Here at Struggle HQ we don't just pin a virtual path and recon the route from the comfort of our car. Struggle's Matt Mannakee pedals every mile of our epic sportives. Here Matt talks you though the hardest ascents of Struggle Moors, provides his top tips for tackling the steep gradients and recalls some dark moments spent in the Yorkshire Moors.
"Named in the Top 8 Hardest UK Sportives for 2018, Struggle Moors offers hugely challenging terrain and super-tough climbs combined with the spectacular landscape of the Yorkshire Moors," says Matt.
"Why do we ride a super-tough sportive or cycling event? For me, it’s tackling a epic route which hits a century, exploring a part of the country we have yet to experience on a bike and all the while we’re satisfying our desire to battle bucket-list climbs.”
1.Glaisdale Horror: 10/10 Toughness/ Ranking No1
“This is my toughest climb on the route because it just goes straight up! It’s 25% gradient. There’s no hairpins. What’s more, it’s so narrow there’s no road width to zig-zag across. If you start to lose momentum due to poor gear selection you’ll be forced to get off and push.
“The road is narrow, with a gravel dusting across its surface and grass shooting through the cracks in the middle of the road. The climb requires your full body power and momentum to drag yourself to the top of this monster. The horizon plays tricks with your mind as the steep gradient keeps fighting back. Once at the top the view is breathtaking… especially when you see the final climb, Rosedale Chimney Bank, looming on the horizon.”
Matt’s Top Tip: “Keep your eyes peeled for the back of a triangular road sign which marks the top.”
Location: mile 85; Distance: 0.8 miles; Elevation gain: 608ft; Gradient: 14% avg
2.Rosedale Chimney 10/10 Toughness/ Ranking No2
“Many will say this should have the top spot, but once you’ve ridden Glaisdale Horror prior to hitting the Chimney, this final ascent will feel like a formality. Rosedale Chimney has a couple of steeper (33%) sections but the wide hairpins on the lower slopes help you iron out the steepness and keep your momentum.
“As the road straightens, the climb becomes unbelievably hard. To conquer this section you’ll summon every ounce of energy to just keep moving. The gradient then eases to 1 in 6 up to the top of the Chimney.”
Matt’s Top Tip: “I managed to haul myself up both Rosedale Chimney and Glaisedale Horror with my 39x27 race gears, but I was dreaming of a compact with every arduous pedal stroke. Arm yourself with at least a 28 cassette. No, make that a 32!”
Location: mile 91; Distance: 0.8 miles; Elevation gain: 600ft; Gradient: 14% avg
3.Boltby Bank: 8/10 Toughness Ranking No3
“As the first major climb on Struggle Moors, Boltby Bank instills the realisation you’re in for a very tough day. There’s very little warning signals of this climb’s arrival. You’ll rise up out of the village of Boltby where the gentle gradient lulls you into a false sense of security. When you hit Boltby Bank for real, you’ll know it!
Boltby Bank is a vertical wall that really does hurt. The road doesn’t help you gain traction. I’d hate to tackle it in the wet. The final section of Boltby Bank is another 1 in 5 gradient after a tight right hander, which will take you to the crossroads.
Top Tip: “Ease off at the top to take a breather. The next section is pretty ‘undulating!’”
Location: mile 15; Distance: 0.7 miles; Elevation gain: 527ft; Steepness: 13% avg
4. Cote de Grosmont 8/10 Toughness Ranking No4
“On Struggle Moors the Cote de Grosmont climb comes after a tough 25-mile undulating section including Limber Hill which saps the energy from your legs. Once over the railway crossing in Grosmont the road starts to climb. Take a right and the real steep section of this long climb begins; in fact it’s 33% in two sections.
“Once over these, focus on pacing yourself especially if you’re fighting the wind of this exposed ascent. But once at the top the landscape opens up and you feel on top of the world. You can see the sea, Whitby is to your left and you’ll then realise how far away from home you really are. It’s an epic feeling as you turn right, then right again and you’re on your way back. Now for the awesome descent into Goathland.”
Matt’s Top Tip: “Watch out for the sharp corner at the bottom of the descent.”
Location: mile 70; Distance: 1.3 miles; Elevation gain: 769ft; Gradient: 10% avg
5. Carlton Bank Toughness 7/10 Ranking No5
“This climb conjures up bad memories for me from my university days. I used to ride over it with some local pros, Paul Curran and Chris Newton. I never found it very easy, maybe due to the fact I spent my junior days riding in Essex. I’d be swinging off the back when Chris Newton would turn around and firmly say ‘You’ve got 10 seconds or we’re off Matt!’
“The first section drags up through the trees to the cattle grid, but it is from the steep left-hand bend where Carlton Bank starts to bite. A wall appears to the left which protects you from the drop below. Here the climb gets really tough. The road surface does get worse as the climb continues, meaning you will need to keep your head up and the power down to get to the top. There is a pretty good view at the top, but on Struggle Moors you'll be busy clicking up the gears ready to enjoy the sweeping descent that follows.”
Location: mile 35; Distance: 1.1 miles; Elevation gain: 624ft; Gradient: 10% avg
6. Limber Hill: Toughness 7/10 Ranking No6
“Short and sharp is how Limber Hill is best described. But trust me, it just appears from nowhere and it's super steep. You’ve just refuelled at the feed station in Glaisdale Horror, but be sure not to guzzle too many pork pies as Limber Hill is just around the bend.
“Many riders have been caught out and had to put their foot down; more from poor gear selection at the foot of the climb than their ability to get over this brutal kicker. Due to popular demand, this once unclassified climb on Struggle Moors has now made it onto the top tube stickers.”
Top Tip: “Watch out for more uncategorised climbs like Limber Hill, such as Sandhill Bank.”
Location: mile 66; Distance: 0.2 miles; Elevation gain: 176ft; Gradient: 16% avg
What's your thoughts on the Yorkshire Moors?
“Once you’re well and truly in the depths of the Yorkshire Moors the roads are relentless. Every section - even between the climbs - require the utmost respect. Try to race this route and you're asking for trouble. But with sensible pacing throughout the course and time spent enjoying the spectacular views, Struggle Moors is a feat achievable for all aspirational cyclists. Once you've ridden Struggle Moors, you will be prepared mentally and physically for any epic day out on the bike!”
We’d like to hear your option on the Struggle Moors climbs and you’re experience of these brutal beasts. Tell us your tips below...