Reblogged: The Porlock Hill Climb

Porlock hill climb

by the winner of the race, Tevjan Pettinger.

This text was posted by  on SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 in HILL CLIMBS

Sunday 29th was a 4 mile hill climb up Porlock Toll Road, organised by Minehead CC. The road was closed to traffic and it was a really great event, enthusiastically promoted by Minehead CC with support from Porlock toll road and Porlock village. There was also a very generous prize list sponsored by ( – a big mountain bike race held each August.


Porlock hill climb Toll road to the right, A39 to the left.

Despite travelling around the country quite a bit, I rarely go further south west than Bristol. I’ve done very little riding around Somerset so it was a great opportunity to start riding some of the Exmoor climbs.

The village of Porlock is quite charming and for a hill climber, seems inundated with great hill climbs at every junction. (hill climbers heaven or hell, depending on your point of view!) The A39 main road climb out of Porlock features number 4, in Simon Warren’s 100 Greatest hill climbs. (rated 9/10) At 25%, it is reputably the steepest A road in the country. However, the race was to be held on the alternative climb – Porlock Toll Road. This is a fantastic climb – 4 miles of pretty constant 5-6%. The road surface is good; and it’s as close to riding an ‘Alpine’ style climb as you will get in the south of England.  On the lower slopes it is mostly in sheltered woods, though every now and then you can get a glimpse of the sea to your right.


There are two 180 degree switch backs. It’s a great feeling when you’re climbing and can see the road down below you’ve just come up. Towards the top, the climb shallows out, and is a bit more exposed. I rode it once before the race started and liked it straight away.


Double switch back


Porlock Hill climb (toll road)

  • Distance – 4.1 miles
  • Avg Grade – 5.5%
  • Max gradient – 8%
  • Lowest Elev 160ft
  • Highest Elev – 1,360ft (414m)
  • Elevation gain (370 metres)


The race

I believe it is the first time that a race has been held on the whole climb, so it was hard to gauge how long it would take. I thought it would be a little like Snake Pass, just a bit longer. I started off reasonably hard. The hill is slightly steeper on the bottom. It is a good hill to get in a rhythm and I stayed in the saddle all the way to the top. The 180 degree switchbacks were interesting. I’m not used to racing on these kind of climbs. On one corner, I had to touch my brakes as I was running out of road. Towards the top, the trees disappeared, and fortunately a tailwind gave a little help to the finish. The gradient also became a bit shallower for the last mile. I finished in a time of 13.24 (just under 18mph) This was enough for first place, and I think I can claim a course record.

It was also nice to get quite a few cheers from a surprisingly large number of spectators and marshals by the side of the road.

Porlock Hill
After the race, I couldn’t resist having a go at the other Porlock hill climb. It’s been a light week of training and it’s not often you get a category two, 370 metre hill to have a go at. That’s a real brute. A wicked section of 25% at the bottom and then another couple of miles long slog to the top. I’m sure many were glad to be racing up the toll road!

After the race there was a prize ceremony with former world champion Wendy Houvenaghel giving out the prizes. The whole event was really good, you felt a lot of work and enthusiasm had gone into it from members of Minehead CC, and it was nice to see it pay off.

One nice touch, the village of Porlock were really keen to encourage the event, helping us to have good facilities and a local womens group did the refreshments.  I also received a homemade trophy by local schoolchildren. Very cool. Perhaps we can suggest something similar to the residents around Box Hill in Surrey.

Some photos of Event


James Dobbin (Arctic Sram RT – National hill climb champion 2006, 2007



Paul Jones Bristol South CC


The start.


Tejvan Pettinger at the start. What you might call hill climbers arms.



(a VC Walcott rider)


Wendy Houvenaghel (Bike Chain Ricci) World Champion Team Pursuit


Aryavan Lanham, Sri Chinmoy CT

Porlock Hill

The start.


Fortunately, it was a warm day.


Using muesli bars to prop up rollers on the grass.

Porlock Hill

Village of Porlock.

View from the hill


Porlock hill



Right on the top of Exmoor from A road climb.

Porlock Pedal

After the event, the road was kept closed to traffic to allow other people to have a go at climbing the hill with car free roads. Quite a few people took advantage.



Nice views



Results 2013

Results Porlock 2013

Partial Results click to enlarge

  1. Tejvan Pettinger Sri Chinmoy CT – 13.24
  2. William Harrison – Taw  Velo – 14.36
  3. Charles Coleman – VC Walcott – 14.36
  4. James Dobbin – Arctic SRAM – 14.43
  5. Tavis Walker – VC Walcott – 14.56
  6. Paul Jones – Bristol South  – 14.59
  7. James Coleman -VC Walcott – 15.02


  1. Wendy Houvenaghel  – Bike Chain Ricci – 16.14
  2. Wiebke Rietz – 1st Chard Wheelers – 19.16
  3. Ayse Vahiboglu – Exeter Wheelers – 19.17


  1. Sean Henderson – North Devon Wheelers – -15.04

Thanks to Vilas for many photos. And again thanks to those who helped put on the race. Hopefully, the event will be held same date in 2014.





Team GB Kitting OutMinehead Cycling Club’s inaugural time trial Hill Climb event up the Porlock Toll road on Sunday 29 September has attracted some of the country’s leading climbers, but the star attraction and a  true legend of recent times, will be Wendy Houvenaghel, a member of the all-conquering Great Britain Track Cycling team. Between 2008 -2012 her haul of 3 World Championship Gold medals in the Team Pursuit, 4 silvers at both Individual and Team Pursuit plus a silver in the Individual Pursuit at the Beijing Olympics mark her out as one of the country’s most successful riders of all time. Competing for the extensive prize list will be National Championship riders as well as a contingent of local and club cyclists.

Club Chairman Bernie Mitchell said “ The first staging of this exciting addition to the national cycling calendar has attracted a field of 88 top class riders from all over the west of England and beyond.

“The timed ascent of the iconic almost Alpine 4 mile climb, which Porlock Manor Estate is closing to traffic for the duration, will give the riders a rare chance to compete on a traffic-free road in one of the most scenic areas in Somerset. The route and particularly the finish are absolutely superb for spectators. The Exmoor Explorer Mountain Bike race committee has generously donated all of the extensive prize money and people from Porlock Village Hall are providing the riders catering facilities and many of the event marshals. West Somerset College Design and Technology students have designed the winners’ trophies specifically for the event.

The first rider departs at 11.01am with the remainder setting off at 1 minute intervals and I think spectators will be staggered at the rate these athletes will complete the ascent. After competing, Wendy has also agreed to present the prizes in the Village Hall at 2.0pm.

To give non-competitive cyclists and families a chance to take in the atmosphere the Club has organised the untimed Porlock Pedal starting at 1pm and casually cycling the 2 mile distance up to the Toll House. Entries are £2 per rider and anyone wishing to take part will need to sign in on the day at the Village Hall before the event. Any type of bike will be acceptable, even trikes and electric ones.”

Porlock Hill Climb