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The Ascutney Okemo Leg Busting Loop (with pics)

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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 Ascutney Okemo Leg Busting Loop (with pics)

Old 07-07-08, 02:28 PM
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The Ascutney Okemo Leg Busting Loop (with pics)

I have always been a mileage junkie, challenging myself with difficult climbing rides. Unfortunately, my coach has me doing more short high intensity and less endurance...

He did have a 4 hour Hilly Endurance ride on my schedule for today. I have been looking forward to it for some time and trying to find the best way to torture myself...

I decided to do the Ascutney, Tyson Rd, Okemo Loop and it was a leg buster...

STATS: 64.41 miles with 7963 ft of climbing (Garmin total)...

It was foggy and cool to start and I was worried I would be cold but that was not to be...

I did a short warm up and then started Ascutney . 3.6 miles at 12% average grade. I kept it at Tempo pace knowing what was coming later in the day. I passed a guy on his bike weaving up the road with a little dog following him. I felt worse for the dog than the guy suffering on the bike. I finished Ascutney with a respectable time (3:30 off race pace)...

After shooting a picture at the top, I missed my back pocket and dropped the camera. The LCD screen is smashed but it still takes pictures...

After a quick stop at the car to get two fresh water bottles and my CamelBak with 72 oz of water, I was off for Okemo...

Before reaching Okemo you have to climb over Tyson Rd. A respectable little climb but nothing as steep as what was coming...

When I reached Okemo, the sun was out and I was baking. It was hot and humid. This is a 3.8 mile climb with an average grade of 11%. I knew I was in trouble right away. The power was not there. I SUFFERED up the climb, often thinking about bailing out and often thinking of tossing my cookies. I struggled on, at a slow pace, looking for shade. When I reached the top, I let out a scream but knew I had 20+ miles back to the car. My time was TWELVE MINUTES off race pace. Oh man, it hurt...

I limped home, and survived. I am satisfied I finished in the Mountains but “no matter how often you climb them; you never win”...

Elevation profile...




Elevation/Grade profile...




Morning coffee at the General Store...




A crowded dashboard. I added the Garmin just for this ride...




Ascutney Mountain...




Entrance to Pain...




On top of Ascutney. Low clouds in the valleys. Last picture before I dropped the camera...




Hammertoe on top of Ascutney...

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Old 07-07-08, 02:30 PM
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Tyson Road...




Echo Lake...




Okemo Looming...




Okemo Mountain Road just ends...




Views from the top of Okemo. The first picture shows the whole ride. Ascutney is the pointy mountain way off to the center right...







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Old 07-07-08, 02:30 PM
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Was that a triple I see!!
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Old 07-07-08, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by DZA_LA View Post
Was that a triple I see!!
Looks like he's got an XT or XTR rear derailleur and a beast of a cassette on there too.

I'd be all over a triple if I had to do a ride that featured 20% grades.
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Old 07-07-08, 02:36 PM
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Yes...

48/38/26 with a 11/34 cassette...

I certainly could not even consider climbing these Mountains with less....



And please do not insult me with this triple cr@p...
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Old 07-07-08, 02:49 PM
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Hammertoe: do you have the map data from the Garmin? I'd love to see how you laid out the route.
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Old 07-07-08, 02:53 PM
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righteous!! I used to live 20 miles from Ascutney. Your pics make me miss the place. That is one helluva ride! beer
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Old 07-07-08, 03:01 PM
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great report and pics.
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Old 07-07-08, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by songfta View Post
Hammertoe: do you have the map data from the Garmin? I'd love to see how you laid out the route.
It is listed here. Scroll down "Select Climb(s)" to VT - Ascutney-Okemo. Click the box then "Show Climb"...

https://www.northeastcycling.com/gpx_loader.html


Originally Posted by blanqui View Post
righteous!! I used to live 20 miles from Ascutney. Your pics make me miss the place. That is one helluva ride! beer
Thanks...

I am incredibly lucky to live and ride here!!!
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Old 07-07-08, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Hammertoe View Post
Yes...

48/38/26 with a 11/34 cassette...

I certainly could not even consider climbing these Mountains with less....



And please do not insult me with this triple cr@p...

Easy PlayBoy...
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Old 07-07-08, 03:28 PM
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Cool report and pics, sorry about your camera.
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Old 07-07-08, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Hammertoe View Post
Yes...

48/38/26 with a 11/34 cassette...

I certainly could not even consider climbing these Mountains with less....


And please do not insult me with this triple cr@p...

I rode it last year with a 34 front and 27 rear......it hurt.....a lot. Was way off race pace.

Tell me you went to the harpoon brewery for some post-ride recovery beverages?
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Old 07-07-08, 03:53 PM
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Looks like a beautiful ride. You mention being 3+ minutes off race pace. I'm guessing you didn't include the time you stopped to snap all those pics (thanks for doing so, btw). Keep in mind that stopping for any period of time on a timed ride will effect the total time because of loss of momentum.

