A whole year of training is finally distilled into one breathless blur of uphill climb.
Here’s a map and a profile of the hill, and a comparison with White Down, the steepest climb in the Surrey Hills close to where I live, and the last training test I do before setting off to Brighton each year.
Ditchling Beacon (South Downs, Sussex):
Base: 88 m. Top: 226 m. Vertical: 134 m.
Length of climb: 1.0 mile / 1.6 km. Average gradient: 8.4 %. Maximum: 16.1 %.
White Down (North Downs, Surrey):
Base: 118 m. Top: 213 m. Vertical: 95 m.
Length of climb: 0.6 mile / 1.0 km. Average gradient: 9.5 %. Maximum: 19.3 %.
The key to Ditchling is its length. White Down has steeper pitches in its dark and ancient woods, which hide a World War II pill box beside the road as well.
You can see the sea and all of Sussex from atop the Beacon. Eleven months of training all come down to eleven minutes to crest the climb. And it’s still the peak of any cycling year.
153. The green monster – Ditchling Beacon and the London to Brighton bike ride
170. The winds of doubt – Brighton 10 km 2007
149. In at the deep end – Stratford 220 Sprint Triathlon
197. The Hog’s Back Road Race, Guildford 2008 – It’s All About the Hill
155. Le grand départ – the Tour de France in London 2007
34. Lines from the Battle of Guildford
113. The Pilgrim’s Progress – Surrey Hills 2