Featured Hill climbs

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.