Now about that triple... I also do quite a bit of climbing where I live on the west coast, with a nearby mountain range (Santa Monica Mountains) that has many climbs (length and grade) similar to your ride above. One reason why I switched from a triple to a compact is because I realized I could condense my most used gear ratios into two chain rings (50/34) and a wider range cog (11-30). It simplified the whole shifting experience.

Since you are new to climbing, you'll probably discover after taking on those same climbs a few times that you can increase (less low) the gearing ratio. That 26/34 really is ultra low for that gradient and distance. Do that same ride a few times and you'll see what I mean. And you'll shave off lots of time!

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Old 07-07-08, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by KiddSisko View Post
Looks like a beautiful ride. You mention being 3+ minutes off race pace. I'm guessing you didn't include the time you stopped to snap all those pics (thanks for doing so, btw). Keep in mind that stopping for any period of time on a timed ride will effect the total time because of loss of momentum.
I took them on the way down...

Originally Posted by KiddSisko View Post
Now about that triple... I also do quite a bit of climbing where I live on the west coast, with a nearby mountain range (Santa Monica Mountains) that has many climbs (length and grade) similar to your ride above. One reason why I switched from a triple to a compact is because I realized I could condense my most used gear ratios into two chain rings (50/34) and a wider range cog (11-30). It simplified the whole shifting experience.
I do not think your 34/30 reaches as low as my 26/34...

I race these mountains and finish with a cadence of 94...

Originally Posted by KiddSisko View Post
Since you are new to climbing, you'll probably discover after taking on those same climbs a few times that you can increase (less low) the gearing ratio. That 26/34 really is ultra low for that gradient and distance. Do that same ride a few times and you'll see what I mean. And you'll shave off lots of time!

I am not new to climbing but thanks for the advice...

Again, I race these Mountains and recently finished top 20/250 (top 5 in age 40-49 age group) and top 10/55 (Podium in 40-49 age group)...

If your Mountains are similar grade come out East and pick up some hardware...
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Old 07-07-08, 04:32 PM
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Instead of giving you unsolicited advice, I'll do the simple thing and say thanks for the ride report. I always enjoy reading your reports, especially the ones involving hill climbs (anyone that has been around these parts for a bit knows you are an experienced climber). I think that I would need more than a triple to get up some of the hills you climb. I've got it decently flat here in KY (some small hills, but nothing worth writing home about). When I move in a few years, I hope to end up in in climbing country.

Cheers.
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Old 07-07-08, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Hammertoe View Post
I do not think your 34/30 reaches as low as my 26/34...

I race these mountains and finish with a cadence of 94...
Ah, high cadence seems to be the difference in this case.

Originally Posted by Hammertoe View Post
I am not new to climbing but thanks for the advice...
I obviously misread your initial post. My apologies.

Originally Posted by Hammertoe View Post
Again, I race these Mountains and recently finished top 20/250 (top 5 in age 40-49 age group) and top 10/55 (Podium in 40-49 age group)...

If your Mountains are similar grade come out East and pick up some hardware...
That is some fine racing indeed! The Santa Monica's are plenty challenging for most riders who enjoy climbing. And on the pro level - If they're challenging enough for Rock Racing, and as a home base for CSC in the winter... Tell you what though, we don't have charming general stores like that around here. Seeing that made me weepy for the N.E. states.
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Old 07-07-08, 04:38 PM
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Thank you Mr. do-well...

I am sure Kentucky has some beautiful riding as well...



Sorry to everyone...

I guess my panties are in a bunch because I am still decompressing from the hard ride...


Anyone else get irritable after a long ride???
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Old 07-07-08, 04:59 PM
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that looks like some beautiful scenery.
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Old 07-07-08, 06:12 PM
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awesome, I would need a 4th front chain ring, like a 19 and a 40 rear. lol
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Old 07-07-08, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by KiddSisko View Post
That is some fine racing indeed! The Santa Monica's are plenty challenging for most riders who enjoy climbing. And on the pro level - If they're challenging enough for Rock Racing, and as a home base for CSC in the winter... Tell you what though, we don't have charming general stores like that around here. Seeing that made me weepy for the N.E. states.

Again, sorry for being so jumpy...



To explain how steep these hills are...


Sierra Rd, one of the hardest climbs in the Tour of California, climbs 1,946 ft in 3.7 miles...

Old La Honda climbs 1290 ft in 3.37 miles...

I do not know if these are in your area...


Mt. Ascutney climbs 2266 ft in 3.7 miles...

Okemo climbs 2200 ft in 3.8 miles...


These hills are used for Mt. Washington training...

4727 ft of climbing in 7.6 miles...

