Ok, so the Velo Birmingham climbs aren’t quite as stunning as this photo but they are nevertheless, pretty impressive in their own right, and I liked this photo.
The inaugural Velo Birmingham sportive takes place later this year on closed roads throughout the West Midlands countryside and Birmingham City Centre. Like so many UK sportives, the route takes in some of the best local cycle routes and showcases the regions beautiful countryside.
The route meanders through several counties, including Sandwell & Dudley, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, before returning to Birmingham City Centre and the rapturous applause of admiring friends, family and supporters.
Velo Birmingham is one of only a handful of closed road sportives in the UK, Ride London perhaps being the most well known, followed by Velothon Wales and Etape Caledonia in Scotland. And whilst 2017 may be its first year, I suspect it’ll be around for some years to come.
Covering a distance of 100 miles, the Velo Birmingham sportive is setting itself up as one of the bucket list sportives and one that saw 15,000 cyclists stampede to join, resulting in it selling out in just 4 days.
This article looks specifically at the climbs on the Velo Birmingham sportive but if you’d like to know more about Velo Birmingham itself, just click on that link for full details.
Velo Birmingham Route Change
Since publishing this article, the Velo Birmingham 2017 route has changed following protests from local residents along part of the route. The map below is the new route.
Velo Birmingham Route, Map & Climbs
So what of the route itself. The official elevation claims 6,555 ft but uploading the GPX file into Strava sees this increase to 7,140 ft. Other mapping platforms agree with Strava so we’ll go with that figure for the moment.
There are several ascents and descents to note, which include a couple of Cat 3, a Cat 4 and a Cat 5. The first climb isn’t until the 26-mile mark so there’s plenty of time for your legs to warm-up. This is a straight up and down climb from Yarhampton to Stanford Bridge and is immediately followed by the second climb of the day.
There are six climbs on the 100-mile route, some longer than others and some steeper than others. I’m going to detail each of the climbs on the route but in the meantime, if you’d like to view the interactive route map, just click on the following link for a full map of the Velo Birmingham route on the ridewithgps.com website.
The following table is a summary of the Velo Birmingham climbs and shows the location, mile-marker, elevation and average gradient. As you can see, four of the climbs come in the first half of the sportive and just two in the second half.
|Velo Birmingham Climbs|
|Climb 1:||Yarhampton to Great Witley||26.0m||500ft||3.2%|
|Climb 2:||Stanford Bridge to Hanley William||31.4m||625ft||3.5%|
|Climb 3:||Nineveh to Edwyn Ralph||40.0m||345ft||1.5%|
|Climb 4:||Bromyard to Norton||48.6m||290ft||5.0%|
|Climb 5:||River Teme to B4197||59.6m||385ft||1.9%|
|Climb 6:||Hampton Lovett to Clent (St. Kenelm’s Pass)||73.5m||710ft||1.0%|
Velo Birmingham on Google Maps Street View
As cyclists. we are all familiar with GPS routes, whether used as GPX or TCX files, we upload, download, save to Strava, Garmin Connect or whichever flavour of route planner you prefer. As motorists and pedestrians, we are also familiar with Google Maps and probably Google Street View too.
So how about combining all of this into one beautiful route map for your Velo Birmingham sportive?
The following videos are a fusion of still images taken from Google Maps Street View and are the six climbs of the Velo Birmingham route. Simply click on each link to view the climb via Street View images.
Positioned alongside the street view images is the route map for the relevant climb, shown in real-time as the video plays. There are controls to show the video faster or slower so you can see the exact spot to push harder or to take a well earned rest!
|Google Maps Street View Videos|
|Climb 1:||Yarhampton to Great Witley|
|Climb 2:||Stanford Bridge to Hanley William|
|Climb 3:||Nineveh to Edwyn Ralph|
|Climb 4:||Bromyard to Norton|
|Climb 5:||River Teme to B4197|
|Climb 6:||Hampton Lovett to Clent (St. Kenelm’s Pass)|
We think this is pretty cool so why not share this with your friends?
Velo Birmingham Climbs
Climb 1 : Yarhampton to Great Witley
|Velo Birmingham Climb 1 : Yarhampton to Great Witley|
|From:||Yarhampton||Elevation Start:||150 ft|
|To:||Great Witley||Elevation Finish:||650 ft|
|Start:||26.0 m||Elevation Gain:||500ft|
|Finish:||29.0 m||Average Gradient:||3.2%|
The first of the Velo Birmingham climbs starts just before you reach Yarhampton at around the 26-mile mark so you’ll be nicely warmed up by this point. The climb is 500ft over 3-miles, giving an average gradient of 3.2% but it peaks at 8% just before the summit.
As you’ll see from the video, the roads are pretty smooth and are surrounded by rolling fields and farmland. It’s a pleasant climb and if you keep a steady cadence and pace, you’ll be at the top before you realise it. Just save something for the kick at the end.
The descent comes just after Great Witley and is almost a replica of the ascent, so an average gradient of 3% with peaks of 8% so just be careful if you’re not a fast descender.
Climb 2 : Stanford Bridge to Hanley William
|Velo Birmingham Climb 2 : Stanford Bridge to Hanley William|
|From:||Stanford Bridge||Elevation Start:||175 ft|
|To:||Hanley William||Elevation Finish:||800 ft|
|Start:||31.4 m||Elevation Gain:||625 ft|
|Finish:||34.8 m||Average Gradient:||3.5%|
At the foot of the previous descent is Stanford Bridge, which marks the start of the next climb; Stanford Bridge to Hanley William. This climb is marginally longer at 3.4 miles and 625ft, giving an average gradient of 3.5% but with a few segments around the 12% mark so be warned.
