbs, one road I hate, really hate, is Chapel Fell in County Durham, climb 62 in 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs. Twice I've ridden it and twice I've wished I was anywhere else, as I was battered by a combination of the stiff gradient and a pounding headwind.
What is the first thing you do when you reach the summit of a climb?
Slump over my bars because I've tried to ride it as fast as I could to log a time on Strava, then I go and find the next hill to climb.
If there was no object of time or money, what hill would you climb and with whom (alive or dead)?
I'm lucky enough to have ticked off most the climbs on my bucket list, and I cannot talk to my heroes as I always make an ass of myself. I'd like to go for a ride with my 1989 self and try and drop him up Alpe d'Huez.
Ride in the rain or into a headwind?
Headwind every time. Get low and power through it, mostly because I hate cleaning my bike after a wet ride.
It is hill climb season, what are your first timer tips?
Pace your effort according to the hill, it's no use going full gas from the start if you can only hold full gas for 500 meters and it's a 2 km climb! This means doing your research before the event. Oh, and take your water bottles off!
I haven't one favourite race but two, the Catford CC Hill climb and the Bec CC hill climb, both held on the same Sunday in October. The Catford CC event is run on Yorks Hill in the morning and the Bec CC event on White Lane in the afternoon, a double header of pure pain.