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The hardest climb you have ever made?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

The hardest climb you have ever made?

Old 11-14-20, 11:15 AM
  #126  
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
In the Pacific Northwest we have an annual “fun” ride which used to be a timed race. Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day (RAMROD) is a 154 mile (248 km) timed cycling event around Mount Rainier National Park, with approximately 10,000 feet (3,000 m) of climbing over two mountain passes with an average grade of 8.5%. I have ridden it twice. First was on my double chain ring 1987 Bianchi. The second was as a stoker on a racing tandem. We were the first tandem into the park, but was crushed by the other tandems piloted by Cat 1 types and were the last one out, except for 2 others. Climbing on a 55 lb tandem is absolutely brutal. Everyone loves to draft on the flats but then all the suckers pass on the climbs. It was fun on the descents blasting by everyone and watching them futility try to sprint to grab our wheel but never catching us. My max speed on any bike was descending the second pass at 62.5 MPH. it was scary fast.
Cayuse on our tandem in RAMROD '16 was my (our) hardest climb ever. Our team age was 136. It was 104° at the bottom and 87° at the top. Over 100 riders were sagged off the course that year. We were 15 hours on the course, just made the finish line before it closed. We had a 45' bike repair near the bottom of the pass, in the sun. That was brutal. An aid car stopped and tried to get us to hop in. Nope. We were gonna do it.

RAMROD hasn't been timed for decades, so your ride must have been a while ago. A modern fast tandem now weighs in the 20s. We had to stop timing it after a rider was killed on the descent you mention. Another was killed on it few years ago anyway. The first guy went off into the trees. The second we think had wheel wobble. The club has taken down all the web info associated with finishing times from the old days, trying to make it less competitive.
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Old 11-14-20, 11:40 AM
  #127  
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My first visit to this forum--I spend my time in Touring and Mechanics.

I've lived in Golden, CO for the last seven years. I attempt the climb Mt Evans (14,264'/4348 m) from my house at least once a year, and have made it twice. The route I take is 97 miles and 11,400' of climbing. I'm not proud of my pace--it's an eleven+ hour day for me. As others have noted, it's never steep, but it's long, and cycling over 13,000' (4000 m) seems a whole different world. Weather can get severe quickly, too. That makes it most difficult in my book. My style is to climb it unsupported, no stopping in Evergreen, even getting natural water from snowmelt above tree line. I was 63 years old on my last success this summer, and I plan to keep trying every year.
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Old 11-15-20, 10:20 PM
  #128  
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Cayuse on our tandem in RAMROD '16 was my (our) hardest climb ever. Our team age was 136. It was 104° at the bottom and 87° at the top. Over 100 riders were sagged off the course that year. We were 15 hours on the course, just made the finish line before it closed. We had a 45' bike repair near the bottom of the pass, in the sun. That was brutal. An aid car stopped and tried to get us to hop in. Nope. We were gonna do it.

RAMROD hasn't been timed for decades, so your ride must have been a while ago. A modern fast tandem now weighs in the 20s. We had to stop timing it after a rider was killed on the descent you mention. Another was killed on it few years ago anyway. The first guy went off into the trees. The second we think had wheel wobble. The club has taken down all the web info associated with finishing times from the old days, trying to make it less competitive.
My buddies in the Redmond Cycling Club told me how absolutely brutal the temps were that year. I’m sure glad I missed that one, but good on you for toughing it out. That ride certainly wasn’t any easier on my tandem compared to a single bike. Believe our combined age was 72, so I bow down to you.

However did STP in one day twice on it, and it was a pleasure in comparison. As you know you never get to draft, but all the other rides benefit. Never had the joy of drafting another tandem due to speed disparity.
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Old 11-15-20, 11:00 PM
  #129  
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
My buddies in the Redmond Cycling Club told me how absolutely brutal the temps were that year. I’m sure glad I missed that one, but good on you for toughing it out. That ride certainly wasn’t any easier on my tandem compared to a single bike. Believe our combined age was 72, so I bow down to you.

However did STP in one day twice on it, and it was a pleasure in comparison. As you know you never get to draft, but all the other rides benefit. Never had the joy of drafting another tandem due to speed disparity.
I still ride it on my single. Trying to work my way up to bib 1.

