Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Thank you!

A quick note from the organisers -Adam and Steve- to say thank you for turning up. Twenty people all in, including Owen, a seven year old, whose participation was very impressive.

Montpelier was a good intro, Kingsdown fun, Cliftonwood as scenic as ever. The best bit: Bridge Valley Road being closed to cars, giving it a full Alpine-mountain ascent feel. Here we can see Adam enjoying the climb. At least we think he's enjoying it.

We have a proposal from one participant to organise the sequel, the Bastard Hills of South Bristol, which would take in windmill hill and finish in Totterdown, of course. That's going to be harder than this week's event.

There seems interest in doing a repeat, maybe this time we can do one around Christmas, as on a cool day it would be a great way to stay warm. There is also some enthusiasm for a kids version, which would probably just take in one of the sections: Cliftonwood or Kingsdown. Maybe we should do one in each location on separate weeks.


Saturday, 15 May 2010

Granby Hill: last descent

After climbing up most of Cliftonwood, the descent down Granby Hill will come as a relief.

For anyone planning to run this area, there are some really good on-foot options you can't explore by bike -do your research! The Polygon is an on-foot-only option, and there are various flights of steps to get you up or down things.

Speaking of steps, Granby Hill finishes going over the portway and then you can walk or cycle down the steps.
Then its out the A4 bike path, towards Bridge Valley Road.
That road should be more fun to ride up when its closed to cars. Quieter.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Ambrose Road, cliftonwood

Very pretty, the houses on the left probably get a good view of the harbour. The trees in the distance: Ashton Court.

The route plan is to descend here. tuck left and do Church Lane bottom to top.

Cliftonwood is a very quiet part of town, doesn't get much through traffic, and the signs "residents access only" encourage this. For walking: its great, there are even paths full of steps to make things more interesting. For cycling, it's hard work, but quiet and with great views. 

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Church Lane: Steep, quiet, scenic

Possibly the toughest climb in Cliftwood, certainly it's in the top 5;

Constitution Hill may have edge in length, Ambra Vale in steepness,
But as we plan to climb both of those too, you get to make your own mind up.
What this road does have is lovely views
And very pretty buildings. The heart of Cliftonwood -something the Lion pub may be to thank for.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Constitution Hill

Long and Steep.

Not the steepest in the ride, but long, so long.

When we discuss the planned ride, a lot people say "and constitution hill?". We reply: yes, but it's not the hardest. It's just better known than Marlborough Hill or Church lane.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

May 23: Three Weeks Away

Quick reminder it is three weeks until the big day, the now-infamous Bastard Hills of North Bristol event. This one, St Michael's Hill, is obviously part of it, but it is not as steep as some of the others. As the first person to complete the route in one go noted
Once I had traversed the true bastard that is Marlborough Hill (right) and sped down Horfield Road, climbing up St Michael’s Hill didn’t seem half the challenge that it normally is.

That said, the route plan will do it both up and down -the descent can be a bit tricky as you have to give way at the bottom. There is a draft route plan online, but note that this is provisional, and we may throw in some surprises. Certainly Nugent Hill provides more suffering than turning off at the first opportunity to get to Ninetree Hill offers -surely the second or third exit should be used instead. Similarly, around Park Street there a couple of detours which make things harder. We will see as the day goes on. One goal is to avoid killing everyone in Montpelier within ten minutes of setting off, so we will avoid the York Road descent followed by a Richmond Road ascent. As York Road is likely to be closed for roadworks, this is a wise choice.

Bridge Valley road may be open by May 23, but the shared use pavement/bike path is open today, so anyone who wants to train can check it out now.

Some of us plan to combine a bit of route rehearsal and obstacle checking by doing the entire route early one evening as a preamble to the main group event. If that kind of thing appeals, get on the Bristol Cycle Campaign Yahoo! group and its mailing list. Before that, get your bike working, check its brakes and gears are as expected, get climbing!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Bastard Hills of North Bristol: May 23

We were forced to cancel the original, January date for the first Bastard Hills of North Bristol ride on account of the snow ice.

Only the very brave were out and about on bicycles on that day.

The new date: Sunday May 23. 10:30 am, Picton Square/Thali Cafe in Montpelier. There should be no snow there.

Hopefully, just hills and sun.
Many hills.

