For a few weeks now there have been road works on Grey’s Inn Road, opposite the Condor bike shop, my LBS at work. Thanks to these works I have been exploring diversions along some of the back roads leading to Clerkenwell and Farringdon Roads. As well as bypassing the road works, my preferred diversion also skips several sets of traffic lights, knocking perhaps a minute of the ride, but a minute is no great benefit (although the roads are quieter so there may be an argument for capacity). No, the main benefit, or perhaps that should be reward, for me is the discovery of a new climb. Small it may be, but it is a perfect little treat for my short Boris Bike commute from Kings Cross to work.
Turning off Grey’s Inn Road, I ride down Gough Street, a quiet cobbled lane running along the back of the ITN studios, then it is a left onto Mount Pleasant, before turning away from the Royal Mail sorting offices with a right turn on to Warner Street. I pass under the Rosebery Avenue Bridge Viaduct, always looking splendid with its decorative trefoil ironwork. Warner Street bends to the left where it junctions with Farringdon Road, but I turn right, off the bend, and on to Back Hill. Rising at a meagre 3% gradient, it is a 100m long, near traffic free, climb. The climb terminates at the lane’s junction with Clerkenwell road, beneath the disappointingly blacked out windows of the Agent Provocateur offices and the grand facade of St Peter’s Italian Church. It is a very minor climb, but, on my very brief 1.8 mile commute, it is elevated above every other stretch of tarmac simply by its aged, and perfectly imperfect cobbled surface.
When the road works on Grey’s Inn Road are complete, I think I’ll continue to tackle this climb for a while – the chunky wheels and easy gearing of Boris bikes seem designed for a climb like Back Hill; it would be a shame to waste the bike’s engineering on plainer London roads.