Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Favorite Climbs

Having posted the gmap of my ride in Vermont, it got me thinking about some of my favorite climbs/descents. I like riding in Vermont because I like hilly riding, even mountainous riding. The riding I do in Philly isn't flat, but it's not at the Vermont level.

Except for the Schuylkill river path. That's flat.

There are hills on all my other rides, though. Rides tend to be rolling. What I miss is that long-term, you're-gonna-be-here-a-while climbs. And I miss the downhills, too. I'm a woos on the downhills, but I still miss them.

Some of my favorite rides/descents are up by my mom's place in Vermont. But my favorite riding was when I lived in Berkeley. That was just amazing riding, right out the door. (It's right out the door at Mom's, too, but that's all there is there).

I didn't make a very good Californian, but I loved the riding.

This was the start of my bread-and-butter.

Up Spruce, over Grizzly Peak. For the whole ride, I usually continued over to Claremont and down into Oakland. Only wound up at 17 miles, but always felt like a great workout. I also went up Euclid a lot, which is "parallel" to Spruce (neither is particularly straight, though). Spruce is a bit more gradual, Euclid a bit steeper. I'm guessing I did around 60% Spruce, 40% Euclid. Of course, there was always the option of going straight up Marin:

I did that once. A lot of people do it once.

On longer rides, towards the end was my favorite climb – Pinehurst, from Canyon to Skyline. I always liked the names involved there. Pinehurst means nothing, but Canyon and Skyline are just the kind of roads they sound like. (Although, earlier in those rides, I was often on "Happy Valley" road, which is neither). I think in all the times I rode Pinehurst I saw 3 cars. There's just something cool about riding up a switchback.


In Vermont, most of my rides involve route 132, between South Strafford and Sharon. South Strafford is around 400 feet higher than Sharon, but it's actually the ride to Sharon that's harder. Sharon to the top, it's just kind of a slog, but never really steep. It even feels kind of flat in the middle of the climb. Going out of mom's village, it just climbs right away.

Then there's the climb between Bethel and Rochester. That's on another level. I did this last year as an out-and-back. The start of the descent into Bethel is the only time I've ever reached 50mph on my bike.

I've never walked my bike up any of these routes. I'm proud of that. I did walk my bike down Claremont once, but that was because of a flat tire. The closest I came was last summer, heading toward Rochester, when I had to stop a couple times and catch my breath.

None of these are the Alps, none are the Pyrenees, none of these would get me the polka-dot jersey. But the feeling of accomplishment of making it to the top of these climbs is hard to beat.

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