Multiple World and Olympic track champion Sir Chris Hoy isn’t perhaps the first cyclist whose name springs to mind when thoughts turn to the bumpier roads out there, but the Scot has given his backing to a new campaign by Sky and British Cycling to discover the UK’s Perfect Hill to cycle down.
While for many of us the challenge of negotiating those bits of the map where the contours start getting closer together lies in pitting ourselves against the gradient and struggling to the top, the ride down the other side and the views it often affords is reward in itself; we’re all likely to have a favourite downhill stretch of road that we look forward to coasting down after cresting the summit.
Now, Sky and British Cycling are inviting your nominations of your favourite descent as part of the launch of the 2011 Sky Ride series, part of their efforts to get 1 million more people cycling by 2013. “The nationwide search,” say the two organisations, “will see the ultimate cycling descent being crowned the UK’s Perfect Hill.
“Designed to remind people how much fun cycling can be, anyone in Britain can nominate their chosen hill, the entry criteria are: location, views, where it takes them, historical significance and most importantly what the hill means to them,” they add.
Public votes and a three-man panel including Hoy and Etain O’Carroll, editor of the Lonely Planet Cycling Guide, will help determine the shortlist ahead of the winner being chosen.
Hoy, who is undertaking the role of Sky Ride ambassador for the third year in a row, said: "I'm really looking forward to taking part in one of the fantastic Sky Ride events this summer and it's great to be so involved in the campaign.
“What makes a hill perfect to cycle down? Well, that's up to you. It might be the amazing view from the top, the sense of achievement from getting there, the memories you have from riding down it, or the fact that it takes you to your favourite place - whatever hill springs to mind, we want to know and why."
Meanwhile, Sky and British Cycling have confirmed that this year there will be more Sky Ride City Events and Sky Ride Locals than in previous years, as well as the women-only Cycletta events and the Sky Ride Etape Hibernia. Full information is available on the Go Sky Ride website.
Last year, some 200,000 people of all ages and abilities participated in Sky Ride City events, and this year the first such ride will be held in Bath on 5 June – we’ll hopefully be down there, so be sure to say hello if you see us.
After that, further locations include Ipswich (12th June), Birmingham (3rd July), Middlesbrough (10th July), Bradford (31st July), Manchester (7th August), Southampton and Blackpool (both 14th August), Hull (21st August), Leicester (28th August), Mayor of London’s Sky Ride (4th September), Glasgow (11thSeptember) plus the London Boroughs of Hillingdon (31st July) and Barking and Dagenham (21st August). Further events will be announced in due course.
Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s Chief Executive commented; “Sky Ride 2011 is going to be even better than before and together with British Cycling we’re well on our way to getting one million people back on their bikes cycling more regularly.”
Ian Drake, CEO of British Cycling, added: “Together with Sky we want to inspire people to get out on their bikes and enjoy cycling, whether for a sport, a hobby or as a way to get fit. After the success of Sky Ride 2009 and 2010, we’re back in 2011 honouring great hills for cycling down and giving you the opportunity to get out on your bike and ride alongside stars such as Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy.”
Nominations of your Perfect Hill can also be made via the Go Sky Ride website, and if your memory needs jogging about worthy candidates for inclusion, you could always have a look at Simon Warren’s excellent book, 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, which we reviewed last year (although obviously the focus there is on going uphill rather than down the other side).
Let us know in the comments below what your favourite descents are, and also any that you really wouldn’t recommend anyone attempt, for whatever reason – traffic, potholes, road furniture or anything else.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.