Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wanna Ride a Hill?

Here is a list of hills, for your reading pleasure. This was forwarded to me from Mogus. I am not sure who wrote it but, to whomever, thanks for the detailwork.

The Toughest Hills in St. Louis

Note: For a detailed map to each location, copy the text found at the end of each paragraph and paste it into the location bar on Google Maps

Alt Road — (1.3 mile, 394 feet of elevation, average grade 5.74%, max grade 11%) - Accessing Hidden Valley Ski Resort takes you up along Alt Road from Hwy 109. The numbers on this route are a little deceptive because the road briefly flattens out in a few sections before heading back up each time. Those flats succeed in lowering the average grade to a pedestrian 5.74%. But the nearly 400' of total gain is considerable, reached after turning right from Alt onto Hidden Valley Drive and ulitmately riding to its highest point. The view alone from the summit is worth the effort of getting there. Reaching this climb by bike can be sketchy, unless it's not a issue for you riding the shoulder of Hwy 109 for the mile and a half from Woods Avenue. — Alt Road, Wildwood, Mo

Babler Park, "The Beast" — (.35 mile, 148 feet of ascent, average grade 8%, maximum grade 13%) - Babler Park is one of the finest local venues in which to perform hill work. Extremely smooth and generously wide roads with little very motor traffic make training there a distinct pleasure. The Babler Beast Triathlon has been staged in that park for many years. A hill that is not currently part of that race's bike course came to be known as the Beast. Two laps up the Beast at race pace, particularly after elevating your heart rate with a 500 yard swim, seemed pretty challenging in those days. After climbing local hills with average grades in the mid-teens, the Beast now just seems... less beastly. But no doubt about it, this one still goes up. (Note: The Beast is about midway on John Cochran Drive, from the north end) — 800 Guy Park Drive, Babler State Park, Wildwood, Mo

Babler Trails Road — (.25 mile, 190 feet of ascent, 14.39% average grade, 20.5% max grade) - This is one climb you may have unknowingly passed countless times if you regularly ride out Wildhorse Creek Road to Ossenfort. Just before you reach the Wildhorse-Ossenfort fork, Babler Trails Road will appear on your right. The innocuous entrance to this quiet neighborhood offers no clue as to the major bump in the road that lies dead ahead. This climb is long, straight, and unforgiving. Cyclists heading out to St Albans who get their heartrate up in anticipation of Ossenfort hill should consider scaling this one. It will change their perspective of the minor climb known as Ossenfort Hill. Additional note: To throw in a little confusion, along the climb the road changes names to Babler Forest. — Babler Trails Road, Wildwood, Mo

Bartizan Drive — (.3 mile, 228 feet of ascent, 12.95% average grade, 20.8% max grade) - A beast of a climb, it immediately grabs your attention at the base. For pure steepness, this one is about as vertical as it gets locally as it twists its way skyward. About halfway up, you may doubt your ability to crest the summit on a 25-tooth cog without weaving. This one has compact cranks and 27 written all over it. To find it, work your way up Woods Avenue less then a mile from Highway 109. Turn right onto Bartizan Drive then get ready to suffer. And the fun isn't over once you reach the summit. The descent is a forearm workout with its continual brake-lever squeeze until you abruptly reach the bottom. With no coast out, blasting down this seems totally out of the question. After that ordeal, the remainder of the climb up Woods Avenue to Old Manchester will seem like child's play. In the event you are descending Woods to find Bartizan, look to your left about half way down, just past the bridge. — Bartizan Drive, Wildwood, Mo

Creve Coeur Park, Marine Avenue — (.44 mile, 144 feet of elevation average grade 6.1%, max grade 12%) - Marine Avenue is the main drag through lower Creve Coeur Park. It follows the lakefront before heading up the bluff to overlook Missouri River bottom land. Without the luxury of a shoulder, the relatively narrow, winding road doesn't lend itself to cyclists looking to get a hill workout, particularly on a busy weekend morning. But if well-timed, the ascent has merit with its very steady grade. The climb may not light one's legs up like some of the 20%+ max grades found on other, tougher local hills, but in all, it still offers a nice medium burn at just under a half mile in length. — Marine Ave, Creve Coeur Park

