Friday, June 8, 2007

Steep Hills

Ben and I spent the day tooling around the north east-ish part of Spokane and the Valley. The picture there is on an old blocked off piece of road that runs between Evergreen and Sullivan just south of Trent.

I showed Ben one of my favorite climbs: Lehman road on the bit between Wellesley and Bigalow Gulch. That's a hard hill and it got me thinking of other short and steep hard hills in the area:
  • There's Forker, off of Progress and up to Pleasant Prairie. That's next to the Lehman climb, but much less enjoyable due to gobs of traffic.
  • Greenwood, from Gov't Way up to Rimrock. That's a lung burner.
  • Monroe Street from 4th to 8th: a short and steep climb.
  • Tower Mountain: prolonged pain; actually all those little mountains there have some insanely steep parts. I think it's 44th AVE off of Glenrose that just basically goes straight up for that last 200 yards before you hit the private property wall at the top of Browns? mountain.
  • The last mile or so going west bound on the Springdale-Hunters pass. This is a classic; because it's a hard climb for the 10 miles before this and this last mile is just flippin hard.
  • That little chunk of Maple St b/t 16th and 19th. If you don't ride this, then you're probably thinking of the wrong piece of street. It's a weird diagonal offshoot from highdrive. And it's damn steep.

I'm sure I'm missing a bunch; but these are the ones I ride sort of regularly; at least a couple times a year each. I don't know how steep they are, but they are severe.

Hills and cycling are fun to talk about. And it's interesting to see how cyclists evolve with regard to hills.

Here's how I did it.

When I didn't ride much, hills were all I focused on: where are the hills, how hard are they? Lots of flat rides and rail trails.

Then I started riding a bit and I figured hills are just part of it, but they still sucked and I went through huge efforts to avoid them; long routes around the steep hills.

I rode enough and eventually I had what I call my "hill epiphany." It was on an unexpected long steep hill near the end of a long day of touring. I just put my head down, started spinning, and got into the zone. For me it happened here: about 5 miles of very steep grade on a hot summer day with a fully loaded bike.

After the epiphany, hills have never been the same again. They're still hard, but there's a sort of an interesting challenge to them. I'm still slow as crap, but there's a very slight improvement year over year. Maybe when I'm 80, I'll be an impressive climber.


David Blaine said...

The hill in Riverside state park up to the west side trail head near Govt Way is a nemesis hill for me. At the other end of Riverside, Carlson Road is a favorite training hill but not terribly steep really. For steep you have to poke around the south hill like McClellan between 5th and 4th and 7th. Most cyclists, choose to avoid this hill but I lived at the top of it years ago and had to finish all of my rides with that leg burner.
In the Valley, Madison Road just after it leaves Dishman-Mica on it's way to Valleyford has a great hill. I could go on like this all day. It is true that you develop relationships with hills, you give them personalities and charecter. They are friends at best and at worst spiteful adversaries that engage that draw out our competetive spirits.

Anonymous said...

I'm a commuter bike with a pretty short ride to work. The fun part is going DOWN Cowley, past St. Luke's Rehab. The hard part is going UP Cowley at the end of the day with my panniers full of my work clothes, lunch leftovers, etc. It's similar to the McClellan stretch David Blaine mentions. My usual route would be Sherman/SE Blvd., a much more gradual climb, but the construction has it closed right now.
Browne up and around Sacred Heart is another heart-pounding experience. I get off and push around the steepest part because I fear the drivers who will come flying around that blind corner and take me out (that's my excuse, anyway).
Great blog--glad I discovered it!