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Birdlip Hill, Mental Block?


This evening I tried once again to ride a infamous hill in my area, Birdlip hill. My previous attempt was a disaster, I had only been cycling a couple of weeks and it was the first time I had ever wore cleats! You can imagine what happened! That was about a year ago now and tonight on a bit of a whim I thought I would have another go. It wasn't as bad as last time but I did fail to get up it again? To be honest I think I failed before I had even got on the bike, I was quite tired from yesterdays session, I have hayfever at present but still thought what the hell. I got half way up, and all the memories of not being able to get my feet out of cleats came flooding back, so I thought I would just pull my foot out and then clip back in just to reassure myself. As soon as my foot came out, it hit the pavement. I walked a bit feeling very disappointed with myself, and thought I would get back on, at this point I couldn't get going again as it was too steep, in fact I nearly got hit by a car because I nearly fell into the road trying to get going, lucky for me he was a careful driver and spotted me in plenty of time.

I'm pretty determined to concur this hill as I believe it will be great training for next years Wimbleball 70.3 which apparently has a 14% hill in it. I don't really know how that compares to Birdlip which has a sign saying it 1:6 at the top. I don't really understand how to compare the two?

The following link is to the motionbased route of Birdlip; http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/6088836. I've posted this so people can compare the hill to Wimbleball which is here; http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/invitation/dashboard.mb?episodePk.pkValue=2355404 and maybe let me know which they feel is tougher? Then I can work out whether I'm wasting my time trying to get up Birdlip if Wimbleball is not any where near as hard. In any case I would still like to get up that route.

I do cycle hills very regularly and actually consider myself a pretty good hill climber, not fast, but strong and steady. I regularly climb 1,000 foot hills and in fact have done Birdlip, albeit via a not as steep route, however you do hit the same peak.

So finally on to my questions!

Is this just a mental block considering I've been up bigger, however maybe not as steep?

How would others approach conquering this hill?

Is the Wimbleball hill as steep as Birdlip?

That should do it for now! Thanks for your time if your reading this!


  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    you are a braver man than me! I used to live near cheltenham, well i still kinda do, I wouldn't go down birdlip hill let alone up!

    I dont know what the wimbleball hill is like but I doubt it can compare to birdlip, my car struggles up there!
  • Free WillyFree Willy Posts: 63
    Hi Grant

    Very interested in your posting about Birdlip Hill, I am coming to the UK for IMUK and will be in Gloucester area for a week or two before it and had planned an assault on Birdlip, I located the following page http://www.geocities.com/sidestreetluge/grade.html and was confused by it!

    I then found a simple formula as follows

    1 in 5 = 5/1 = 0.2 = 20%

    1 in 6 = 6/1 = 0.1666 = 17%

    1 in 7 = 7/1 = 0.142857 = 14%

    which seems to me that Birdlip is steeper than Wimbleball (14%?) and definately worth conquering, if you want another go at the end of August let me know, I am not too good at hills as I live in Perth and there are not too many around here so the IMUK course is going to be a bit of a mission.

    These could be complete rubbish but maybe someone else here has better understanding of, all I know is that I hate hills and the wind is NOT my friend!



  • grant1974grant1974 Posts: 262
    Hey Free Willy,

    Thanks for the explanation of gradient, it's one of those things where I kind of get it, but not really!!

    So it would seem Birdlip is steeper than Wimbleball, I also think the 14% section of Wimbleball isn't that long either. This makes me think Birdlip is going to provide some excellent training.

    I would be very happy to go for a ride with you Free Willy, however if your saying you've not done too much training on hills I wouldn't be that cruel to take you up it, however there are various ways to the top which I can take you, less steep but hard all the same. Let me know when your in the country and we can see if we can hook. End of August is very busy for me, but I'm sure we can sort something out. In worse case scenario I can give you some good rides to do.

    So I guess the question still remains;

    How would others approach conquering this hill?

  • Free WillyFree Willy Posts: 63
    I look forward to the challenge of Birdlip, I have driven up it quite a few times and can remember my car complaining! I did IMNZ in March and was told that the course there was hilly but apart from one steepish climb (x2) of about 1k it did not appear too bad, I am fitting a new cassette (12-27) so I am hoping this will help a bit. I have located a couple of suitable long drawn out hills for hill training so every couple of weeks I spend an hour or 2 going up and down, up and down...

    I hope there is still a pub at the top as I may need plenty of refreshment after a long walk uphill!


  • LindsLinds Posts: 124
    Bloody hell Bridlip is a momster adn you are seriously brave.

    I have thought about trying to attack it (briefly, once, in passing) before coming to my senses (I'm still to crap on the bike). Is there a footpath up the hill then, as the thought of trying to cycle on the road with artics slowly chugging past sounds close to suicide.
  • grant1974grant1974 Posts: 262
    There is no footpath, I wouldn't attempt it unless you have good bike control, alternatively when traffic is quiet, early Sunday morning for example...
  • fatmattfatmatt Posts: 145
    I used to go out and look for the steepest hills round so that i could really improve my hill climbing, the biggest near me is around 15% about 1000m long, i used to go out and do 5 or so reps in the middle of a 50 mile ride, i improved but not a great deal. Then my neighbour, who is one of the top female cyclists in the country, told me not to bother, just get on the turbo and do some intense intervals, working down from 1 hr steady rides, then 20 min efforts, then 5 then 2 (different sessions) and without going near a hill. my next time out on the bike i flew up the hills. though on a nice day i'd rather be out in the countryside anytime.
  • grant1974grant1974 Posts: 262
    Hey Fatmatt,

    Thanks for the reply, that's really interesting, would you mind spelling out the turbo trainer session for me, I don't really understand your explanation. However I am very keen to do it!
  • Free WillyFree Willy Posts: 63
    I forgot to mention the indoor trainer sessions that I am also doing to try and improve my riding, I use the Spinerval DVDs and there are a couple on Hill Climbimg which are pretty intense generally about an hour long,, I am using the trainer a lot at the moment with it being winter here it is often the only way of getting a traiing ride in. Tomorrow looks like rain so I have a 3hour session on the trainer planned - oh what joy!

  • fatmattfatmatt Posts: 145

    i'd rather not put the sessions on a forum as the lady in question is making her living as a cycling coach and it's not fair to post up her sessions in full. if you want her email or website pm me and i'll send them. sorry i this seems rude but she has to make a living.

    good luck

  • grant1974grant1974 Posts: 262
    Perfectly understandable Fatmatt, however I would love her web address so I can maybe purchase some good turbo sessions...
  • legalbeaglelegalbeagle Posts: 208
    Hi there,

    your post caught my eye as I used to live in Gloucester and remember Birdlip Hill!!!

    I have has a similar problem on my cycle route home from work (now in Mid Wales) I fell off last year, into a ditch full of nettles and brambles and have had a mental block ever since. I always set off with a real positive attitude - telling myself that I CAN do it, then, just as i get to the really steep bit the panic sets in and off I get.

    I conquered it a few weeks ago, as I deceided I would cycle it with some friends - I was too embarrassed to get off so I had to keep going and it worked! I was in my most "granny" gear but who cares?

    Keep at it - you'll get there in the end - when you do it will feel FANTASTIC!!!

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