Spring is here, summer is around the corner and we are planning some summer rideouts, and getting to enjoy the best of the country roads on our doorstep.
At Njinga HQ that means heading out to the Surrey Hills to enjoy some of our favourite climbs.
We want to share with you some of the favourite hills chosen by Njinga staff, Njinga academy members and Njinga collective riders, and why they might soon become yours too.
Green Dene is one of those gateway climbs that gets you out of London and into the Surrey Hills proper. At 2.3km to the top, it’s long for the area and it has a less punchy gradient than some of the others on the list. Look out for the concrete bowl hidden in the woods towards the top. And make sure you enjoy the descent down the other side!
Njinga team member Kelly: “Green Dene is one of my favourite climbs, it's got a nice gentle gradient, the road is always quiet and I love climbing up from the busier roads into the quiet of the woods.”
Claire Moxon: "I love the Green Dene climb as it's not too steep and in through the woods is so lovely."
Togo’s Coach Tip: “This is a fantastic climb, however, it is often underestimated by cyclists due to its average gradient of less than 4%. It is easy to go off too hard and end up slowing towards the end, however, pacing, gear selection, and endurance are crucial for a successful ascent. To achieve a good time, it's important to maintain a steady pace throughout the climb and reserve energy for a final push towards the top. You should start at your threshold pace and resist the temptation to accelerate harder at times. Additionally, use your gears wisely so you’re not stomping on pedals or saving gears, maintain a relaxed upper body, control your breathing, and focus on holding a steady power output."
Elevation Gain: 109m
Average Gradient: 3.6%
Max gradient: 11.3%
Staple Lane climbs the same ridge as Green Dene and is a favourite of many of our riders, and as such has similar stats, but looks and feels very different.
Staple Lane is a true classic of the Surrey hills and features in many sportives and social rides, raising up through beautiful countryside with some great views of London on a clear day towards the top. The climb finishes up in the woods so don’t get caught out early by what looks like the top and go too hard too soon!
Leigh: "Nothing too steep but still a good warm-up for the legs and gets the heart pumping. A perfect gradient where you can just find a good rhythm and sit in. The surface is not bad and the views at the top are fantastic."
Matt Drake: "I love Staple Lane, the way it winds up through the fields. On a sunny day, I don’t think you can beat it in terms of views. It is a climb of two halves. The first part finishes with a tough ramp to 10-11% and then a gentler second half through the trees to the end. Also, a great climb to descend. As you go down you can fully appreciate the wide vistas. Absolutely my favourite."
Togo’s Coach Tip: “The momentum you carry into this particular climb can make a huge difference to how to start the climb and settle in. It's a staircase climb so it's important to pace yourself so you have the ability to accelerate and increase your speed on the flatter sections. If this climb is mentally challenging for you then break it down into smaller segments. Use the flatter section to recover and mentally prepare for the next uphill section.”
Elevation Gain: 95m
Average Gradient: 4.2%
Max gradient: 10.9%
Another climb that starts from the A246 and gets you out towards the surrey lanes, High Barn Lane is less well known and much less heralded than some of the climbs in the area.
Taking a left onto High Barn Road on the fork with Beech Avenue you climb a narrow country lane before a short descent where a dog leg in the road strips you of all your momentum and you hit a more than 13% wall for a short sharp shock. Once over the short stretch, it's a gentle climb to the top and you are rewarded with some breathtaking views.
James Longhurst: "High Barn is my favourite climb, its always quiet and you won’t find it on any of the sportives or events. You pass the wonderfully named Badger’s Farm and once over the steep section, you can enjoy the climb out of the woods and into some stunning views on the way to Ranmore Common. On a clear day, you can see Wembley Stadium on your left as you get your breath back for more."
Togo’s Coach Tip: "Gear selection is so important on this climb so make sure you shift into an appropriate gear to allow you to climb at a sustainable pace. The latter part of this climb really kicks up so make sure you adjust your body position to maximise efficiency and power transfer. You should sit towards the front of your saddle and keep your upper body relaxed while maintaining a steady pedalling motion. One thing to note is there tends to be a lot of loose gravel and potholes on this climb so pay attention to the road surface and any descending riders. I generally avoid this climb on wet/damp days."
Elevation Gain: 118m
Average Gradient: 3.1%
Max gradient: 13.5%
A mainstay of Surrey Hills rides and events, Coldharbour takes you out from Dorking towards Leith Hill, the highest point in the area. Coldharbour takes you most, but not all the way to Leith Hill so you have more climbing to enjoy too.
Coldharbour has a mix of very steep gradients, gentle rises and even a short descent. It's mostly climbed in the woods so always comes with some moisture and some interesting variations in temperature.
Otso Huovinen: "Coldharbour gets my vote, definitely not a consistent climb, you don’t quite know what’s ahead and whether you’ve crested it when out there for the first time. It gives you a feeling of “entering the funnel to the hill” as the scenery quickly changes from the flat field to the shadowy, fern-filled forest."
Togo: "Coldharbour has got a bit of everything from steep sections above 10% to less challenging gradients around 5% to false flats and short flat bits. It's the climb that just keeps giving until you reach the right turn just before the pub at the top."
Togo’s Coach Tip: “When tackling this climb, it is important to pace yourself as its ramps up quickly. Start at a sustainable effort to avoid burning out before reaching the top. If you use power training zones, aim to maintain sweetspot power (sub-threshold). You should try and accelerate to 100 cadence when the gradient drops and the road flattens. Once you hit 100 cadence, make the gears harder and try and settle back to your sub-threshold pace at 90 cadence as the gradient increases again. The legs will burn a little on the accelerations but the more you practise it the more confident and faster you will get.”
Elevation Gain: 131m
Average Gradient: 4.1%
Max gradient: 14.7%
Togo’s Coach Tip: ”Like the Cold Harbour climb, discipline is key at the start of this climb. However, it's even more important to stay alert when entering Peaslake and turning into Radnor Road. The climb ramps up faster than expected, so be ready to quickly shift into easier gears to avoid being caught off guard. If you can maintain some momentum as you enter the climb, it will set you up for a great ascent. However, be cautious of fast descending riders or hikers, as the road is narrow at the beginning and visibility around the corner may be limited as the gradient increases. Once you conquer the initial steep section, focus on bringing your heart rate down by controlling your breathing. As the climb progresses, the gradient gradually decreases, allowing you to gradually increase your pace and finish strong."
Want to put your climbing legs to the test? Join the Njinga Collective and take on some of the spectacular climbs in the Surrey Hills with an awesome community. Join the Njinga Collective for just £5 for the year.
Need help to improve your climbing? Build up your climbing-specific strength with our 8, 12 and 20-week climbing plans in the Njinga Cycling Academy. Perfect to help you prepare to take on any climb.
Categories: Ride Smart