We did the one-day twice on our CoMo, the same year as RR and the year before. The year before was also brutally hot. Flatter ride, so we did much better, first ones on the Seattle bus. We flatted in the middle of the Longview bridge on one those. Memorable. We have drafted other tandems a lot, riding with Goosebumps which I led for many years, still hope to continue with that a little. .
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Old 11-15-20, 11:47 PM
  #130  
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I still ride it on my single. Trying to work my way up to bib 1.

We did the one-day twice on our CoMo, the same year as RR and the year before. The year before was also brutally hot. Flatter ride, so we did much better, first ones on the Seattle bus. We flatted in the middle of the Longview bridge on one those. Memorable. We have drafted other tandems a lot, riding with Goosebumps which I led for many years, still hope to continue with that a little. .
Wow, I am impressed you are still doing it. Memorable is not quite the word I had in mind for your flat. We had a front flat on the Alder cutoff Rd decent before the flats heading to Elbe. A front flat at 35 was interesting. We had it changed in less than 5 minutes. The tandem was a custom Celeste Rodriguez bought from R&E. If you stripped it to the frame it did weigh about 25, but the Dura Ace components of the day, including drag brake weighed a bit.

Very happy you are still at it and hope our paths cross.
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Old 11-16-20, 01:36 PM
  #131  
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I had an invite for RAMROD this year (hopefully it will run next year!), will be my 3rd time. It's a great ride.

Another Washington State climb that flies a little under the radar is the climb up onto Table Mountain, north of Ellensburg. Depending on where you start, it's a HC climb and once you get into the National Forest (where the road goes to a single lane) the grade is 8%+ for 8-9 miles. But the view is tremendous.


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Old 11-16-20, 05:01 PM
  #132  
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I ve done many climbs, but the single most hardest climbing I have ever done, was mountain gate in Los Angeles. Albeit, its only a half kilometer, but its the hardest steepest angle I have ever faced. 31% according to strava. Had to change my rear gearing just to be able to finish it. I actually just realized the below screenshot only shows the latter half of the climb, it actually starts all the way down by the highway (405). So its more like 1 kilometer of 31%
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Old 11-16-20, 11:28 PM
  #133  
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Originally Posted by woodway View Post
I had an invite for RAMROD this year (hopefully it will run next year!), will be my 3rd time. It's a great ride.

Another Washington State climb that flies a little under the radar is the climb up onto Table Mountain, north of Ellensburg. Depending on where you start, it's a HC climb and once you get into the National Forest (where the road goes to a single lane) the grade is 8%+ for 8-9 miles. But the view is tremendous.


Need to do that one. Sounds incredible and the ride down must be a blast.

Good on you for taking on RAMROD again. Every time I ride I swear it would be the last. I believe it is rated as one of the 10 toughest road bike events in the US. Don’t know where it is on the scale.
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Old 11-18-20, 06:46 PM
  #134  
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Mt Evans just nudges out Haleakala. Haleakala is longer distance and the net altitude change is more, but Mt Evans if you start from Idaho Springs you are starting at just about 7k feet, and end at I think 14,200. And when you get about two miles from the top you can see what appears to be a never ending stair step of switch backs, and oh btw someone has turned off the oxygen. And last, you can't bomb down from Evans summit because every 20 feet theres an inch wide crack in the asphalt. At 6 mph on the way up you don't notice it but if you get going fast enough you can trash a wheel, lose control and go over the edge......once you reach Echo Lake you can scream down to Idaho Springs.
Honorable mention to the climb from Red Lodge Montana to the Bear Tooth pass summit, its 37 m I think and the altitude change is about 6000 ft. Its made more interesting by unique weather, i e snow in August, and the off chance of meeting up with a grizzly- so you don't ride it alone because remember, I don't have to outrun the bear I just have to out run you.
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Old 11-22-20, 04:48 PM
  #135  
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Originally Posted by woodway View Post
I had an invite for RAMROD this year (hopefully it will run next year!), will be my 3rd time. It's a great ride.

Another Washington State climb that flies a little under the radar is the climb up onto Table Mountain, north of Ellensburg. Depending on where you start, it's a HC climb and once you get into the National Forest (where the road goes to a single lane) the grade is 8%+ for 8-9 miles. But the view is tremendous.


