Featured Hill climbs

Mt Washington Bicycle Hill Climb

Mount Washington NH, is the biggest climb in the Northeastern United States and often dubbed the toughest hill climb in North America or even the world. I wouldn’t challenge the idea that this is the toughest hill climb in the Northern Hemisphere. Additionally, foul weather is often taking on a big role in this hill climb.

The Mount Washington Bicycle Hillclimb is regarded as the grand-daddy of all hill climbs in the northeastern portions of America and careers were launched for winners on this impressive mountain. In 1997, for example, Tyler Hamilton broke an almost 20-year-old record here and in 1999, he again broke his own record. In 2002, we witnessed a new kid on the block named Tom Danielson, who brought Hamilton’s record down by one more minute.

The track is mostly paved and it rises more than 4720 feet in just over 7.5 miles which translates to a nearly 12% average grade. At the top, there’s even a 22% grade section! The Mount Washington climb is rising pretty monotonically and on the way up, there are no flat or downhill parts that allow for catching your breath.

Cycling Hill Climbs-New England and New York

Welcome to North East Cycling Climb Central. Here you will find detailed information about road cycling hill climbs located throughout the New England states and northeastern New York State. Most of these climbs offer paved surfaces, and gravel sections on a few of the climbs usually do not pose problems for road bikes.

Profiles of the climbs are given, as well as detailed descriptions of surface quality, climbing/descending difficulty, and other bits of info, such as views, race records, etc. All types of climbs are represented here, including mountain summit, gap/notch/pass, long and gradual, short and steep, big and small vertical gain climbs.

I continue to add content to this site. Many NE hillclimbers have sent suggestions for additional content, and many of these suggestions have been recently added to the site. If you have a favorite climb you would like to see added or other comments, please send me an email through the contact link above. …

Mt Greylock and High Point Hill Climb TT

Mount Greylock, MA – Located in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Mt. Greylock offers a very respectable climb with spectacular views. The TT course begins just off Rt 8 in N. Adams on Furnace St, then hangs a quick left onto Reservoir Rd, which is perhaps the steepest part of the whole climb and you haven’t even left town yet.

You can park right there at Heritage State Park. It starts out with several sustained, very steep sections, then moderates as you approach the summit. One significant downhill early in the climb will get your speed up to about 40mph, so you’ll need all your gears. The flatter portions at the top will also let stronger riders cruise around 20mph.

Comparison of Hillclimb Races for Cyclists

Here you will find information on Hillclimb races. Only mountains that have been raced in the last few years are presented, primarily from the New England states plus eastern New York and New Jersey. The information presented makes it easy for those contemplating a race to compare the relative difficulty of each race.

Some of these Hillclimb events are not pure hill climbs, in that there may be rolling or flat sections leading to the climb. The race profiles are depicted here, where only the climbing portion may be depicted elsewhere on northeastcycling.com. A 10% reference-grade line is included in the graph as a cue in establishing relative steepness.

Not many climbs exceed an average grade of 10%, but most will have sections approaching or exceeding this. The table below gives stats on the climbs. I’ve done my best to accurately show male and female records by manually going through all of the previous year’s results I’m aware of. …

Mount Agamenticus TT, Maine

Agamenticus TT, ME – The Mount Agamenticus (Mt. Agi) is a mixed-bag TT with lots of character. Starts just outside of the South Berwick town center near the intersection of Agamenticus and Willow roads. The first few miles of the course are fairly flat, where Agamenticus Road is taken to Emery’s Bridge Road.

However, once you turn right on Belle Marsh Road, the climbing begins, but not steeply. A left is taken on Mountain Road, which climbs a little further before a brief descent occurs. Beware, the descent starts paved and good speed is built up, but before you reach the bottom, the road turns to gravel. The gravel can be loose washboard bumps with large stones, and it is not straight.

One time when I came down this, the washboard nearly rhythmically bounced me right off the road at 30+ mph. Then the steep climbing begins, still on dirt. Depending on the time of year, recent rain or lack thereof, and maintenance, you may have to hunt for a good line to not lose traction with skinny 23mm tires.

Wachusett Mountain and Bash Bish Hill TT, Massachusetts

Wachusett Mountain, MA – Wachusett Mountain is among the less challenging hill climb races that we’re talking about here. Sure, you will find a few sustained steep sections on your way, but there are some flat and downhill stretches that allow for some recovery. The Wachusett Mountain climb, when you take the time-trial track, starts out below the ski area at the base lodge on Mountain Road.

The first miles are is the hardest as the track averages some 8 to 9% grade. Then you turn right onto the summit road which will take you around to Wachusett Mountain summit by a 1-way auto road. There’s a short downhill section just when you’ve done some 2 miles and here, you can reach a speed of some 40mph so you’ll really need that ring on your bike.

