Okemo Mtn, VT – Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, VT is another popular climb among cyclists. The paved summit road winds through the ski area en route to the summit. It is a state road, but not a park, so no entrance fee is required for those interested in training here. The Race for Grace is different from most other Hillclimb events in that the race does not start at the base of the climb.
It starts in Jackson Gore village and follows flat or slightly downhill Rt 103 for nearly two miles before picking up the steep summit road. This means racers need all the gears on their bike, as most will be traveling over 20mph to reach the base of the climb. The climb throws some really steep punches, but nothing like the first 2 miles of Ascutney.
Okemo offers occasional breathers. The finish line is just shy of the end of the pavement. There is minimal parking area at the summit, so most riders will be expected to ride their bikes back down. The pavement is decent for climbing, but great care must be taken on the descent. Like any New England road, old man winter eventually has its way with asphalt.
There is no view from the finish area. The road does not reach the highest point. This requires approximately 0.25mi hike on the jeep road, and view from the top of chairlifts is nice, and view from the fire tower is spectacular.
Might be good to send a pair of sneakers up if you want to walk over to it while waiting for the last racer to finish. There are a couple of other nice vistas just down from the finish. Take time to enjoy them on the descent. This is an excellent venue for a Hillclimb, as the facilities at Jackson Gore are the first-rate. For a comparison of more bicycle uphill challenges in New England, check out this post.
Appalachian Gap TT (Allen Clark Memorial Hillclimb), Vermont
The “App Gap TT” begins at the Rt 17/Rt 100 junction in Waitsfield. The TT route follows Rt 17 to the summit of App Gap. It climbs gradually at first, becoming increasingly steep. The last 2km averages over 10% grade, while the last 500 meters approaching the summit averages 13%. This side of Appalachian Gap is also used as the prologue course in the Green Mountain Stage Race (GMSR).
I have done the mass start GMSR race before, but never the Allen Clark TT. The view from the summit to the west into New York is fabulous. The paved surface is generally in pretty good shape, but riders descending after the race must take extreme care. There are a couple of sets of switchbacks that are much sharper than you think. You cannot take these at 50mph, or even 40mph. Riders have been seriously hurt going into or over the guardrail around these turns.