Finally did this climb this year. To me this may be the hardest climb in Washington that I've done, a real grindfest. I think it is a lot harder that McNeil Canyon or Hurricane Ridge (I haven't ridden Mission Ridge but have driven it plenty for snowboarding and that one looks harder), it feels a lot steeper than 8%. The wind didn't help especially on the decent which was scary towards the bottom. I need to revisit this in the spring and see if lower gearing can help. I find climbs that stay in the 4-6% range on good pavement fairly pleasant, you can get in a nice rhythm. Hurricane Ridge only gets hard if you ride near your limit the whole way, then the last few miles can hurt quite a bit.

Would really like to ride RAMROD one of these years. I've ridden the major climbs and none of them are daunting in and of themselves but the mileage is intimidating to me since around 110 or so miles is my one day max.
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Old 11-22-20, 05:20 PM
  #136  
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Originally Posted by oujeep1 View Post
Mt Evans just nudges out Haleakala. Haleakala is longer distance and the net altitude change is more, but Mt Evans if you start from Idaho Springs you are starting at just about 7k feet, and end at I think 14,200. And when you get about two miles from the top you can see what appears to be a never ending stair step of switch backs, and oh btw someone has turned off the oxygen. And last, you can't bomb down from Evans summit because every 20 feet theres an inch wide crack in the asphalt. At 6 mph on the way up you don't notice it but if you get going fast enough you can trash a wheel, lose control and go over the edge......once you reach Echo Lake you can scream down to Idaho Springs.
Honorable mention to the climb from Red Lodge Montana to the Bear Tooth pass summit, its 37 m I think and the altitude change is about 6000 ft. Its made more interesting by unique weather, i e snow in August, and the off chance of meeting up with a grizzly- so you don't ride it alone because remember, I don't have to outrun the bear I just have to out run you.
I'd flip these. I've only ridden either once and Mt. Evans was from Evergreen although I doubt there is a big difference between the Idaho Springs start since the hard part seems to be once you get to Echo Lake. There was wind above tree line so when you had it at your back you could spin easily but when it was in your face it was tough. I felt pretty good until Summit Lake where I took a short break and was joined by a local for the last few miles. I was in pretty good spirits since this was the last day of a week long bike ride and Mt. Evans had been one of the main reasons for driving 1300 miles to get here. The weather had been real wet the day before and rain had been threatening all day but now it pretty much a given that we'd make it to the top. The majority of riders had skipped it and headed back to Idaho Springs to the finish of the ride. I was chatting with the local rider until about 2 miles to go when I pretty much had to put all my energy into keeping up and breathing. He was on his daily commuter and continued to chat away while I wondered if the end was going to ever come. At one point you think you are very near the top only to see a switchback well above you, but we made it and I didn't feel much worse for the wear once we stopped for the photo ops. The decent to Echo Lake is jarring and there are a couple sections where there is no guardrail and a long drop off that felt pretty scary with the wind and cars.

On the other hand the last 3000' on Haleakala were pretty tough, I started cramping after leaving the visitors center so I couldn't get out of the saddle or it got worse, just had to sit and turn the pedals over carefully to avoid them. On the rental bike without my own saddle (bad choice not to bring) my behind was as sore as I can ever remember. The combination of unrelenting climb, humidity, heat and altitude makes Haleakala the hardest climb I've ever done. If you were better acclimated or one of these riders that can get up it in under 4 hours, some even under 3, then it might not be that bad.

