Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fighting headwinds in the Valley

Many of you who have ridden with me know that I absolutely love a good climb. Sure, I'm sure a lot of you think I'm crazy, why would anyone love the part of cycling the is the hardest and brings the most pain. Most people dread the uphill and would rather cruise along at a good clip along a flat stretch. Others, prefer the rush of descending, navigating switchbacks at high speeds on a razors edge. I can hold my own in these situations, but I excel is when the terrain turns upwards.

So today with temperature very near 50 degrees and the snow melted off the roads, I decided to return to my old stomping grounds of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I love the National Park because not only does it offer great roads to ride, it also has some beautiful scenery. What I love most about the Valley is the ample selection of steep grades. So I decided to take my "rain" bike out and get some miles in. I knew it would also be a test of my recovery after coming down with a nasty case of the stomach flu.

My route started by descending Truxell road, a gentle downhill where you can keep speeds between 25 to 30 mph almost the entire road. Once at the bottom a right turn on Peninsula road and a small warm up climb drops you back into the sleepy town of Peninsula. A left turn on route 303 and a right on Riverview road brings you up to the first major climb of the day, what I like to call Boston Mills climb west. Today the road was pretty rough because of last summers construction. Boston Mills west starts off unassuming until the last quarter mile where the grade steepens to the point where even in your easiest gears you are at your limit going up the hill at a snails pace. Once at the top I turned around gingerly descended the wet and rough road and crossed Riverview road and head over to my favorite climb, Boston Mills east. 

Boston Mills east will always hold a special place in my heart, it's my Alpe De Huez, three miles of pure agony. I have yet to have the qualities of this climb in northeast Ohio. It's not the steepness, length or curves, I can find hills that fit these bills, there's just something about this particular hill. The first mile is a steady grade, more difficult than most climbs but easily done in an easy gear. Near the mile mark it flattens out and crosses the interstate, now this is where the fun begins. A steep curving descent gives you slight hope that things may get better, but if you look across you see that it doesn't get better. Across that valley, immediately after you get to the bottom you have to go right back up the steepest part of the hill. There's no sitting and spinning up this hill, even in your easiest gear you have to stand and work up this hill. Once up the hill, you've done about two miles of the grade, the last mile is a false flat. You'll want to switch gears and start moving again, but you still are going uphill. After this you are finally done. 

Two right turns and you back on the flat route 303 which descends back in Penisula, and once you back in town a left turn and you can follow your path back out Truxell road. A less daunting climb out of the valley and you're back to where you started. An hour and a half and 20 miles under the belt. Not my best time but for the conditions a great ride. I got my climbing fix in!

Sorry no photos, I left my camera in the car but trust me I'll be doing this ride again soon.


  1. You've got to love the valley for the closest thing to hills Ohio has.

  2. Plus all the bikes lanes, I love the valley to bad the gf that lived two minutes from it dumped me at the end of the summer :(