Hell of the North Sectors Pt.1

gravé noun
/grɑːveɪ/US/græːveɪ/

• (an area of) farm track/road/footpath/bridleway etc. which consists of potholes, loose paving, stones, rubble and mud.

The first five sectors of our Hell of the North ride take in a varied array of riding surfaces, gradients and scenery. Having ridden them a few times myself I am beginning to realise they have distinct personalities, some more amiable than others but none too difficult to cajole into favour. If you pick yourself a decent line and get your cadence right, rolling along Hertfordshire’s Hell-tracks should be absolutely wicked.

Sector 20:
Our first sector comes roughly 15km from the start. A smooth descent and a sharp right turn take us to our first real encounter with Hertfordshire’s notorious gravé. Spot the farmhouses here which are reminiscent of northern France. Burnt out VW Golf’s (victims of another kind of joy ride) make the scenery even more idyllic.

Sectors 19 & 18:
The gravé on sector 19 is immense. Potholes galore, but if you get your handling and pedalling in the zone, you can fire along like Moser chasing Kelly. After a return to the lanes for a while, sector 18 moves into more wooded regions. Expect mud and the sound of woodpeckers hammering as you rumble (or trundle) past.

Sectors 17 & 16:
Some of the potholes along here are deeper than Lance Armstrong’s pockets. Bike control and concentration will see you through. There may also, depending on the weather, be a swamp to negotiate. Whatever the case, just keep riding.

More Hell of the North sector previews next week.