As has been pointed out a lot depends on factors like road surface, weather, fatigue, load, altitude etc. I've only dabbled in racing but I've suffered on very short easy climbs trying to keep up with stronger riders, also climbs that come at the end of a hard century can be disheartening. Reading some of the stories posted here about some of the extreme conditions people have dealt with is inspiring but doesn't necessarily make me want ride some far flung dirt climb when hungry, wet and gasping for air.
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Old 11-22-20, 08:12 PM
  #137  
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Originally Posted by busygizmo View Post
To me this may be the hardest climb in Washington that I've done, a real grindfest. I think it is a lot harder that McNeil Canyon or Hurricane Ridge (I haven't ridden Mission Ridge but have driven it plenty for snowboarding and that one looks harder), it feels a lot steeper than 8%. The wind didn't help especially on the decent which was scary towards the bottom.
According to the old site "bicycleclimbs.com" that maps and categorizes most of the climbs in Washington State: " To date the longest hard climb listed in Wa. There are longer climbs and steeper climbs but nothing else listed this steep and continious[sic].". I've done all the climbs you listed and would call this one the most difficult. The grade goes higher than 8% in many places, but never really goes below 8% till you get within a couple miles of the end of the pavement. The descent is no picnic either because of the grade, switchback and cattle guards at the bottom. You'll want to check your brake pads before taking on this ride.

I did this ride four times this year but could not get to the end of the pavement until July due to snow.
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Old 11-22-20, 09:46 PM
  #138  
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It is a little farther from evergreen to the Evans turnoff but not much. I hadn't thought about it but not having my own bike does make Haleakala tougher. And anyone that can get up Haleakala in under 3 hours is way out of my league.
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Old 11-22-20, 11:41 PM
  #139  
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Originally Posted by woodway View Post
According to the old site "bicycleclimbs.com" that maps and categorizes most of the climbs in Washington State: " To date the longest hard climb listed in Wa. There are longer climbs and steeper climbs but nothing else listed this steep and continious[sic].". I've done all the climbs you listed and would call this one the most difficult. The grade goes higher than 8% in many places, but never really goes below 8% till you get within a couple miles of the end of the pavement. The descent is no picnic either because of the grade, switchback and cattle guards at the bottom. You'll want to check your brake pads before taking on this ride.

I did this ride four times this year but could not get to the end of the pavement until July due to snow.
This may one of the closest big climb in terms of driving times from Seattle I've found, I know there are some climbs on the east side of Lake Washington but the traffic is always a bit intimidating to me. Need to plan a 2 or 3 day trip and include this with the climbs around Wenatchee.

Thanks for pointing out that listing on BicycleClimbs.com, I'd never thought to click on "Flatlands" in the pull down menu. I heard about it on a message board, and also a blog post by guide book author Mike McQuaide. To me sustained climbs like this are the hardest. We were over in Italy a couple of years ago riding the climbs featured in the Maratona dles Dolomites and our final ride took us over the "easy" side of the Passo di Giau and then down the "hard" side. The descent was ridiculous to me, had to stop a couple times to make sure the rims weren't getting too hot. I thought it would be a difficult climb to ascend. This climb is what I imagine that one would be like albeit with a rougher road. Distance and grade are very similar. I don't like steep descents in general and this one is narrow with lots of potholes and loose gravel. But it is amazing how quickly you gain altitude and get into the trees. I would also like to ride it without all the truck traffic we experianced with folks setting up for the upcoming hunting season and gathering firewood. Folks were mostly very friendly and patient but it's barely wide enough to squeeze a big truck and bike onto the asphalt.

I wish there were more of these paved forest service roads with long climbs in Washington. I know there are a few shorter ones out of Winthrop and elsewhere.
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Old 11-22-20, 11:54 PM
  #140  
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Originally Posted by oujeep1 View Post
It is a little farther from evergreen to the Evans turnoff but not much. I hadn't thought about it but not having my own bike does make Haleakala tougher. And anyone that can get up Haleakala in under 3 hours is way out of my league.
Flying my bike to Hawaii when I was only going to ride one day wasn't worth the effort or expense, I should however have brought my saddle. My partner didn't bring her saddle because she didn't really like it that much. Luckily for her the rental bike had the most comfortable saddle she'd ever ridden on, the bike shop said that women really liked the RavX model they used. We were able to track one down for her own bike.

Sub 4 hour seems like you'd need to be very strong, under 3 you're pushing into pro rider territory with World Tour riders pushing 2-1/2 hours.
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Old 11-23-20, 12:30 AM
  #141  
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Originally Posted by busygizmo View Post
I wish there were more of these paved forest service roads with long climbs in Washington.
Get a bike with super-low gears and super-fat tires and do the unpaved ones. There are tons and tons of excellent gravel climbs in the 1000'-3000' range on the west side of the mountains, loaded with incredible views.
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Old 11-23-20, 09:25 AM
  #142  
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Originally Posted by busygizmo View Post
Flying my bike to Hawaii when I was only going to ride one day wasn't worth the effort or expense, I should however have brought my saddle. My partner didn't bring her saddle because she didn't really like it that much. Luckily for her the rental bike had the most comfortable saddle she'd ever ridden on, the bike shop said that women really liked the RavX model they used. We were able to track one down for her own bike.