Just before the halfway point of the climb, there is a right-hand turn, off the B4203 onto the B4204, which is a smaller single track road but as this is a closed road sportive, there’s no need to worry about anything coming in the opposite direction!
Climb 3 : Nineveh to Edwyn Ralph
|Velo Birmingham Climb 3 : Nineveh to Edwyn Ralph|
|From:||Nineveh||Elevation Start:||265 ft|
|To:||Edwyn Ralph||Elevation Finish:||610 ft|
|Start:||40.0 m||Elevation Gain:||345 ft|
|Finish:||45.5 m||Average Gradient:||1.5%|
This next climb will hardly be noticed by many cyclists but for the sake of the lesser experienced sportive participants, I’m listing it as a climb.
Starting from Nineveh, you’ll have covered 40 miles of the route and whilst this climb is over 5.5 miles, it gains just 345ft, giving it an average gradient of 1.5%. This really is a slow meander through Kyre Park, Bank Street, Collington and onto the peak at Edwyn Ralph.
Climb 4 : Bromyard to Norton
|Velo Birmingham Climb 4 : Bromyard to Norton|
|From:||Bromyard||Elevation Start:||360 ft|
|To:||Norton||Elevation Finish:||650 ft|
|Start:||48.6 m||Elevation Gain:||290 ft|
|Finish:||49.7 m||Average Gradient:||5.0%|
Passing through Bromyard sees the start of the fourth climb, a short 1.3 mile push over 290ft, giving this climb the highest average gradient at 5.0%. Even so, as you’ll see from the video, like the other climbs, a steady pace will see you up and over the summit before you realise its started.
Climb 5 : River Teme to B4197
|Velo Birmingham Climb 5 : River Teme to B4197|
|From:||River Teme||Elevation Start:||115 ft|
|To:||B4197||Elevation Finish:||500 ft|
|Start:||59.6 m||Elevation Gain:||385 ft|
|Finish:||63.5 m||Average Gradient:||1.9%|
By the time you descends towards the River Teme from Clifton upon Teme, you’ll have covered 60 miles, just short of the 100km mark and you will be at one of the lowest elevations of the entire route at a little over 100ft.
This also marks the start of the fifth climb, a 3.9 mile lift from 115ft to 500ft, giving an average gradient for this climb of just 1.9% but like several of the other climbs, the low average gradient masks some steeper sections. Like the previous climbs, these are steady rolling roads in beautiful countryside, just watch out for the left-hand turn after the first mini peak and maintain a steady pace so you reach the top in good order.
Climb 6 : Hampton Lovett to Clent (St. Kenelm’s Pass)
|Velo Birmingham Climb 6 : Hampton Lovett to Clent|
|From:||Hampton Lovett||Elevation Start:||140 ft|
|To:||Clent (St. Kenelm’s Pass)||Elevation Finish:||850 ft|
|Start:||73.5 m||Elevation Gain:||710 ft|
|Finish:||87.5 m||Average Gradient:||1.0%|
|Velo Birmingham Climb 6 : KOM / QOM|
|From:||Belbroughton||Elevation Start:||390 ft|
|To:||Clent (St. Kenelm’s Pass)||Elevation Finish:||850 ft|
|Start:||85.0 m||Elevation Gain:||460 ft|
|Finish:||87.5 m||Average Gradient:||3.4%|
And so we come onto the final climbs of the Velo Birmingham sportive. This is a long 14 mile drag from Hampton Lovett all the way through to St. Kenelm’s Pass, and whilst that sounds like a long climb, the elevation is just 710ft over the entire distance.
Technically, the climb starts around Ombersley and whilst some of you may be getting a little tired, you shouldn’t notice any elevation until the left turn off Kidderminster Road onto Woodcote Lane. The gradient does increase slightly at this point but just pace yourself until you reach Belbroughton, which sees the start of the King & Queen of the Mountain challenges.
If you haven’t watched any of the other Google Maps Street View videos, can I suggest you at least watch this one or one of the YouTube videos below. It’s a 2.5 mile climb, starting at the 85-mile mark and at the beginning of the end of the sportive. In other words, it’s the mark of the final hour of the event.
For most of us, legs will be tired at this point so start the climb as you mean to finish it. Don’t attack the hill unless you have the energy to keep it going throughout the full climb. We’ve recently re-looked at this final climb and think it’s going to be quite heavy on the legs after having already done 85 miles. It may be a case of taking a quick rest stop in Belbroughton, consuming a gel (or two) and then push-on to Clent and St. Kenelm’s Pass.
Some of the roads are narrow lanes but after 85 miles, the 15,000 cyclists will probably be quite spread out by this point. St. Kenelm’s Pass is a fitting end to the Velo Birmingham climbs and whilst there are no valley-wide views, the countryside is still to be admired.
From this point it’s a mere 10 mile sprint back into Birmingham City Centre and the adulation of friends, family and supporters, and the warm glow of having completed 100 miles and over 7,000ft of climbing.
Climb 6 : Belbroughton to Clent (St. Kenelm’s Pass) Video (Part I)
Climb 6 : Belbroughton to Clent (St. Kenelm’s Pass) Video (Part II)
Climb 6 : Belbroughton to Clent (St. Kenelm’s Pass) Video (Part III)
Velo Birmingham Climbs by Velo Viewer
The Velo Viewer 3D image of the climbs is an alternative view of the ascents and descents. As you can see from the image, there is a colour coded key to indicate gradients. The predominant colour is green, which shows climbs upto 5%, the colour to watch for is yellow, which shows steeper climbs of 5% to 10%.