October 2020 Strava Segment

October arrives and we find ourselves at the end of this year’s competition. To close the year out, this month’s segment takes us to what is regarded as one of the most well-known and fiercely contested local climbs, Beacon Hill.

The segment begins on the straight false-flat of the White Way, just beyond the sharp left turn corner that you navigate when approaching the hill from the main Warnford Road.

You will pass the field of vines on your left as you approach the foot of the first (and steepest) section of the hill, as the road curves to the right and disappears upwards away from you into the tree line.

As the gradient increases you’ll need to choose quickly; drop to a smaller gear and spin out in the saddle until the steep section ends, or keep it in a bigger cog, get out of the saddle and power your way through the tree lined tunnel that in places reaches over 14%.

As the gradient eases, resist the temptation to slacken off, as time is to be made by pressing on through the middle and relatively easier section, that begins to curve gently to the left as the view of the Warnford valley opens up on your right.

As the curve tightens, there is a perception that the road is narrowing, as the hedgerow begins to obscure your view and the gradient again starts to pitch up a little. Dig deep here, to pace your effort up to and beyond the gate on your right that then marks the start of a temporary flattening off of the gradient and the opportunity to briefly catch your breath.

Any relief is short lived as you need to bring the pace up quickly to give yourself as much momentum as possible for the final short, sharp and relatively steep run-in to the crest of the hill, with a right-left twist in the road adding to the sense of gradient.

The crest is not the end of matters though, as you need to push through the top of the hill and carry on a few more yards to the segment finish line, that lies a sensible distance from the junction with Beacon Hill lane.

At 1.15 miles in length, with 364 feet of climbing, the average 6% gradient of this Beacon Hill segment is deceptive, so you will need to bring your best efforts to set a good time.

In terms of safety, please be mindful that this hill is also a popular descent for cyclists, runners and other road users including horse riders. For this reason, please make sure you climb on the ‘left’ to protect yourself from any fast-moving oncoming traffic. Please also be aware that at this time of the year, the amount of gravel on the road may be greater than you would normally expect to see.

The link to October’s segment is here: https://www.strava.com/segments/25583729