Hell of the Worth 2016: The Hardest Day

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Hell of the Worth 2016: The Hardest Day

Postby Jack Hughes » 20 Mar 2016 12:35

"The Hardest Day" (THD) was a success, if you can measure success by riders pleading to be allowed to stop. And I think you can.

This was a bit different to previous years: Just throw every cobbled climb you can find within a 15 mile radius of the starting point (well, nearly every one), once you've done then, fill in the gaps to create a route that maximises the amount of climbing you can can do per KM.

Then pick a time of year when, at best, it's cold, gets dark around 6pm, and people are still relatively unfit from the lardy dark months.

The result, a smorgasbord of pain: a route combining the savage beauty of pre-spring wild open moorlands, with the savage beauty of post-industrial landscapes. Not that anyone too in much of the sights; it's hard to when you are nearly passing out.

I think I counted about 28 cobbled climbs on the route, in the end we managed 23. It was getting dark, people were shattered, at at the top of #23 they begged to be allowed to stop. Excellent.

The war of nerves started will before, with lots of the committed riders, making last minute excuses, which left four of us.

The extremely fit and and strong IanM, the pretty fit and strong Scottie, and the very fit and light Mark. And me. Neither fit, strong nor light. Oh dear.

Weather was actually pretty good - 3.5 degrees, although by 4pm it had dropped considerably.

Can't remember too much about the rest of it, however, according to Strava's suffer score, it was my hardest ever ride (and I missed out a few of the climbs so as not to slow the others up too much).

We had pork pies and beer afterwards.

Everyone wants to come back for more; next time, I'll cut the route back a little bit though.
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Re: Hell of the Worth 2016: The Hardest Day

Postby Kevy427 » 20 Mar 2016 17:18

Well done to all who attempted this! And the pie verdict?
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Re: Hell of the Worth 2016: The Hardest Day

Postby kfjatek » 20 Mar 2016 23:56

Nice one!

I *will* do it one day..

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Re: Hell of the Worth 2016: The Hardest Day

Postby IanM » 21 Mar 2016 09:55

Another great Yorkshire day out. Huge thanks to JH for his continuing skilful herding of cats. The weather was verging on tropical compared to last year's horizontal rain. The route was fresh and interesting, and the climbs as ball breakingly brutal as ever. Only downside was the missing regulars, hopefully they'll be back next year.

For those who haven't done it, I can't stress enough that you NEED to do this. Yes, it's tough (harder than the Tour of Flanders, according to someone that came up to ride on Saturday), but there's always an 'easier' option, be it a detour, or just walk up - there's no shame in this, it just makes you want to come back fitter and stronger to beat it. The scenery is stunning, and the beer and pies are outstanding.
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Re: Hell of the Worth 2016: The Hardest Day

Postby Jimba » 21 Mar 2016 11:26

Well done guys, it's just too hard for me!
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Re: Hell of the Worth 2016: The Hardest Day

Postby Jack Hughes » 21 Mar 2016 11:36

Kevy427 wrote:Well done to all who attempted this! And the pie verdict?


Pies were good. Although a large quantity were smuggled down south.
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Re: Hell of the Worth 2016: The Hardest Day

Postby Jack Hughes » 21 Mar 2016 11:44

Key question: Was it the hardest day?

Given that we didn't manage all the route: with a 9:30am start, and return at 5:00 (theoretically, we could have had an extra hour before dusk, but people were too exhausted), we managed 100km/3000m, and about 23 or 24 cobbled climbs (ranging from flatish/descent [quite difficult], to extremely difficult), that implies the route was hard enough, for levels of fitness/time of year.


More empirically, Strava says it was my biggest ever suffer score; and my fourth highest in terms of metres climbed (but no where near the top in terms of distance). So hardest by several measures.


I think IanM beat his record for TSS (a measure of how hard things are, like the suffer score, but using a powermeter instead of heart rate) - 300 for the day, with a bit of the missing bit of route on the Sunday to bring it up to nearly 400.


