Has the top of Bison Hill moved?

Bison Hill, Beds.

Bison Hill, Beds.

Recently I had two bike rides, one before breakfast and a longer one in the afternoon.  Fab.  Both were fab in fact.  Fab for different reasons.  I just want to reflect on some of the highs and lows of my morning bike ride here.

Setting off quite early I still needed lights to be seen by the small number of other cars around.  My plan was to cycle for about an hour and wasn’t quite sure of the route, instead taking a make-it-up-as-I-go-along approach.  I took a clock-wise direction in the map which some might spot it includes the infamous Bison Hill (yet again).

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The weather was pretty good, though cool.  I was going well and reflected on the fact my best time of day for running was before breakfast and there I was cycling well, on an empty stomach.  In spite of that I didn’t feel as if the fuel tank was empty at all.  Half way around I decided to include Bison Hill in the route and I felt I had a chance of cracking my PB of 4 minutes 56 seconds from way back last year.  In fact I’d been frustrated that so many of my recent attempts seemed pathetically slower and this is now made worse by feeling significantly fitter.

And then I took the trouble to look at Bison Hill on Strava in a little more detail.  Turns out there are a couple of end points at the top of Bison Hill and I’d been looking at the wrong one, putting me at a much slower position than I thought. This now explains my quandary of whether the top had “moved”.  Nevertheless I am still slower, albeit only by one second, as Saturday 19th April I managed 4:57 which is at the very least, under the magical 5 minute score.  Naturally my Coast to Coast friends Josh and Jeremy are significantly faster.  Otherwise I am 1185th out of the 2284 cyclists who have tackled Bison Hill (and using Strava).

Screen Shot 2014-04-21 at 21.55.54In my mind Bison Hill is turning out to be a personal challenge, a litmus test of my fitness.  Last year, pre-Strava days, I used to loathe it as it always represented 5 minutes of unnecessarily hard and unrewarding cycling.  It was simply 5 minutes of hard huff and puff up a flipping’ steep hill.  Nowadays it is different and one that, thanks to Strava, I am finding a little more rewarding.

I am sure my friend Paul will be taking great delight in interpreting the stats for me, commenting on my power output and how much more I’ll be needing to climb up Hardknott Pass at the end of June.  Heck that is a challenge, more and more, and it still gives me the creeps a bit.  In spite of that it is good training.  From running I learnt how interval training was so good for me and I hugely benefitted from that, so why shouldn’t that principle apply to cycling?  I suppose the disadvantage is that the duration is more or less fixed but I can live with that.  From the perspective of interval training it’s good to push yourself really hard, perhaps going right to the limit for a brief period of time and then backing off to allow the heart beat to come back down to a more reasonable level.

So there you are, a case of user-error rather than Bison Hill somehow moving.  My performance is remaining steady, which is okay.  No doubt Bison Hill will be tackled again and again, though not as Jeremy suggested.  His suggestion was to ride up 30 times and taking in a 5 mile loop to the bottom: that will simulate the Coast to Coast challenge we’ve set ourselves.  He may well be right in terms of the height climbed and distance travelled, it might even be great training, but it just doesn’t have the appeal of the real thing (creeps or no creeps!).

Jeremy might also be mocking me for taking up with Strava as I have done.  It adds an extra element of interest in cycling.  I must admit to being “fair game” here having resisted it for so long, emphasising how these electronic gizmos take away the honest simplicity of cycling.  Perhaps it does.  After all I have thoroughly enjoyed cycling all my life without Strava but nowadays I do admit to liking it as a way of keeping a record, month-by-month of my cycling and levels of fitness.


Cycling up Hardknott Pass

Turbo training torture

Cycling up Bison Hill, Bedfordshire



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