Tag Archives: cycling uphills

Lent – what are you going to give up?

Lent runs from Wednesday 1 March to Saturday 15 April this year (2017).   By observing Lent, Christians are remembering the sacrifice of Jesus, who withdrew into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days before his crucifixion.  Traditionally, people have given up certain luxuries as a form of penance.

So for me, I’m going to give up the luxury of sleeping in until at least 6.30am each morning and set my alarm for 5.00am instead (in effect, I am giving up 90 minutes of warm bed action).

Giving up some sleep for Lent

Added to that, I am going to drag my sorry butt out of the front door and ride up the local hill, all before I normally surface.  Hopefully, I will see some nice pre-dawn scenes and even some sunrises as we progress towards spring in the northern hemisphere.

Finally, I’m going to be doing all this early morning riding on my Brompton Bicycle – a bike that is one of my favourites and enjoys a mad challenge.

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How are cycling climbs categorised?

The Citreon 2CV - the climb categoriser
The Citreon 2CV – the climb categoriser

Climbs on the Tour de France (and all Grand Tours and bike races) are categorised. I thought it would be useful to write this little post, so that you know what I am talking about when I say something like “Today’s stage was savage: there was one 2nd Category climb, two 1st Category climbs and a Hors Category (HC) climb…..”

I was once told that the climb classification was originally worked out using a good old Citroen 2CV.  As I once used to drive a 2CV, I could relate to it.  The story goes that if the car could make it up the climb in 4th gear, it was a Category 4 climb; if it could get up in 3rd gear, it was a Category 3 climb; and so on up to 1st gear. If the little car could not get up the climb, it was Hors Category (HC) which means “without category”.

So in terms of effort, I could simplify it even further:

Category 4 climb – Moderate 

Category 3 climb – Hard 

Category 2 climb – Really hard

Category 1 climb – Really very hard

HC climb – Really very extremely hard

So there you have it – simples!

Even today, the way a climb is categorised is not much more scientific, although a bit of subjectivity is thrown in for good measure and the organisers of the Grand Tours sometime increase the category of a particular climb to light the race up and increase the King of the Mountains (KOM) points.

And for the record, during my Tour de France ride of 2015 I will be riding the following number of categorised climbs during my 21 Stage thrash around France:

18 x Category 4 climbs
13 x Category 3 climbs
12 x Category 2 climbs
7 x Category 1 climbs
7 x Hors Category climbs

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