The downhill stretch with the sharp left turn at the bottom is barreled off so you take the shortcut which takes about a half-mile out of initial TT course. The last stretch onto the parking lot at the top is quite steep again, probably more than 12%. On a clear day, you even might see Boston from Wachusett’s summit. The Wachusett time-trial series runs once a month on Wednesday evenings, for three or four months.

Mount Ascutney, Vermont

Mount Ascutney, VT – Due to the increasing popularity of the Mt. Washington hill climb and park management noting a dramatic increase in riders training at Mt. Ascutney, the park decided to hold their own race from 2000. It was my first hill climb race. 90 riders competed in the inaugural event, and thousands have participated over the last decades.

As you can see from the comparison graph below, the first 1.5 miles of Ascutney gain significantly more vertical than any other climb. There reportedly are short but sustained 19% grade sections. I find Ascutney a more grueling climb than Washington. It’s only half the vertical so you push harder in the race knowing the pain will be over in 30 minutes.

Ascutney has some very tight switchbacks and a few frost heaves, so care must be taken on the descent. Since much of the surface has been recently repaved in 2005, the descent is much more enjoyable. It’s still a good idea to reduce tire pressure and stop for rim cooling, however. Many riders have blown tires off their wheels descending this mountain.

The Kangamangus Highway- Crank-the-Kanc

Crank the Kanc, NH – Tomorrow is the annual “Crank the Kanc” bicycle time trial hill climb that occurs each May on New Hampshire’s beautiful Kancamaugus Highway, a stunning scenic byway through the state’s White Mountain National Forest. The race is just over 21 miles with over 2300 ft. of net elevation gain. The descent is spectacular as well as you can see in this 2017 video:

The “Crank the Kanc” is a time-trial hill climb that is perhaps a little lesser-known. However, the trial not purely a hill climb. This trial sets out near Conway, New Hampshire and follows Route 112 (Kancamagus Highway) to the Kancamagus Pass top. The course is climbing gradually over the first ten miles before it nearly levels off for a 5-mile stretch.

The last four miles of the 21-mile-trial are pretty steep and average some 7 degrees with short sections that are much steeper. There are several spectacular viewpoints along the track, so make sure you’ll enjoy them on your way down. I did the Kancamagus Highway several times, but never the timed event.

Locally, the trial is often referred to as the “Kanc” and it is the true backbone to so many fantastic cycling rides through New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Over the last decade, much of the Kanc was reconstructed. West of the Kanc pass, the road was resurfaced and is truly spectacular for bombing down. Some lower sections east of Kanc pass still require some work but the sections that were reworked offer widened roadways making the Kanc ride much safer and enjoyable. …

Hillclimbers’ Training

Having participated in numerous hill climb cycling events over the past seven years, I felt compelled to capture some philosophical perspective on the subject. In this seven-year period, I estimate hill climb participation has quadrupled in the northeastern part of the country. Not too long ago, Mt. Washington would not reach the 600 rider limit.

In 2006, a second race was added when the August event sold out in three hours. Also in this seven-year period, annual events have begun at Ascutney, Whiteface, and Equinox with pre-registered riders numbering in the hundreds. Many riders are doing their first climb each year. Other riders are looking to improve their previous best times. I hope this guide will help these riders to attain their goals.

One of the best places to obtain additional information on any northeast hill climb is the Mt. Washington Hillclimb Racers Forum. Although this forum exists to support Mt Washington racers, anybody may post on this open forum. It has become the gathering place of northeast hillclimbers in cyberspace. Questions on gearing, tires, weight, training, weather and many other topics are eagerly answered here.

Ten topics were selected for discussion below. They are not necessarily in order of importance. Some of the topics such as Training or Diet could never be covered in adequate detail here, so references are given to authorities on these topics. If you have any questions on this material, feel free to contact me.

Burke Mountain and Bolton TT, Vermont

Burke Mountain, VT – Burke Mountain debuted in the hill climb racing scene in September 2007. I have ridden up Burke several times, usually on a mountain bike when I hit the Kingdom Trails.

This climb is tough, I suspect many find it more difficult than Mt. Ascutney. The average grade is slightly less, but there are sustained sections that are much steeper than any comparable sustained section on Mt. Ascutney.

For this reason, it is hard to find a rhythm on this climb. Except at the start area, it is all up too. Around the 2 mile mark, there is a section that approaches 20% grade for at least a few tenths of a mile.

I find it difficult to keep the front wheel on the ground. This grade is comparable only to the east side of Lincoln Gap in the Green Mountains. The race starts at the ski lodge base area, although in earlier days, the mass start race was neutral until after rounding the corner onto Mountain Road.

The profile below starts at the base lodge of the ski area. There is a slight drop approaching Mountain Road. Once the fork to the Toll Road is taken, the grade immediately kicks up to 14% and stays there until the 20% grade section.

The rest of the climb hovers in the 12-15% range. Ski runs are crossed several times on the way up, offering fantastic views and giving you a psychological boost in showing how dramatically you have gained vertical despite crawling at just a few miles per hour.