39 training days left until the BIG race...
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Old 07-07-08, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Hammertoe View Post
Thank you Mr. do-well...

I am sure Kentucky has some beautiful riding as well...



Sorry to everyone...

I guess my panties are in a bunch because I am still decompressing from the hard ride...


Anyone else get irritable after a long ride???
Just looked at your great pix and thought the ride looked magnificent. As far as "advice" and ragging on you about a triple I'd be ticked off if I posted a cool ride like that and what I got was a "shoulda" and "coulda" in response.

I've ridden a lot of those roads and those climbs can be killer. I just did a Berkshire's hilly ride yesterday of about 44 miles and as gorgeous as it was and even comparing my times with rides 10 years ago on the same stretch I did just fine but the hills sometimes can make me feel discouraged or irritable after the ride just because I'm so wiped.

I end almost every ride with a one mile stretch that averages a 12% grade. I'm lucky if I can break 10 minutes on this climb and often barely manage to break 12 minutes. I, too, am riding a triple and if I have to drop into the smallest ring to crest the summit I used to think I'd failed- then I discovered some of my best times for the ascent were when I'd dropped into the small ring. When I get to the top of that 1 mile climb I've pretty much had it especially if I've done a long ride to that point. You were doing more than 3 x's the distance at that same grade!

I've got a ton of climbing under my belt both as a long distance tourist and racer and certainly find no shame in a triple- what a joke!
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Old 07-07-08, 06:35 PM
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nice one.

I like the photo of the "general store"

thanks
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Old 07-07-08, 10:21 PM
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Very nice ride report. Looks like you are getting well-prepared for Mt. Washington.
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Old 07-07-08, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Hammertoe View Post
Again, sorry for being so jumpy...



To explain how steep these hills are...


Sierra Rd, one of the hardest climbs in the Tour of California, climbs 1,946 ft in 3.7 miles...

Old La Honda climbs 1290 ft in 3.37 miles...

I do not know if these are in your area...


Mt. Ascutney climbs 2266 ft in 3.7 miles...

Okemo climbs 2200 ft in 3.8 miles...


These hills are used for Mt. Washington training...

4727 ft of climbing in 7.6 miles...

39 training days left until the BIG race...
Old La Honda and Sierra are Bay Area (NorCal) climbs - Old La Honda's not seen as too big a deal round here, but a good timing benchmark. Sierra commands respect though -- hope to try it out myself one of these days.

Nice ride report.
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Old 07-08-08, 03:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Hammertoe View Post
Again, sorry for being so jumpy...


To explain how steep these hills are...


Sierra Rd, one of the hardest climbs in the Tour of California, climbs 1,946 ft in 3.7 miles...

Old La Honda climbs 1290 ft in 3.37 miles...

I do not know if these are in your area...


Mt. Ascutney climbs 2266 ft in 3.7 miles...

Okemo climbs 2200 ft in 3.8 miles...


These hills are used for Mt. Washington training...

4727 ft of climbing in 7.6 miles...

39 training days left until the BIG race...
Very nice. Intense, yet brief. I'd love to ride those. Please send a ticket.

My immediate area has one of the highest elevations in the Santa Monica's on which you can ride - 2470 feet, on Saddle Peak (2800 feet). This stretch of the SM's borders the ocean, with many of the climbs beginning at sea level or close to it. The peaks and ridges are in the 2000+ foot range, with the highest at 3000 ft. I don't know the exact milage/grade comparisons, but I do know that many SM climbs are known for their sections of brutality. One being Las Flores Canyon, beginning at sea level, a whippy 6 mile ride to the top at 2370 feet, with an unrelenting 1+ mile long section of near 20 and over grade. Several of the intense SM climbs have an extended brutal section like that.

For more "traditional" climbs, which are in the 10+ mile length range, we have the San Gabriel Mountains 25 miles away. Stage 7 of Tour of California, which peaked at 4900 feet, went through a beloved section of the San Gabriels near Mt Wilson. Further east is Mt Baldy, ranked 11th "toughest" climb out of 100 US climbs, according to author John Summerson in his book about climbing. Mt Washington is #1.

With three options for climbing Baldy, I recently took one of the more scenic routes, which first takes you up to 3400 feet (10 miles in length, begins at 1100 feet), then rides along a ridge, ticking upward to 4500 feet, then a final pop up to 6400 feet ending at a ski lift parking lot. The peak itself is 10,064 feet. The "tough" version is a 13 mile route, more or less straight up beginning around 1600 feet.

My personal workout regimen of late is a daily 17 mile loop that includes 1500 feet of climbing. A 25 mile loop ride over Saddle Peak with 2800 total feet of climbing is also a frequent workout.

Have you climbed Mt Washington? If so, have you written about it here on BF? I'd like to read about that experience.
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