And, as IanM says, Mark, our Flanders expert gave his official verdict that the climbs are harder than the Flanders ones (used in the Sportive/Race). So, again, if you ever fancy a prep-ride for Flanders, then this is the one (you get a week to recover).
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Re: Hell of the Worth 2016: The Hardest Day

Postby scibby » 21 Mar 2016 17:14

Ah, here it is! Hmmm fun, why the obsession with cobbles though...


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Re: Hell of the Worth 2016: The Hardest Day

Postby Jack Hughes » 21 Mar 2016 20:16

scibby wrote:Ah, here it is! Hmmm fun, why the obsession with cobbles though...


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Good question. There are a number of reasons:

- The challenge. A climb on cobbles is, say, between 3 and 5 times harder than if the road was tarmacked. In order to climb up, you don't just need strength and power, or low weight, you also need handling skills - is as much about balance and control with the whole body as to what the legs can do. It's extremely easy to fall off.

- Cycling history/culture: Some of the greatest races, some called "monuments" are held on the cobbled roads and hills of Flanders - mainly part of the north/west of belgium, and a bit of France. These races have been run for over 100 years. So, it's kind of a way of finding out what these races are like, to get a better understanding of what the racers go through.

- British history. We don't build cobbled roads any more, so these the ones that we have left are odd artefacts of a bygone age. So if you are interested in history, especially what was it like in the golden age of cycling (i.e. before cars were commonplace and affordable), then it is a good way of finding out

- Under standing the dynamics of cycling. One of the things that, certainly for me, makes cycling interesting, is that a race is just about the competitors. The terrain/geography of the course has an enormous impact on the race. Riding in a group makes a vast difference into how much energy is needed compared with on your own, or at the head of the group. So if all the roads were flat, the races would be pretty similar and just come down to sprints at the end. Which can be fun, but would be a bit samey after a while. the obvious thing to do is to put hills or mountains in the way. If you are going up hill, slowly, fighting gravity, then the effect of wind resistance is reduced. Which is way many many big races go through mountain ranges - alps, pyrenees, dolomites, asturia etc. etc. However, the real advantage here is about power to weight, so you end up with skinny little people dominating. So, then, it starts to get as repetitive as sprint races (not quite as much). the other problem is that not everywhere has high mountains. So what to do? This is where the cobbles come in. Because they are so hard to ride (even the flat ones) it also strong riders to ride away from the front, with the toughness of the cobbles overcoming the disadvantages of wind resistance or long high altitude climbs. So these races become ones of attrition - the number of riders that can remain at the end of the race tends to become less and less, as the people attack and so on. Because the races are so tough, they tend to be one day races. But they make for very interesting ones, with different tactics and flow to flat ones that end in a sprint, or high mountain ones. And they also favour a different kind of rider - not the lightest, and not the ones with relatively large amounts of fast twice fibre. Classics riders tend to be heavier, larger and more powerful than hill climbers. But with more endurance string than sprinters. The cobbled races also take place in early spring, when the weather is foul, which adds another dimension, from February to April. And they are some of the most exciting races to watch.

-The Hell of the Worth as more like the tour of flanders in that the cobbles are climbs. But the name is a pun of "The hell of the North", which is a flat race, with cobbled sectors doing the job of hills. It's called "Worth" because it is centred around the Worth Valley - seen in names like Haworth and Hainworth andd Thwaites Worth and so on. Although it spends as much time in the Calderdale, Hebble Valley, Ovenden, Luddenden and Shibden (-den means valley, as does dale).

Anyway, the Tour of Flanders is on a week on Saturday, so send the kids out with their tend, get yourself some Belgian beers in, and settle down in front of Eurosport for what will be an interesting afternoon.
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Re: Hell of the Worth 2016: The Hardest Day

Postby Worrying Will » 21 Mar 2016 23:19

Cobbles climbs are just amazing to ride. It's the balance and skill needed to ride them which is why I love the HOTW

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