Franks Road — (2.71 mile, 855 feet of elevation, average grade 5.975%) - Much like far West County, Jefferson County is home to a number of great climbs. Cyclists who have ridden the Sandy Creek Century will attest to that. What Jefferson County offers is a combination of steep pitches and long climbs with its massively rolling terrain. A drive south on Gravois from Hwy 270 leads you to High Ridge and brings you to Franks Road. Riding the full 2.71 miles of this winding two-laned road from west to east will hit you with 855 total feet of climbing. But what will get your full attention is the awesome .5 mile middle section that rises 290 feet, an average grade of 10.9%. Unfortunately, this climb is a bit removed from the typical haunts of most cyclists, but qualifies as a "must add" to any hill lover's riding résumé. (Historical Aside— In the 1890's, the high wheel cyclists would often ride the rolling 90-mile round trip between St Louis and De Soto passing through High Ridge on "the Gravois Road." Remarkably, Cola Stone managed it in 4 hrs 10 minutes on his 35lb, fixed gear, 48" big-wheel bike along the unpaved roads. The ride was described this way by a Post-Dispatch columnist: "Only the supermen of the high wheel attempted that man-killing century run to De Soto and back over Ozark hills and grades that were impossible for the average rider). — Franks Road, High Ridge, Mo

Highland View — (.32 mile, 251 feet of ascent, average grade 14.86%, max grade 21%) - This hill is one of those "off the beaten path" climbs that you have to want to do. Let's face it, few cyclists will add an out and back spur to their ride just to throw in another brutal climb. Many of the hills that find their way onto our list are necessary evils (if you want to view them as such) because they are situated on commonly ridden roads. Highland View is located just off of Fox Creek Road as you head south towards Hwy 44 and Six Flags. It is actually partially visible on your right soon after you pass Model Realty Road. A breathtaking glimpse of an upper stretch of Highland View emerges from the trees along the ridge. If your sense of adventure or curiosity lead you to this hill, it is an imposing site as you look up from its base. The climb is virtually a straight shot to the top. You'd better be on your small ring at the start of the grind or risk dropping your chain if you try shifting it midway. The torque on your chain will be high immediately. When thankfully reaching the top, you'll understand why this street is named Highland View. Then you must deal with the other issue— getting down! The descent must be performed judiciously because the road is not perfectly smooth and it ends in a T at the bottom. To do otherwise would be a death-wish. It is interesting to speculate, however, about what rate of speed one could attain if the descent could be done all-out on glassy, smooth asphalt with a nice, long coast-out at the bottom. Our guess would be in the low 60's.— Highland View Drive, Pacific, Mo

Hunters Ford Road — (.81 mile, 340 feet of ascent, average grade 7.95%, max grade 18%) - Our discussion of great local hill climbs has lingered near Sick Flags. If you've driven southwest on Highway 44 near that point, the reason is clear— hills! Without straying too far into Jefferson County (which has its own complete roster of challenging ascents), we should at least point our cycling gloved finger at another increasingly popular climb. This one came to my attention this past summer. Cyclists riding to Six Flags often choose to include an approximately 8-mile loop that takes them to the south side of Hwy 44. To capture the full flavor of this particular ramp, one must ride the loop in a counter-clockwise fashion. The map will show a road route of: Wengler - Homeker - Sheerin - Hunters Ford Road, though its doubtful you'll notice the name changes along the way. The climb up Hunters Ford is not so severely steep as a few of the previous hills we've discussed here, but its longish nature definitely earns our esteemed designation of grinder. The loop is a must-do before impending commercial and residential developments adversely affect it. — Hunters Ford Rd, Pacific, Mo

Melrose Road — (First Climb- .33 mile, 156 feet of ascent, average grade 8.86 %, max grade 14.5%) - Second Climb- .34 mile, 136 feet of ascent, average grade 7.57%, max grade 15%) - No discussion of Wildwood hills would be complete without mentioning the climb(s) riders face up Melrose Road starting just around the corner from the entrance to Rockwood Reservations near Hwy 109. While not the steepest nor the longest hill(s) in west county, this is actually a double-tiered ascent which will still put a distinct burn in the legs. Once crested, the first plateau is but a two-thousand yard respite before the road points back up again. If the first climb didn't reduce you to spinning your small chain ring, the second one probably will. The road is yet another recently poured, silky smooth, asphalt overlay so commonly found in Wildwood these days. When ridden from the opposite direction (i.e. from Six Flags) the combination of hills offers two blazingly fast drops that can be taken full out. — Melrose Road & Glencoe Road, Wildwood, Mo

Orville Road — (.39 mile, 153 feet of ascent, average grade 7.4%, max grade 12.8%) - This winding stretch of asphalt runs along a ridgetop between Etherton and Shepard Roads, where at each end lies a ramp. The more popular and safer direction in which to ride this road is probably west to east— from Etherton to Shepard. This is primarily because of the severe descent into a T-intersection that riders face at Etherton from east to west on Orville. But taken from either direction, the climb to the ridgetop is challenging. Upon entering Orville from Etherton Rd, riders are greeted immediately with a 10%+ grade. The road pitches more steeply for the next .1 of a mile until it maxes out at 12.8%. From that point, the worst is over and it's just a steady slog to the top. — Orrville Rd & Eatherton Rd, Chesterfield, MO 63005
Pere Marquette Park — The ride up the Great River Road to Pere Marquette Park actually netted two hills for the price of one. Not only was the main road leading up into the park there for us to climb, but a challenging hill was situated behind the park on Graham Hollow Road. Regardless of whether one chooses to ride clockwise or counter, the two roads form a very nice loop upon which you can climb one and descend the other. While I was there, several cyclists were doing just that. — Graham Hollow Rd, Grafton, IL

