April 2021 Segment of the Month

April’s segment sees us make a welcome return to one of the more popular and familiar climbs in our local area. This is one that will likely favour the lighter or more ‘punchy’ riders in our club and the relatively short segment length means the competition for points is set to be closely fought.

At around 1000m in length and with an average gradient of just under 5%, the Strava description doesn’t really tell the full story of this climb. Ramps of over 9% and a middle section averaging between 6% and 7% for a significant portion, means getting out of the saddle will be an inevitable requirement if you want your effort to count at the sharp end of the leader-board.

In complete contrast to last month’s longer TT segment, any ideas of carefully measured pacing with a finely judged tempering of power, whilst holding an aero position, need to be abandoned here. Your approach to Totford hill from the B3046 Candovers road will see you drop down the short gradient that leads you into the climb.

As you pass over the small bridge, the segment begins. Almost immediately the gradient kicks up as you turn sharply to your left and attack the start of the climb-proper. This initial section is the steepest part of the climb and how well you can cope with the effort needed to hold some decent speed here, will play a big part in determining your final placing.

The gradient softens slightly as the road twists first slightly left then more obviously right and the main part of the hill opens out in front of you. If you haven’t cooked your legs already, then you’ll need to hold above-threshold levels of power for the remainder of this middle part of the climb, as the hedgerow drops slightly and pleasing views across the valley open out to your left.

The start of a line of trees on your left marks the advent of another slight kick in the gradient and also tells you the run-in to the finish line is soon about to begin. As the climb continues the gradient falls away in front of you.

Unfortunately this is no time to ease off your power. With around 200m to go, you now need to summon a final effort to sprint for the finish line, as the road curves gently to your right, levelling off just before you reach the segment end, clearly marked by the old road sign for East Stratton which is on your left, just beyond the top of Northington hill road.

A quick look at the Strava ‘all time’ leader-board shows that one of our own club members holds the current KoM, with a frankly ludicrous time of 01:47. It will take a special effort for any of this month’s SoTM competitors to unseat JP from his top spot.

In contrast, the women’s QoM of 02:15 is tantalisingly within sight for current SoTM leader Joanne Clarke who holds a currently recorded blistering PB time of 02:34.

As always, please keep a sharp eye out for any wayward oncoming traffic, especially on the first corner at the foot of the climb; and please adhere to the rules of the road and whatever the prevailing ‘social distancing’ rules may be at the time.

The link to the segment is here:  https://www.strava.com/segments/27437453

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