The 106th edition of the Tour de France begins on Saturday 6 July, covering 3,460km of French countryside. The race is famed for its long mountain stages in the Alps and Pyrenees and whilst we may not be able to match them for size, there’s plenty of great climbs to be found right on our doorstep here in the Chilterns. Alex Joynson, owner and founder of Tring-based cycle clothing & accessories brand ‘Wearwell’ highlights 5 of the most challenging hills in the area.
Length: 1.6km Average Gradient: 4.5% Steepest Gradient: 7.0%
Like our very own Mont Ventoux, Ivinghoe Beacon looms large over the Aylesbury Plain. It can be approached via the B489 in either direction and offers a long steady climb which helpfully has both its start and finish marked by cattle grids at either end. The views on the way up are so spectacular that you might find yourself wanting to turn back round at the top to do it all again (or at least to head back down to the ice cream van that can often be found in the car park halfway up!). Approach from Ivinghoe Aston if you want to enjoy an even longer ride up to the summit.
Length: 0.9km Average Gradient: 7.4% Steepest Gradient: 9.5%
The start of this climb begins in the picture-perfect village of Aldbury. Build up some speed as you pass the pond and begin the climb up the conveniently-named Tom’s Hill Road. The route winds its way up through a tree-lined ridge on the edge of the Ashridge Estate ramping up steadily all the way to a sharp left-hand bend which marks 100m to go. Recover along a welcome flat section at the top and head to the Brownlow Café in the middle of the Ashridge Estate for a coffee and slice of cake as reward (if justified!).
Length: 1.0km Average Gradient: 8.2% Steepest Gradient: 21.4%
There can’t be too many climbs in the UK where you can come faceto face with an actual Bison half way up. Approach via the Dunstable Road before turning onto the B4540. The start of the climb is steady but it quickly ramps up through a brutal middle section that barely eases up as you pass Whipsnade Zoo and the road’s eponymous character.
Length: 1.0km Gradient: 8.4% Steepest Gradient: 15.9%
Located half way between Tring and Wendover, Aston Hill is approached via a sharp turn off the Upper Icknield Way. The hardest section is early on winding up past the golf club, with a bit of respite halfway through before another ramp at the finish. Approach from Aston Clinton for a few extra metres of climbing.
Length: 1.3km Average Gradient: 6.0% Steepest Gradient: 13.4%
Join the start of the climb from the New Ground crossroad on the A4251 between Berkhamsted and Tring. Enjoy a good steady climb which winds up Hemp Lane crossing the A41 in the process before heading into the tree-covered road up to the village of Wigginton.
The Wearwell Cycle Company offer a range of cycle clothing and accessories including a Tour de France-inspired yellow jersey. Discover more at www.wearwell.cc.