Monday 11 June 2012

Box Hill

With the Olympic Road Roace getting closer, I thought it worthwhile having a look at the highlight of the race, the Box Hill climb.

This has long been popular with cyclists as the Wikipedia entry alludes. The Guardian also lists it in one of Britain's Best Rides.

It looks to be a fantastic ride and one of steady ambition. In the Google map below, I spot the hard points where it goes above 10% and 20%! Luckily those are short and relieved by long drags that will dampen spirits but not put riders under too much pressure.

View Box Hill Climb in a larger map

Here's a great clip from 4ChordsNoNet showing many cyclists going at many different speeds!

However, I cannot disagree more with people who liken it to Alpe d'Huez. There simply is no comparison. Box Hill is 120m up at an average of 6%, Alpe d'Huez is 1071m at an average of 7.9%. Even if it's noted for it's character, it still doesn't come close. And that goes for pretty much every hill climb in the UK compared to the Alpine and Pyrenean climbs. I suspect those who say as such have never been near a European mountain climb. The sheer amount of time spent on a big climb is a different universe to the 10-20 minutes spent getting up Box Hill!

Maybe I don't know Box Hill well, and I've never done it. I have done several similar ones around the Goring Gap, where Streatley Hill is shorter for the same height gain. Again, hard, but no comparison to Plateau de Beille.

Anyway, to those riding it, happy riding! It looks fun. Any of course, to Mark Cavendish doing it 9 times during the Olympic Road Race (PDF), Good luck!


  1. I often ride Box Hill and have done for years. Really like it because of the zig-zag. But I agree that it really isn't a hard hill at all. Not sure the pro's will even get out of breathe riding it. There are harder hills in the North and South downs.

    1. Thanks Markyjl! I'm unlikely to do it as it's far enough away and I'm rarely that way.

      I did mean this very short peice to be a look at the joys of it, but then got irritated and carried away by the comparison to A d'H. I've been all over the Alps and Pyrenees, and we just don't understand the differences!

      I'll update this post to include afew more positive things about it!

  2. No idea who compares this to any alpine climb - I go up it most days - pretty much anyone could get up it with no problem because the gradient isn't that high and it remains about the same all the way.