There is definitely a hint of spring in the air. It's still cold, but nothing like the ice and snow of a few weeks ago. So today, I decided to make a pilgrimage to the only climb anywhere near where I live that comes close to reproducing some of the feel of an Alpine col.
The climb up from West Dean village to the top of West Dean hill has lots of the characteristics found in the Alps. It's just a lot shorter. It's over 20 miles from where I live, so there is plenty of opportunity to warm up, and plenty of shorter climbs on the way to keep things interesting.
Leaving West Dean, the road kicks up for a short distance, hitting 8% or so before flattening out at a road junction. Turning onto the hill, the gradient starts out at a fairly comfortable 5 or 6% for a kilometer or so, until a hairpin is reached, leading onto a ramp of about 0.5 km. At this point the road kicks immediately up to 10% and stays there for a while, before gradually steepening, reaching 14% for the last third or so. As the gradient eases at the top, the road swings left before plunging down the far side. Reaching the top, I turned round and headed back. The round trip is nearly 45 miles, quite enough for an early season ride. It's a great climb, though.