Sunday 5 September 2021

Photo of the day - 5: Cycling up Toys Hill the hard way

This is one of my favourite views when I go cycling in the Kent lanes. I rode past here today. It's the view over the Kent Weald, from Puddledock hamlet. I imagine on a very clear day you can see Bough Beech reservoir and Hever Castle from here - once you've had time to get your breath back. 

Yes, the ride up Puddledock Lane after coming down past Chartwell is not easy at all. I call it the hard way up Toys Hill. Toys Hill is hard enough, and puts fear into a many a local rider, especially as it is done towards the end of a ride when returning to South London, with its unrelenting gradients. But the route to the summit via Puddledock is harder. 

If you coordinate your turn well on the descent from Hosey Common you can use a bit of that momentum to carry you up the initial part of the hill - for all of one metre! Most of the time I have to take it easy when turning into this lane from Mapleton Road as it is a sharp left-hand turn. Also, there's a rapid click of the gears as I try to find the granny ring. 

After that it's a steady grind, up the narrow road that goes straight up, with 15%+ sections. You can't go all out, as you need your wits about you if a car is coming down the hill, or even other cyclists too. Also, it's best to get used to the gradient at this time of year while the road is dry. Often in autumn and winter the road surface is damp and you end up having to do the whole thing in the saddle to avoid the back wheel spinning. So if your legs are primed for this type of effort, doing in the saddle won't seem so onerous. 

I seem to have made it sound like a hill too be avoided. But I really love that sense of satisfaction when you reach the top, and Toys Hill Well, with it's lovely view and park bench make for a just respite and reward, before carrying on to join the main Toys Hill and ride up the last hard section, and enjoying the long fast descent to Brasted.

I did do another difficult climb after Puddledock - Westerham Hill. That one was still hard, but not as quad-busting as the previous push I had to do, so I was happy enough.

This is the link to the full route I did today.

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