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The longest, hardest climbs are in North Georgia

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The longest, hardest climbs are in North Georgia

Old 08-04-19, 08:27 PM
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The longest, hardest climbs are in North Georgia

But I'm curious what y'all have in your areas.

Down here we got the Cohutta, the best climbs of which are just south of the Tennessee border. Did this yesterday, it's a monster. Entirely gravel with varying surface, short sections of smooth dirt, a ton of embedded rock, loose crusher run, lots of washboard and dozens of punchy 9-11% sections - that are also loose and chunky. It ate up a ton of riders, I passed several that were riding strong until mile 7-8 and then ended up walking after a seriously steep loose section. Guy ahead of me stopped, sat on the ground and when I asked if he was ok he said "I just can't climb anymore right now" with a thousand yard stare into the trees. The future as a chunky gravel road stretching up into the sky you climb but it never ends.



Anyway, my thread prompt was I saw a couple riders I follow on Strava (Erik Newsholme & Brian Toone) did Pikes Peak but I've given to understand that's been paved. So I was genuinely curious who has access to the longest unpaved climb. I suspect it's out in Colorado or Washington somewhere. Or even *gasp* California. Even if it is longer I bet it's not as hard as our stuff, Georgia gravel is the best. Unless I move somewhere else then that gravel'll be the best

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Old 08-04-19, 09:53 PM
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North Georgia is pretty rugged.

The comment section of bikepacking.com's write up of the Trans North Georgia route is full of people surprised at the elevation here. Stuff like, "Holy moly, that's steeper than the Colorado Trail...and it's in Georgia." and similar.

https://bikepacking.com/routes/trans...-georgia-tnga/


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Old 08-04-19, 10:03 PM
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That does look tough. The only gravel climb over here that I've done which has a similar amount of altitude is NF-18 (Segelson Road), which takes you from the valley floor to this:



It's steadier than your climb, though. Lower back pain is a real threat on Segelson... if you get into too steady a climbing form and forget to loosen up on the shallower spots, you can end up starting to hurt in steeper spots where you can't get out of the saddle as easily, heheh.

We've got some decently scary 1000-2000 foot hills, though. The ride I did yesterday covered only 28 miles, but it included three ~mile-long stretches that each averaged 12-13%:



Even though we all brought sub-1:1 gears, we were grinding horribly on the steep spots.

We hadn't ridden the final climb before, and there are lots of roads around it to check out... maybe that'll be the focus of another ride. It heads up one of Mount Pilchuck's southern buttresses. The views from that road didn't photograph as well as I'd hoped, but they were fantastic.

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Old 08-04-19, 10:10 PM
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That is quite the climb for gravel. Not real steep overall, but a few mighty steep sections.

I tend to look for paved road for climbs like that!!

We've got a few 10 to 20 or more mile long climbs around here, but mostly paved. I can think of a few gravel logging roads that I've mostly driven on, and there'd probably be more if one looked.
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Old 08-04-19, 10:47 PM
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There's one about 20-minutes from where I work that's real popular with the locals.

Mix Canyon

Vacaville ? The Diabolical Duo ? Mix Canyon & Gates Canyon (Super Steep) Hill Climbing

It's not all gravel but some of the gravel sections (not captured in those photos at the link above) are real brutal. A co-worker, 2-3 years ago chose it as his hill for one of his many Everest'ing challenges.

I've done the climb once, last fall and I did a lot of hike-a-bike. But my perceived fitness absolutely did not align with required fitness.
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Old 08-04-19, 11:14 PM
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White Mountain, California

The climb from Big Pine (3988’) to White Mountain Peak (14,252’) might be the most vertical in the US.

I did it on a hard tail in 2004, but didn’t quite make the summit (didn’t bring enough food). It was a slog.

https://www.tourofcalifornia.org/201...-peak.html?m=1
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Old 08-05-19, 06:01 AM
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I'll bet that would flatten out quickly if you heard some banjo music!
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Old 08-05-19, 06:54 AM
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Make the grade higher and add some virtually unrideable mudbogs to your climb and it might be as tough as this one: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29626799

And then there's this one, which is next-level: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30234764 I knew I was in for a long day when I saw all the people on MTBs.