Pere Marquette Park — (1.0 mile, 370 feet of elevation, average grade 7.0%, max grade 16.5% ) - The climb up the park will likely have you standing on your pedal immediately. The good news is that after the initial quarter mile onslaught, the worst is over. The road twists its way to the top with curling switchbacks and even levels off in a couple of places. Riders making their way to the summit can enjoy a vista of the river and flatlands below the bluff.

Graham Hollow Road — (2.28 miles, 426 feet of elevation, average grade 3.5%, max grade 17.2%) - This section of riding is really a road with two personalities. The first 1.75 miles are a sustained, low-grade rise. While it reduces the overall average grade of the ride to the top, it allows provides a nice leg warmer before you get to the good part. The last .75 mile kicks up nicely throwing all its got at you. (.75 mile, 229 feet, average grade 6% , max 17.2%.

Ries Road — (.2 mile, 128 feet of ascent, average grade 12%, maximum grade 17.5%) - Visitors to Castlewood State Park often arrive via Manchester and Ries Roads. That route takes them south along the incredible rollers of Ries Road. Some readers may not realize that not so long ago Ries Road formed a challenging out and back bike course for a triathlon from The Pointe at Ballwin Commons. Upon exiting Castlewood Park and retracing their path back to Ries Road, cyclists are immediately confronted with a climb of challenging proportions. From its base at Kiefer Creek Rd. & Ries Rd., the climb begins gently enough before it pitches seriously upward, rising 128 feet vertically in just two tenths of a mile. Click on Google's satellite or hybrid map options for a nice bird's eye view that terrain's undulating nature. — Ries Road, Ballwin, Mo
Scenic Loop Road, "The Wall" — (.17 mile, 161 feet of ascent, average grade 17.95%, max grade 24.9%) - If it appears that the series focus thus far has been on Wildwood, that's no coincidence as there are so many magnificent climbs situated within its undulating city limits. The ride to Six Flags has remained a popular one for many years. Some choose to arrive via the long descent down Allenton to Fox Creek while others opt for the counter-clockwise direction and climbing the longish, medium-grade up Allenton alongside Six Flags to upper Greensfelder Park. In either case, nearly all cyclists generally ride right past Scenic Loop Road which curls through the park proper. This little-trafficked two-mile loop, when ridden in a clockwise fashion (backwards), will confront you with another leg-shredding incline affectionately known as "The Wall." It performs a credible impersonation. — 4250 Allenton Rd, Pacific, Mo

Wildhorse Creek Road, "Doberman Hill" — (.35 mile, 193 feet of ascent, average grade 10.4%, max grade 16%) - There are some local hills that over time have become old standards. In fact a few have even earned nicknames. Whether Doberman alludes to some menacing canine from years past or the figurative bite the hill puts in your legs, I haven't a clue. Riding east on Wildhorse Road just past the intersection of Centaur Rd, the new asphalt overlay curls upward from an elevation of 565 feet to 720 feet as it climbs to meet Hwy 109 just east of the summit. There are steeper and there are longer hills to climb, but this one hurts because, more often then not, you've just hammered your legs along the fast, 4-mile, flat stretch of Wildhorse Creek before arriving at the base of Doberman. Taken from the top down (east to west), Doberman offers the cycling thrillseekers among us a very smooth, high-speed descent. — Centaur Rd, Wildwood, Mo ( closest locator text string we could find)


Jim said...

I believe that list is courtesy of swimbikerunstl.com

Riding Franks Rd on a fixed-gear big-wheeled bike is insane. Wonder what the gearing was like on those bikes?

Craig said...

With "due respect" to your plagiarized list, I'd add a couple from the beautiful Wildwood area:

1. Woodland Meadows drive (private road between Melrose and Old Manchester)... I measured this with my Specialized Pro barometric computer and the grade was reported at a sustained 22%, peaking at 24%. I think the climb is in the range of 1/2 mile. Ride if from Melrose to OMR for the best "effect"

2. Scenic Loop Drive in Greensfelder Park. I think this one is also in the over 20% grade class. Scenic Loop offers a few other options, depending if you want to ride against the "One Way" signs.

richpierce said...

I've been doing the Allenton South Loop (Hunter's Ford)on my single speed road bike- challenging.