Birchcliffe

Distance: 1792 metres, Ascent: 173 metres, route map

Once this would have been a challenging little pub-to-pub ride. The challenge remains the same but it’s over a decade since the Mount Skip at the top of the ride was a pub. To see it in the glory days just grab yourself a DVD of the classic comedy Fanny and Elvis.

Things are more promising at the start of the ride as the White Lion is still in good health. But you can’t think about a pint right now, you’ve a hill to climb and you need to negotiate an awkward junction to get going.

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From the White Lion head south along Hollins Place, through the pelican crossing and then turn immediately left into Birchcliffe Road. Be careful as cars can be coming at you from all directions. It’s a very sharp turn and they need to use all the road to get round.

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Birchcliffe Road is immediately steep so be ready to drop down into your lower gears. It’s hard going to begin with but doesn’t stay that steep for long. Oh no, it soon gets much steeper and you’re faced with a tough continuous grind. After a sharp turn to the right you’ll see the challenge laid out before you in the shape of a straight and particularly steep hill that goes on for rather longer than you might like.

Be careful about halfway up this section as you pass the turning for Sandy Gate on your left. This is another awkward junction for vehicles to emerge from and they can often stick their noses out. Ride defensively and away from the gutter at this point so that you can be seen and you should be fine. If that means holding up some vehicles behind you then let them wait.

At the top of the ramp the grind is over and the road almost flattens out for a while. You go past the Dodd Naze estate on your left before things get steeper again but nothing like as tough as before.

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You should cheerfully motor on to the road at the top although rather cheekily the very last section gets enjoyably steep just as you’re running out of legs. Stop when the road ends at a Give Way sign.

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The Mount Skip across the road won’t serve you a pint but turn left and, after a little more climbing and then a generous freewheel you should find yourself at the door of the fabulous Hare and Hounds. Pause on your way though and you’ll be rewarded with some breathtaking views of the weather sweeping in from the west.

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