It’s been nearly five years since The Climbing Cyclist began. Back then, it was a simple WordPress.com blog (have a look here) that I started for a university assignment. I had only just gotten into road cycling and I enjoyed riding in the hills, but I couldn’t find any detailed information about where the good climbs were, what those climbs were like, and what to expect when riding them. So I started this site.
In almost five years of working on The Climbing Cyclist, I’ve added 35 climb guides around Victoria — less than I probably would have hoped, if I’m honest. Of course the site has grown in other ways in that time, including with the blog and with events that I’ve organised in conjunction with Andy van Bergen of Hells 500. I’m definitely proud of how far the site has come in that time.
But it’s time to do things a little differently.
Ever since I started this site I’ve been getting emails from people saying “why don’t you add this climb?” or “when are you going to document this climb?” and the answer I always give is “I’d love to, when I have time”. The reality is that the site’s growth (as a climbing resource) has been stifled by me not having the time to get out there and research more climbs and write them up. And they’re not easy to do — I’d estimate each guide takes about four hours to put together.
In speaking with Andy van Bergen and David Blom — whom I worked with on the Tour of Australia, the Dirty Dozen and who put together the ridiculously detailed state and territory maps you see here — it became clear that it was time to open up the site to allow everyone to add their own climbs.
I started building a section of the site that would allow people to send in their climb guide which I’d then publish, but I soon realised I’d run into the same problem as before — I would still be the road block. The answer, I quickly realised, was to open things up completely. Create a place where anyone and everyone can add their own climbs, to help create a resource that will help all cyclists that like riding uphill.
And so The Climbing Cyclist Wiki was born.
The wiki is still in its infancy but there’s already more than a dozen climb guides there for you to check out and add to. Some of them are very basic, but that’s the whole point of a wiki — you start with the basics, then gradually build up and refine the content until you get something that’s informative, accurate and, ultimately in this case, useful for cyclists.
I see many advantages in continuing to develop this resource as a wiki. For a start, it removes me from the process, which has proven to slow things down over the years. I’ll certainly be helping out and adding climbs of my own, but I don’t need to do everything now. Second, it removes the geographic constraints that have stopped this site becoming a resource for all of Australia and beyond. That is, I don’t have to travel in order to research and write up climb guides — someone with local knowledge can do it (and will do a better job than I ever could).
There’s no reason that we can’t have climbs on there from all around the world, and indeed I’m hoping that’s exactly what will happen. If you’ve ever looked at The Climbing Cyclist and found it a useful resource, or read a blog post here and enjoyed it, I’d love it if you considered adding a climb to the wiki. You don’t need to add every single bit of information; just get the ball rolling and someone can jump in later and add to what you’ve done. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to add a new climb.
You know that feeling you get when family or friends come to town and you play tour guide for the day? It’s a kind of pride you get in showing off your part of the world. You might have even had that while cycling, showing your out-of-town mates some of your favourite roads. That’s what this wiki is about. We want you to feel a sense of pride in showing off your favourite climbs and making it easier for visitors, new cyclists or anyone really, to experience the joys of cycling uphill in your neck of the woods.
You might be reading this and thinking that there are similar sites out there already, like Climbbybike, or Cycle2Max or even Strava, but I’d argue this resource is different. By using a wiki format, we’ll be able to build each climb guide over time so that they provide a level of depth that’s not possibly with any of those sites. It’s more than just climb lengths, gradients, profiles and starting points, it’s information about what the climb is like, what famous races have been on those climbs, what to look out for on the descents, whether the road is closed in winter, and anything else that is relevant to a cyclist taking on that climb.
There are also a number of really cool features that I think will help bring this information to life. Check out the page for climbs in Victoria, for example. Whenever someone adds a Victorian climb to the wiki, that map and table will be updated right away with an entry for the new climb, including a coloured pin for the map, determined by the climb’s categorisation. Pages like that can be added for every region, state and country on the wiki.
As mentioned, this whole project is in its infancy and there are things that can be done better. So as you’re taking a look at the wiki have a think about how things could be improved and if you’ve got any suggestions, please feel free to get in touch via email. Of course, if there’s something you want to change about a particular climb guide, or if you want to add to one, please do! This page will get you started.
You might be asking “so what happens to this website now?” and that would be a good question. TCC will certainly still exist, and the climb guides on the site will continue to exist, but when it comes to adding new climb guides and developing that resource, I’ll be focusing my energy on the wiki. I’ll still be blogging at TCC and I’ll certainly still organise rides and events in future.
A big thank you to Dave and Andy for their help so far, and to the rest of the guys that took the time to help me with initial testing of the wiki. It’s obviously got a ways to go, but I think we’re heading in the right direction.
Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll check out the wiki and add a climb or two!
Matt de Neef