Sub 4 hour seems like you'd need to be very strong, under 3 you're pushing into pro rider territory with World Tour riders pushing 2-1/2 hours.
I brought my own saddle, and my stem, just in case. I ended up using what came on the bike. It was uncomfortable by the time I got to the top, but after 5+ hours of climbing I’m pretty sure that would have been the case with any equipment.
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Old 11-23-20, 09:41 AM
  #143  
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Old 11-23-20, 09:06 PM
  #144  
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Get a bike with super-low gears and super-fat tires and do the unpaved ones. There are tons and tons of excellent gravel climbs in the 1000'-3000' range on the west side of the mountains, loaded with incredible views.
This is next on the agenda, we're hoping to sell our older road bikes and replace them with ones that accept larger tires for just that purpose. I assume we'll enjoy the adventure and quieter backroads but I really enjoy riding on roads, especially on good surfaces. We've rented mountain bikes and really enjoyed riding on forest service roads but weren't as excited by more technical single track.
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Old 11-30-20, 02:02 AM
  #145  
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I did the 7 Peaks Challenge in 2011.
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And I've cycled up Tasmania's Mt Wellington a couple times.
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Old 11-30-20, 11:04 AM
  #146  
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Originally Posted by jleeg View Post

Did this in the 90s. Last 30 miles are uphill but for a short break.
Well, there you go. I did this 5 years ago on the 40th anniversary of the event. Brutal. I have summited like 5 times but from various starting points but then finally did the whole event. Those are some long climbs for those of us in the east that do not have the Rockies. Not to mention that it rained or should I say down poured from Marion all the way to the entrance of Mt Mitchell State park. Rained so hard it shorted out my front light. That is a day I will never forget. At least I got the medal and photos to prove it.
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Old 12-01-20, 03:55 AM
  #147  
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Climbing out of bed for day two of a 600k ride after 30 minutes of sleep.
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Old 12-28-20, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by znomit View Post
Climbing out of bed for day two of a 600k ride after 30 minutes of sleep.
hahaha, this reminds me of this morning when I got out of bed after running 50km in 2 days of mountains running
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Old 12-28-20, 01:53 PM
  #149  
dilbert2000
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Mt. Washington New Hampshire.
Only 7.6 miles.
No flat spots.
Average grade of 12%.
About a mile over 16%.
The final few hundred feet are 22%.
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Old 12-29-20, 12:55 PM
  #150  
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To me, there are four ways to look at this:

1. HC Rating – This would be the traditional way to assess the most difficult. For me, this for me would be Mt. Evans from Idaho Springs. Unlike from Evergreen/Conifer, the back side is a slog to climb, with less I would call them guideposts up to the lake and lodge to give a sense of progress. The climb itself, especially for someone like me who likes to get into rhythms and just spin up, is not as difficult for me, except once you get to the top, and the altitude just saps you of all of your energy.



2. Painful – for me, the Fearsome Foursome around Boulder is the most difficult set of climbs, especially Magnolia Road, which may be the most difficult main climb along the front range.





3. Failure – many may not have this on their list, but on a rainy day, on a rented bike, I tried to climb to the top of Burke Mountain near Saint Johnsbury, VT, and on one of the steepest sections, I literally kept falling off the bike and the bald tire just kept spinning out. I had already crashed crossing railroad tracks on the way, and the already painful bruised collarbone and continued inability to climb of Burke Mountain made this a climb of shame.



4. Local Slog – this would be to me that local climb, that you just hate doing, even if not the longest or most difficult. There is a local climb to the top of a reservoir on Hess Road outside of Parker, CO that, due to the lack of tree cover, high speed traffic and a sun baked straight climb at a gradient that is just steep enough to be a little painful, and it is a climb I do, but I hate it. I really dread the climb.
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