Scottish Climbs: The Suie, Aberdeenshire

This post was sent to me by Ali McGill of the Deeside Thistle Cycling Club in Aberdeen. He’s also MD of Freelance World, who provides accounting services in Aberdeen and sponsors the Deeside Thistle.

Most cyclists in Scotland will have heard of the Cairn o’ Mount and think that’s the main climb in Aberdeenshire [actually I hadn’t! another one to add to the list– ed]. And whilst it is the LONGEST climb, it can’t claim to be the toughest. That accolade goes to The Suie, but you probably haven’t heard of it!

And that’s no surprise, ‘cos it’s tucked away in northern Aberdeenshire, just outside the village of Kennethmont a handful of miles beyond Insch.

From Kennethmont take a left for the village of Clatt – even this road is tough, it’s just a slog up the exposed road where you’ll be buffeted by sidewinds on all but the best of days.

The Suie teases you with a gentle downhill ride out of Clatt, and within a mile you’re at the base of the climb. None of your poncy Euro-climbs here, the Suie eschews those sexy and photogenic hairpins for a quintessentially Scottish approach. It’s half a mile straight up at about 7% before you get to the right hand “hairpin” where it gets steeper for the next half mile to the top.

It’s less Alpe D’Huez and more “Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough”. When we rode up there in the club reliability last month, we hit the foot of the climb all together, feeling pretty pleased with ourselves and our average 20+mph for the 46 miles so far. Then the Suie bared its’ teeth.

It was carnage. Bodies everywhere. I could hear the support car behind me as I ground the granny gear painfully and slowly round and round. Someone behind me was yapping away – how the hell could he do that when I was dying on this brute of a climb. I looked round and he was holding onto the bloody car! That’s the way to climb the Suie.

The first time I rode up her, back in 2007, I had to stop half way up. After a gel and a drink I realised that stopping had been a very bad idea – From a standing start I just couldn’t make the bike go up, it was too bloody steep. I had to ride down, turn, and then slowly, very slowly, grind my way back up.

Nothing prepares you for the Suie. Those hairpin climbs allow for some respite, but the Suie just punches you in the face and says “come on then”! Your legs will scream and the sense of satisfaction when you reach the summit is immense.

Then it’s a 3 mile ride town to the village of Tullynessle and it’s pretty much straight down. No frills here, this is Scottish cycling summed up in one mighty hill.

Many thanks to Ali for the above post. Apparently the Kellog’s Tour of Britain once rode over it, but I have been unable to find any information on that.

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