Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This One's For Hill Junkie

Update: Now with pictures.

My traveling companions have tired of my neverending prattle about vertical feetages and percent gradientage. This is because they are simple folk who cannot appreciate staring at a map and calculating slope. And then calculating it some more. And then talking about what you calculated.

Anyway. Today we went to go ride up this mountain, because we saw a road up it on Google maps, and we had been riding in its shadow for several days. And doing a ride with a 5000 foot climb is pro.

Let me just say, we should have looked at it in Google Earth or something else that would have let me calculate just how steep this thing was, because we epically failed in our ascent.

The approach was a dirt road grind across the plains, steadily increasing in pitch, big ring into middle ring into little ring, until you're climbing at 3 mph on the loosest dirt road ever created and you still haven't gotten to the actual mountain. For thirty minutes we could look up at the mountainside and see the road we were going to take snaking across it. It managed to climb 1500 feet with just three switchbacks in 1.5 miles. It was STEEP. 20% average, unpaved and loose as hell.

But there was this weird dark cleft on the lower section, I'd been trying to figure out what it was, some kind of washout, a shadow, a different type of dirt? Then we rounded switchback #1 and there it was -- the steepest paved road I'd ever seen.

I've climbed Lincoln Gap so I'm intimately familiar with 20% inclines (and my stem), and this was WAY WAY WAY steeper. I started up in my 22x32 gear after claiming it was "totally rideable," and I lasted about 45 seconds, until I got to the first spot where it "flattened out" and realized that dropping from a 38% grade to a 28% grade does not actually let you recover. Let the record show I still made it twice as far up as anyone else in our party.

Anyway -- I mapped it out when we got home, and holy crap, 33% for a quarter of a mile! How do you like that, Hill Junkie? Got anything in the database that's steeper?


It's completely impossible to sit down a 33% grade without flipping over backwards, so to clean this thing would require 8-10 minutes of chest-on-bars pedaling in the little ring on your mountain bike. I don't have any more free days for silly "adventure" on this trip, but if I'm ever back in this godforsaken city, look out, you stupid mountain.

Here's where it is, if you ever "need" to find it.

Looking down the steepest part -- this had to be near 40%

You can tell this part is less steep because we took a photo of someone riding on it.

As always, nothing ever looks as steep in a picture or video as it looks when you're standing there. I've always thought this was due to the restricted field of view of a camera, but suddenly it occurs to me that maybe the real issue is that the massive field of view my eyes provide exaggerates slopes. Whoa.

9 comments:

Ryan 3/26/2009 8:17 AM  

So fucking pro.

Hill Junkie 3/26/2009 8:52 AM  

Dude, you sure know how to push my buttons. I have yet to make it down that way for some riding. At first, I thought you were talking about Mt Charleston. But Potosi Mt looks much better, mostly dirt even. Never heard of it until now. This pretty much clinches it. Las Vegas next spring!

So did you ride along the ridgeline to the highpoint near 8500ft? Any scary signs along the way warning you'll be shot if you proceded any further? This mountain has some history with the famous plane crash and all.

gewilli 3/26/2009 9:48 AM  

Ya seen this?

Fargo street is only 32% but it is a couple hundred yards, but man, sounds like you've found a killer bit of road.

Did ya try doing the zig zag like the do climbing Fargo?

Christopher Tassava 3/26/2009 11:02 AM  

How do you say "Mordarbacken" in Vegasese?

Colin R 3/26/2009 12:45 PM  

Hill Junkie -- we didn't make it to the top, we didn't even make it to the ridge, it was too late in the day and the prospect of walking both up and down that pitch was more than we could handle. it had a fine layer of gravel blown over it that made the descent f-ing TERRIFYING, I've never put my stomach on the seat on something paved until yesterday, I've also never done extended rear-wheel skids on pavement trying to maintain control.

Anyway, we were "smart" enough to bail, but I think it would be awesome to try again. No you'll-get-shot warnings, but there was a "hey stay away from the radio towers up there unless you want cancer" sign.

The stretch above the pavement is still 16-20% and it's pretty loose dirt. The whole thing is like riding up one of the steepest ski area work roads if no one had maintained it for a few years. If one could clean that thing bottom-to-top I would be super impressed.

You could find a million dirt road climbs here, just find a mountain with radio towers on it (there are many) and then use google maps to find the dirt road that serves them. If you ever do head out, let me know and I can point you to the two main areas for MTB and whatnot.

Mom 3/27/2009 5:37 PM  
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Mom 3/27/2009 5:41 PM  
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Mom 3/27/2009 5:46 PM  
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G-ride 3/31/2009 9:00 AM  

that looks like my driveway.

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