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Old 08-05-19, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
The climb from Big Pine (3988’) to White Mountain Peak (14,252’) might be the most vertical in the US.

I did it on a hard tail in 2004, but didn’t quite make the summit (didn’t bring enough food). It was a slog.

https://www.tourofcalifornia.org/201...-peak.html?m=1
Wow! I never knew this existed. Maybe someday on my way to SF. It does look like a grind tho.

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Old 08-05-19, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I'll bet that would flatten out quickly if you heard some banjo music!
We are the ones making the music.


-Tim-
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Old 08-05-19, 08:50 AM
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OK, each to his own, but I'm gonna wear my "I'm not Ned" safety vest if I ride down there.
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Old 08-05-19, 09:09 AM
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I don't normally go looking for gravel roads.
But here is one I tried once just because it is the steepest road within easy riding distance.
Narrow as hell, and loaded with ruts from snow/rain drainage.
Lickskillet Road, near Boulder.
It runs between Lefthand Cyn, and the town of Gold Hill, and is one mile long.
Note the gradient chart at the bottom of the image:
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Old 08-05-19, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Anyway, my thread prompt was I saw a couple riders I follow on Strava (Erik Newsholme & Brian Toone) did Pikes Peak but I've given to understand that's been paved.
For cyclists, the paving of Pikes Peak is a mixed blessing;
When it was gravel, cyclists were prohibited.
Since it has been paved, cyclists are allowed.
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Old 08-05-19, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
The climb from Big Pine (3988’) to White Mountain Peak (14,252’) might be the most vertical in the US.

I did it on a hard tail in 2004, but didn’t quite make the summit (didn’t bring enough food). It was a slog.

https://www.tourofcalifornia.org/201...-peak.html?m=1
Is that a FS 29r triple with 2.25 inch meats on California gravel? Oh My! Is that even allowed in the gravel section?
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Old 08-05-19, 09:30 AM
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White Mountain, California

Originally Posted by dgodave View Post
It does look like a grind tho.
It is definitely a grind, more so because there is no water on the route. We hid some water near the Schulman Grove visitor's center the day before.

The worst part was the pounding on the body during the descent on washboard surfaces. That beat me up pretty badly, a hardtail was probably not the best choice.

It took days to recover from the beating. Here are my notes:

Ride day: 82.7 miles, 12,480 feet, 9 hours 21 minutes; bonked (dummy), sore ankles/wrists/back
Next day: drive home, sore & tired
Next day: rest day, still sore and tired
Next day: 43.9 miles, 3540 feet, 3 hours 10 minutes; recovery ride, left hip still sore

Here's the route on ridewithgps

EDIT: Photos of White Mountain — some taken during the ride.
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Last edited by terrymorse; 08-05-19 at 10:11 AM. Reason: added link to photos
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Old 08-05-19, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Nice! That's a great looking climb and has the pedigree to go with it: "41 Attempts By 34 People"

Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Make the grade higher and add some virtually unrideable mudbogs to your climb and it might be as tough as this one: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29626799

And then there's this one, which is next-level: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30234764 I knew I was in for a long day when I saw all the people on MTBs.
Those look like some decently hard courses, I'll take a few longer climbs over several shorter rollers like that. Here's a new event this year that I'm waffling on, steep gravel rollers are so much more mentally taxing than just pointing the bike straight up for an hour+.

This is our next level, 75+ people will show up for this one, anymore distance (outside of NUE) and it's a couple dozen riders at most. We have the Dirty 130 route but it's more a bikepacking event because it's so hard done as a one day, also it's in Tennessee

89 Miles, ~10,500"

We are pretty lucky in that there isn't generally a lot of deep mud. If it's wet it's almost always just a thin surface layer. I've seen some impressive mudbogs over in Alabama on the Skyway and up the West side of Nimblewill Gap but nothing terribly difficult. The good thing is if there's a tendency towards mud, when it's dry the road is almost always buff dirt and very fast:
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Old 08-05-19, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
I'll take a few longer climbs over several shorter rollers like that. Here's a new event this year that I'm waffling on, steep gravel rollers are so much more mentally taxing than just pointing the bike straight up for an hour+.
Agreed. I lived and raced in CO, and did some of the big climbing events, like the Mt Evans Hillclimb. Riding uphill for 28 miles is a slog, but do-able with persistence. Out here in PA, though, we have shorter but steeper climbs. Yesterday I was on a paved road that maxed out at 25% grade; the climb wasn't too long, but that is steep.
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Old 08-05-19, 10:49 AM
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I was on one of these climbs a few years ago at night when my dynamo stopped working.

