Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    248
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    tougher climb than Fiddlers Elbow in NJ?

    I tried a new candidate for toughest climb on asphalt in the state of New Jersey:
    Breakneck -- way up north near Vernon [ see map ]

    Thanks to David G for suggesting it to me.
    Felt at least as tough as the notorious Fiddlers Elbow climb (way out west between Belvidere + Washington - see map). But that was on a hot day in full sun, and my first time trying it, so might not feel quite so hard a second or third time on a cooler cloudier day. (Fiddlers also feels pretty overwhelming to most people their first time). Somebody who's done both several times could give a better opinion.
    Also very helpful is if somebody has some accurate elevation : distance measurements for Breakneck they could post here or send my by Private Message. By "accurate" I'm thinking like using a (expensive) GPS with a barometric altimeter, or a non-GPS bicycle cyclometer with altimeter (not from topo software, and not from a GPS lacking a barometric altimeter, because GPS units generally do not measure altitude really accurately).
    I like Fiddlers Elbow better than Breakneck, because I did not like the sharp curve in the midst of the steepest section on Breakneck Rd, and seemed like lots more car traffic than Fiddlers -- so more car drivers that might not see me as they come around that corner.The climbing felt so hard right then, I was thinking about what if I fell off my bike there and a car came around the corner while I was lying on the pavement still trying to get up.Also I like it that Fiddlers has much more shade. But one way they're the same is that their asphalt has coarser stones than most New Jersey roads, so the climbing requires more effort than you'd estimate from knowing the steepness grade. For now I've put them on the steep climbs of NJ list in a tie for 1st.

    details: I got the maximum amount of climbing by starting below Breakneck Rd, first on Vernon Crossing (rt 644), then rt 515, which joins rt 94 for a short ways, then continue on rt 515 south (becomes Stockholm Rd), then in the midst of a steep-ish climbing section, I made a left turn (across traffic) onto Breakneck Rd going east -- which starts moderate, feels like a relief from rt 515. Then it gets real steep, then a little less steep, then really really steep. Warning sign at the top says 25% grade. (though I kinda doubt it's 25% for more than a short section) -- I'd easily believe there's a sustained section at least 20% grade, and lower down a section at least 16% grade.

    Feeling lucky to have made it to the top, I didn't want to go back down a road that steep, so instead I rode south along the Wawayanda ridge on rt 638, then turned right onto rt 515 north back down to Vernon (rt 515 had a warning sign for 17% grade) -- to me it felt like the sustained steepness on 515 was more like 13%, which was plenty thrilling enough to go down.

    There are some other interesting climbs around Vernon, connected by some pleasant, pretty roads [see report], I did about five of them as warmups for Breakneck, one afterward (which hurt).

    Ken
    Last edited by Ken Roberts; 07-21-08 at 09:53 AM. Reason: fix a couple of words

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    248
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Out riding in the warm weather, I rode up Breakneck again a couple of times -- after warm-up climbs on some other steep hills around Vernon NJ. I found a way to ride around between 6 very steep climbs around there - (with little use of high-speed high-traffic Rt 94). Here's a
    map of steep climbs around Vernon + Breakneck
    also I've now listed my NJ steep climbs separately for each county, so like here's a list of
    Sussex county steep climbs

    I also tried measuring the steepness of Breakneck and some other climbs by using a special GPS unit with a barometric altimeter (because normal GPS units are not very accurate for altitude, and thus not accurate for steepness). I took four different data track sets for Breakneck. When I looked at each one individually it looked excellent: complete coverage of the whole climb, no funny jumps or spikes in elevation -- felt like at last by using a special GPS, I now had "the truth" about steepness.

    But when I compared the steepness grades I calculated from two different track data sets, I got different grade numbers for some of the segments of the climb. Like one data set might show 14.2% grade, another one 15.8%. (Same sort of thing on other climbs where I captured GPS multiple data sets).
    Not like the two data sets are telling a totallly different story (since both 14.2 and 15.8% are very steep) -- but not leaving me the comfort of feeling that I know "the truth".
    And not making me optimistic that using a barometric altimeter will "settle" the question of whether Breakneck is harder than Fiddlers Elbow.
    My advice: before believing what your GPS tells you about steepness, try it again two more times on the same hill, and try downhill as well as uphill.

    Ken
    Last edited by Ken Roberts; 10-10-08 at 10:00 AM. Reason: fix a couple words + added a link

  3. #3
    peaced out deez's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    670
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Breakneck road is pretty awesome. there's been some spectacular car wrecks up there over the years. About 15 years ago a school bus flipped on that road carrying kids up to ski at Hidden Valley. I still avoid it in my car, but never really considered it on my bike.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    248
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Wow - I didn't know about that. The lower section up to Hidden Valley isn't even the steepest part. But with ice and snow on it, I can easily believe it could happen.

    Lots of other people do not avoid in their car. Which definitely changes the feeling of climbing it, especially as you visualized cars overtaking you as you're losing strength in the steepest section and coming into that curve to the right.

    Avoiding Breakneck while bicycling is a smart thing for most people.

    Ken

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    248
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    comparing numbers Breakneck vs Fiddlers Elbow

    Over the weekend I got to visit Fiddlers Elbow and gathered some track data sets using my GPS unit with barometric altimeter.
    The data from it had the usual kinds of messiness you get with data measured from the real physical world (as they did for Breakneck). I ended up with four reasonable track data sets for each of Breakneck and Fiddlers (and I've also looked at data for both from PC-based topo software and websites like Google Earth and some bicycling websites).
    Breakneck versus Fiddlers:
    * Fiddlers is a little steeper in its steepest section.
    * Breakneck is a little steeper in the longer section that leads up to and includes the steepest.
    * there's other factors to consider.

    So I guess if you want the bragging rights to conquering the toughest paved hill in New Jersey, you have to climb both.

    steepest section: the calculations from the Fiddlers data sets came in around 20-21% grade for about 130 vertical feet. Breakneck data sets were around 19-20% for about 120 vert ft.

    longer section containing steepest: the calculations from the Breakneck data sets gave around 15% for about 340 vertical ft (though data from some topo websites + software came to more like 16%). Calculations from Fiddlers data sets gave around mid-13% for about 450 vert ft (though data from some topo websites or software came to 14%)

    first time: The steepest section of Fiddlers as positioned to take you by surprise (at least it surprised me my first time). But then you see what it is and make a decision: just give up and walk, or go for it. But on Breakneck the steepest section goes directly into a curve to the right which you can't see around, so when you "go for it", you can't know yet how big "it" is. Having cars on the road with you adds seriousness to the decision and seriousness to the lack of knowledge about what's around that curve.

    climbs nearby: If you're looking for more of that (ridiculous) 18-22% stuff, right next to Breakneck there's Hidden Valley which contains four other super-steep shots. The region around Fiddlers has lots of interesting steep climbs, but not much else in that steepness range -- except maybe a little section on Wester-Decker.

    Ken
    Last edited by Ken Roberts; 10-13-08 at 12:54 PM. Reason: fix a couple words

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    274
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Would Hidden Valley be the original Great Gorge?

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    248
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by cleansheet View Post
    Would Hidden Valley be the original Great Gorge?
    If you're talking about downhill ski resorts, I don't know anything about the history in that area.

    To me "Hidden Valley" is just a sign and a parking lot partway up Breakneck Rd. And then I found there was a road that went past the parking lot called Curtis Drive (with two short super-steep uphill shots) and then later that leads to another road called Hidden Valley Dr (with two more steep shots). I haven't noticed any ski trails while riding on those roads -- but from a distance down in the valley I've seen that there are ski trails there.

    Ken

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •