Clan on Oz

We all know the story of the yellow brick Road, Dorothy and her shoes and the friends she meets on the way, all off to see the wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Scarecrow who wants to get a brain, the Tin Woodman a heart, and the Cowardly Lion, courage. All are convinced by Dorothy that the Wizard can help them too. Together, they overcome obstacles on the way including narrow pieces of the yellow brick road, Kalidahs, a river, and the Deadly Poppies.

It feels like we’ve gathered up a little Clan and like those on Oz are in need of the very same things. A brain, definitely on my list, having carefully studied the length of the rides but more importantly the climbs. Everyone I speak to has the same reaction when I mention one climb in particular, fear and dread. Where was my brain when I signed up for this.

In preparation, it’s been recommended I do some hill reps on Winterfold in Surrey, the climb is 1.5miles with an average gradient of 6.2% and a maximum of 21%. For this I am definitely going to need a heart, a very big one pumping gallons of blood into my legs bringing with it plenty of oxygen. So like the Tin Man, please Wizard deliver me a big heart.

The Surrey Hills present little in the way of a challenge when compared to the Alps, Dolomites or Apennines, the 1.5mile hike up Winterfold can in no way fully prepare one for the assault the Italian mountains are going to throw at us, so for that I am begging courage in abundance.

With a distance of 10.1km (6.3mi) km, it’s not a massively long climb, but (this is a big “but”) the average gradient is 11.9%. 11.9% that’s like selling everything at 99.9 pounds, like we don’t know it’s a 100 quid. So 12% for 10km, red zone all the way and with a kick of 22%, that’s as near as 1-in-4 as I would like to get. I’m going to need something Dorothy’s clan did not have, one stonking great dinner plate where currently a 29 cog sits.

If there’s one word that’s got to put the fear into the Clan on Oz, it’s the mighty Zoncolan. All forms of Wizardry accepted here!

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