It's over six weeks away, so start training. Now. If you are riding single speed, sort out an uphill gear option.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Cliftonwood Road

When the postponed ride takes place, the Cliftonwood section will probably include this uphill; with the hairpin it has a hint -just a hint- of an Alp

You get a nice view looking back -this is an interesting part of the city which, without any direct through roads, is very underexplored. Not for us though, we will cover many of the ups and downs in the area.

On bicycle, though, not on foot. If you were walking, you could follow World's End Lane...

This leads to White Hart Steps, which bring you down past a little park to Jacob's Wells Roundabout. Not for cycling, unless there was an MTB event. But walking, that would be good. It could be interesting after rain too: that cobbled area to the right looks designed to take runoff from storms.

Again, vaguely reminiscent of the Alps; those mountain villages with empty stream banks in their middle, streams that turn into torrents after only a day's rain.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Bastard Hills ride postponed: snow!

We, the organisers of the Bastard Hills of North Bristol ride, along with the Bristol Cycling Campaign, are sad to announce that the planned tour of many of North Bristol's steepest hills, from Montpelier to Clifton by way of Kingsdown, Cotham and Cliftonwood has had to be postponed from January 10 to a future date to be determined. Snow.

Lots of snow. Here is Cotham Vale, one of the shorter climbs. It has no tracks on it other than sledge, ski and snowboard.

It is possible to cycle round the city, you just need to go on the main roads and worry about the water freezing back to ice at night, water which can be just as lethal in the morning.

Our route wasn't just going to be on the main roads though, it was going to the steepest hills in the area, the obscure ones, and zig-zag up and down them, using quiet connecting routes wherever possible, routes like this one, which is nothing but compressed snow:

Get out there and enjoy an excellent winter, be it sledging or some mountain bike fun. If you are cycling around town, look out for ice, especially as you approach junctions or hills. Many of the classic favoured-by-bicycle routes haven't been gritted, and are pretty hazardous.

We will be rescheduling the ride to spring or summer. This lets everyone who overindulged over Christmas a chance to get slightly more in shape, which they can do by training: ride up as many of these hills as you can.

Keep an eye on the bristolbybike.blogspot.com web site; we will put up news about this ride and other cycling activities in the city. The future date will be published in a future edition of the Bristol Cycling Campaign magazine, as well as other channels.

We apologise to everyone for having to cancel this at short notice, but it doesn't look like it will be less icy on Sunday. If it had been a crisp winter morning without the ice it would have been a lovely day out -our route planning rides were in these conditions, and it was wonderful. Exploring Cliftonwood by bicycle on a sunny Boxing Day is a good use of a bank holiday. Now that we have some routes there, we will be getting everyone else up them, so that you can share the suffering too.

Adam and Steve

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snow status

Some of the hills we've planned to cover are currently fenced off and only for use by skiers, snowboarders and sledgers.

This is making the Sunday event somewhat doubtful. The big concern is not just snow, it's ice. The Montpelier roads usually become safe quite quickly, as long as you only travel in the two grooves cut by cars. Nugent and Nine-tree hill ice up and as they don't get much sunlight, stay icy. the others, well, it varies.

We will take a look at the route and the forecast and make a decision on Thursday, announce widely. If its postponed, it will be until later on in the year, maybe make a big event of it.

Saturday, 2 January 2010


This is the draft route. Kingsdown and Cliftonwood are the hard bits; the rest are just glue

View The Bastard Hills of North Bristol in a larger map

Friday, 1 January 2010

Cotham Vale: a secret little bastard hill

Hiding in Cotham is this short but steep bit of gradient, one with lovely views over Redland.

As a downhill, when it isn't fenced off after a snowfall, the primary problem is the sharp corner at the end. You cannot take the turn with speed as there may be something coming in the other direction.

It has fairly little traffic though, not even school-run parents, just people hoping for somewhere to park. As these cars are moving slowly or waiting for someone else to pull out, they are slow moving: no sprints to get to the school before 8:45 here!

As an uphill, well, it's a bastard. The gradient is between 20% and 25%, no letup. But short, wonderfully short. After Ninetree and Marlborough Hills, this one will be over before you've even noticed that you are suffering. That is, assuming your legs are working after the St Andrews and Kingsdown bits of the ride.