The toughest climbs near Chester, and the bikes to tackle them on
Living in Chester we're blessed to have some truly awesome road cycling climbs within easy reach of town - either by short car ride or even a cycle.
If you haven't come across a book called '100 Greatest Cycling Climbs', firstly, have you been living under a rock? Secondly, you'll want to grab yourself a copy! The book is a handy resource for finding good roads and routes to climb wherever you are in the UK. A fair few of the climbs featured lie just over the border from us in North Wales, but there's also the infamous Cat and Fiddle near Macclesfield.
We profiled a few of the most popular climbs, dropped in a few tips and suggested some bikes to try and tackle them on.
The Cat and Fiddle, Macclesfield
At 6.6 miles long, the Cat and Fiddle climb out of Macclesfield is a long old slog, averaging around 3% gradient. That means it's not too sharp of an ascent and you might even be better off with an aero TT bike. Especially if there's a headwind coming down the hill at you.
We'd suggest this Boardman Series Air Tt 9.2 as a good option for putting in the absolute best time up the Cat and Fiddle. It's specced for ultimate aero performance, including the obligatory aero bars and high-quality Ultegra drivetrain. At 8.06kg it's a little heavier than some pure climbers' bikes, but for the steadiness of the Cat and Fiddle we think the improved aero performance more than balances the added weight disadvantage.
Horseshoe Pass, near Langollen
The fearsome Horseshoe Pass has its place in British cycling history, as it has been the site of the National Hill Climb Championships on three different occasions. As you might expect from the name it features a horseshoe-shaped bend which exposes the rider to a lot of different head-, cross- and tailwinds - making for a tricky ride, whichever way the wind is blowing.
It ramps to 12% in places and averages 5%, so you're going to want a lightweight bike with a gear ratio setup that can tackle those nasty ramps. We reckon the Specialized S-Works Tarmac fits that bill - after all, if it's good enough for Vicenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador - two of the greatest climbers in the world - it must be alright, eh? The 36-tooth small chainring will ensure you have enough low gears to keep the pedals turning over, while the carbon frame and fork make no compromises on weight.
The Shelf, Moel Arthur and Penbarra, near Ruthin
The Shelf in Ruthin is one of a handful of the hundred greatest climbs that are clustered around Ruthin. Compared with neighbouring Moel Arthur and Penbarra it's a bit of a softie - averaging a steady 5.4% over five kilometres. It's still enough to sting the legs, mind, but it's nothing in the ferocious 11% gradients of the other two. If you;re feeling extra strong you could try all three in a day, and then ride back to Chester!
Another climbing bike we really love in our range at the moment is the Trek Domane Slr 6 with a compact chainset. With just 34 teeth the small chainring really is a granny gear, so even if you do attempt the unholy trinity above, you should still have enough to keep the bike rolling!
What do you think? Are there more climbs in and around Chester we should be including on our list?
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