Featured Hill climbs

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.