Stan’s Obligatory Blog


The biggest hill I ever rode up…

Filed under: — stan @ 11:27 pm

I like riding up hills. It’s fun, largely for the sense of accomplishment I get at the top. I’ve always been this way. When I was a kid, we used to go to the White Mountains in New Hampshire for vacation every year. We hiked up and down lots of the mountains there, and it was great fun.

When I first got interesting in serious cycling, I remember that one of the first things I thought of was, “I’m going to ride my bike up the Mount Washington Auto Road“. The thought just came naturally, since it was the biggest hill I knew of. Everyone I told about this thought I was crazy, which I guess is pretty normal, since I get that reaction about lots of things.

I didn’t get to do it until 1976, when I was sixteen, but it was as much fun as I thought it would be. I rode up to the toll gates at the bottom of the road and they waved me through. I rode across the meadow, and then started up the hill. And it was steep. It was steeper than I’d thought it would be. Steeper than it felt when we’d hiked on parts of it before. In those days the road was about half paved and half dirt. But it was all right. I just kept going, up and up. My parents drove the car up and stopped along the way to watch me ride by. Sadly, we didn’t have a camera, so I don’t have any pictures.

When I got to the top, I parked my bike along the wall where hikers put their packs. I rested a bit and then headed down. I had to stop a couple of times to let my brakes cool off. They were getting really hot, and I was worried that this might make my tires blow out from the pressure, or melt the rim glue, since I was riding the old-fashioned sew-up tires. But when I got down I was elated. I’d ridden up the biggest hill I knew, and had fun doing it.

I rode the Mt. Washington Valley bike race in 1977. The second part of the race was a hillclimb up the auto road, but the weather was bad that day and they only ran it to the Halfway House.

I rode up Mt. Washington one more time in 1981. It was also fun. I even saw two other riders on the road that day.

Sadly, I see that they no longer allow bike riders on the road. They hold a bike ride once a year, and that’s it. I guess that a lot of people want to do it, since the registration fee is something like $300. So I’m glad that I got to do it back in the days when it was just an oddity. I still remember watching all the people gawking at me from their cars when I was riding up the first time.

And I still like riding up hills. Next Sunday is the Fargo Street Hillclimb. This isn’t a particularly big hill, but it’s reputed to be the steepest hill in Los Angeles. I tried it once before, back in 1990, but I didn’t get very far. I didn’t have the right gears. This time I think I can do it. I’ve been practicing on Nolden St, which is almost as steep as Fargo, so I think I’m ready. And I’m looking forward to it. Riding up ridiculous hills is fun.


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