I’m booked on the Cheshire Cat Sportive in a few weeks time and this includes the Mow Cop climb, which is #36 in the Greatest Cycling Climbs in the UK book. It’s VERY steep and at one point has 200m at a 25% gradient – killer!
I decided to start from the swimming baths in Market Drayton and ride out to do the climb in advance and see what all the fuss is about / work out my strategy for the Sportive day.
I rode out up to Audlem on the main road and then onwards up to Hankelow before cutting across to Wybunbury and onwards past Alsager to Congleton. It was just after Alsager that I got a first sight of the climb itself (see the photo above). Looks hellishly steep!
Before the climb I’d planned a cafe stop at Congleton Garden Centre for a coffee and cake to help fuel me for the climb ahead. A really nice cafe stop too with loads of nice food I might have tried had I not got some serious climbing to do!
At the bottom of the climb itself I had to wait an age for the railway crossing gates to go up. This did not help as my mind was in overdrive about the climb by now and I was trying to reassure myself I could do this, despite my mind telling me I’d struggle.
Gates up and off I set. It certainly lived up to it’s reputation as a lung buster! The first section was ok but then there was a right turn immediately followed by a left turn and the gradient kicked up substantially. Ouch!
The next section levelled off a bit (when I say levelled off it’s all relative – it would have been a steepish hill under normal circumstances for this bit). Then it started to kick up again and I could see the wall of road ahead that was the 25% section by the Cheshire View pub.
My strategy was to try and stay seated until the 25% section to save my legs, but the bit just before this was so steep my front wheel kept lifting off the tarmac, so steep was the road. This really unnerved me so I stopped to calm things down just before the 25% bit.
Onwards I plodded and got up the really steep section out of the saddle and with lots of hard work. Then it’s just a short section at a reasonably steep gradient to the top of the climb. I made it! Well chuffed!
I then opted up to the very top by the mast. The road was closed but the nice workmen let me through and I was on my way down the other side into Kidsgrove and onwards to home.
The route back was uneventful apart from Garmin trying to take me down an old pit road that had more potholes than a very holey road on the way back. A quick check of my phone and I found a route past. I then opted for a bit of off piste navigation back to Woore via Betley. Great fun and some new roads for me to cycle down.
At Woore I was totally enjoying the ride so far. The sun was out and I still had plenty of gas in the tanks so I decided instead of heading back to Market Drayton I’d go down the A525 to Audlem and on to Whitchurch and then ride back to Drayton from there.
I stopped for an excellent cheese Staffordshire oak cake and coffee at the Priest House in Audlem as I was getting peckish by now. Then tried a new route from Calverhall back to Drayton which worked out perfectly.
A quick pint in the sponsor’s brewery tap in Drayton finished off the day very nicely.
A fab ride and Mow Cop conquered. Absolutely loved that!
Route: click here