Whiteface Mountain, NY. Whiteface Mountain is located just outside of Lake Placid. Whiteface is second only to Mt Washington in vertical gain. The view from the top is quite spectacular. Prior to 2012, the course started at the four-corners in Wilmington and climbed monotonically 3500ft in 8mi. Now the race starts at the Whiteface Mtn ski area and adds three miles, mostly downhill before the actual climb starts.
The climb does not deviate much from 8% grade. This doesn’t mean it is easier than the 12% climbs reviewed here, it means you just go faster. Most riders will not need radical gearing to conquer Whiteface, but a compact crank with up-sized cassette will still be needed for most.
The climb kicks off with about 9% grade for the first three miles. It flattens some around the toll booth area, then resumes 9% grade for the next three miles before tapering off again. Whiteface provides an exhilarating descent, but the road surface continues to deteriorate. The long straight-aways between turns draw you into adrenaline-pumping speed.
You must watch out for huge frost heaves though. You can no longer hit those at speed without consequences. Serious injuries have occurred. With state budgets the way they are, it could be some time before the summit road is repaired. Also use extreme care when overtaking slower riders, who may unexpectedly swerve to dodge frost heaves.
The lower three miles of the descent are straighter and a little less heaved. You’ll develop fatigue from clenching the bar so tightly as your eyes tear up in the wind. For a long time, my highest speed record was on the lower portion of Whiteface.
Do be careful though. I personally know two guys that have wrecked hard on descents, though they were properly trained, experienced, and well-prepared. It is never a pretty sight. Bicycles are now allowed to ride the toll road during operating hours after paying a toll. You may want to see about paying your toll first if timing yourself on a training climb, else you’ll have to stop at the tolls.
The Hillclimb is an annual event that attracts cyclists of all ages and abilities. The cost of the race is $65 for an adult and $45 for a junior, which includes beverages, snacks, and fruit at the finish line and a meal following the race.
There are awards handed out for winners in both the women’s and men’s categories along with prizes. This is a great race that promises excellent road conditions and you are able to ride down without having to organize a pickup. Once you’ve made it all the way to the top it’s always exhilarating to be able to take the trip down.
If you’re up to the challenge you’ll love this bike course. It offers a consistent and relentless 8% grade all the way up to the top. You won’t have an opportunity to take a rest on a flat surface until you reach the peak. The pain will follow you from the bottom to the top but it will feel oh so good once your feet hit the mountaintop and you can proudly say “I did it!”
Keep in mind that the constant grade up doesn’t give you a lot of chances to recover or take a rest so you should make a steady effort up the mountain. Don’t take off too hard. This way you won’t find yourself struggling during the last few miles of the route.
The slope and the distance on this mountain have been compared to the Alpe D’Huez in the French Alps. You’ll be able to experience a European type of mountain climb right here at home. So be sure to practice climbing properly and use a well-thought-through pacing strategy.
You’ll want to be sure to bring along a bag of warm clothes that you can put on once you reach the summit. There is a drastic difference in temperature between the bottom and the top. For your convenience, there is a big truck you can use if you’re racing in the Whiteface Mountain Hillclimb and it will transport your bags to the peak for you. It’s hard enough just getting your bike to the peak so this is a welcome service.
Once you pass the toll booth take a look around for the Taylor and Franklin Falls Ponds that will be just to your north and during your ride take a peek to see Lake Placid through the forest breaks. Enjoy the countryside as you follow the route. It is incredible!
You won’t have to worry about a lot of traffic here especially on weekdays and it is one of the best cycle-friendly routes in New England. You’ll see a lot of signs asking motorists to share the road making this a safe ride to the top and then back down again.
The Ride down Is the Ultimate Reward
Many avid cyclers take on the mountain not only for the climb up but for the exhilarating ride down. Recently the road was resurfaced so you can expect a smooth descent.
The bike ride down is guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping with long straight areas between the turns. You’ll be able to gather up a lot of speed on the way but you’ll need to make sure that you watch out for slower drivers to avoid a collision. You may just find that this is the fastest descent that you’ve ever made in your cycling career!