This year, Old Winch Hill has taken a rest from Queen Stage duties, however we couldn’t let the year pass without our favourite local climb featuring somewhere in the annual Segment of the Month (SoTM) competition.
For August, we ascent to the ridge of Old Winch via a different and less common route. This segment is around just over 1 mile in length and begins with a short downhill before following the natural gradient of the hill up to the familiar ridge junction.
The overall segment gradient is reported at 2.4%, however this information conceals the true profile, due to the initial downhill part bringing the average down.
You begin your effort, as the segment starts just as you crest the short hill, having travelled from the South West past the triangular junction between Stocks Lane and Watton Lane.
Directly ahead, you face just over three quarters of a mile of climbing, averaging around 5.5% with peaks at over 8%. The gradient stretches out in front of you with open fields on either side, as you climb up towards the farm building that mark the end of the steepest section so far. This unremarkable road is curiously named Annie Avenue and the lack of any stand-out features helps to mask the steepness of the climb.
From here the road temporarily eases off in gradient, as you pass through a more wooded area onto a false-flat that allows some brief respite and a chance to up the pace a little, in readiness for the sharp left hand turn that will mark the run-in to the segment finish line.
As you approach the turn, the old-fashioned road sign comes into view, signalling a right turn across the junction for Chidden and Hambledon. Instead you need to opt for the left turn that follows the main route of the road, indicated as the direction for West and East Meon by the sign.
Be careful to watch out for oncoming traffic from the left that may inadvertently be travelling on the wrong side of the road towards you.
At this point it will now be time to go all-in. A winning time will need a full-gas out of the saddle sprint up the remining short but sharp gradient taking you to the finish line that lies parallel to the farm structure and small layby on your right, at the crest of the hill just prior to the main junction with the Old Winch Hill ridgeway.
As always, please follow the rules of the road, along with any social distancing requirements that may be in place at the time. The link to the segment is here: https://www.strava.com/segments/32419449