That was the night the lights went out in Georgia.
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Old 08-05-19, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
For cyclists, the paving of Pikes Peak is a mixed blessing;
When it was gravel, cyclists were prohibited.
Since it has been paved, cyclists are allowed.
Ah, interesting. I'd only ever followed it for the automotive hill climb and there was much contentious discussion about the paving.

Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
The climb from Big Pine (3988’) to White Mountain Peak (14,252’) might be the most vertical in the US.
That's awesome. What are the altitude effects like doing it as one ride? I was talking to another racer about elevation racing and he said he needed something like 15 gear inches just to turn over the pedals once he got above 10,000" - also mentioned he preferred 26" wheels because they were just easier the higher you went.
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Old 08-05-19, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
That's awesome. What are the altitude effects like doing it as one ride?
Well, I definitely noticed a drop in my power output above about 12,000 feet. I slept at altitude for a few days beforehand, which I think helped overall.

How you feel at altitude and how you're performing may not match up. When I rode up Mt. Evans on a road bike, I felt really strong towards the summit. Later, I checked my stats. My climbing rate wasn't anything to write home about, the road grade just wasn't very steep.
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Old 08-05-19, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
It is definitely a grind, more so because there is no water on the route. We hid some water near the Schulman Grove visitor's center the day before.

The worst part was the pounding on the body during the descent on washboard surfaces. That beat me up pretty badly, a hardtail was probably not the best choice.

It took days to recover from the beating. Here are my notes:

Ride day: 82.7 miles, 12,480 feet, 9 hours 21 minutes; bonked (dummy), sore ankles/wrists/back
Next day: drive home, sore & tired
Next day: rest day, still sore and tired
Next day: 43.9 miles, 3540 feet, 3 hours 10 minutes; recovery ride, left hip still sore

Here's the route on ridewithgps

EDIT: Photos of White Mountain — some taken during the ride.
Awesome. Thanks!

(So.... I'm not ready to agree that the longest hardest climbs are in Georgia.)
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Old 08-05-19, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
But I'm curious what y'all have in your areas.

Down here we got the Cohutta, the best climbs of which are just south of the Tennessee border. Did this yesterday, it's a monster. Entirely gravel with varying surface, short sections of smooth dirt, a ton of embedded rock, loose crusher run, lots of washboard and dozens of punchy 9-11% sections - that are also loose and chunky. It ate up a ton of riders, I passed several that were riding strong until mile 7-8 and then ended up walking after a seriously steep loose section. Guy ahead of me stopped, sat on the ground and when I asked if he was ok he said "I just can't climb anymore right now" with a thousand yard stare into the trees. The future as a chunky gravel road stretching up into the sky you climb but it never ends.



Anyway, my thread prompt was I saw a couple riders I follow on Strava (Erik Newsholme & Brian Toone) did Pikes Peak but I've given to understand that's been paved. So I was genuinely curious who has access to the longest unpaved climb. I suspect it's out in Colorado or Washington somewhere. Or even *gasp* California. Even if it is longer I bet it's not as hard as our stuff, Georgia gravel is the best. Unless I move somewhere else then that gravel'll be the best
Maybe a little OT, but please share some details on that bike. Suspension with drop bars? What frame is it? There are definitely some tough climbs in the Cohuttas. Did the potato patch climb last November. IIRC it was 1,500 ft climbing, with 12-15% grades. Took about an hour to climb, half hour to descend in rainy weather :-D

Dave
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Old 08-05-19, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
Suspension with drop bars?
Fun orthogonal fact: the bicycle in my photos above is a Stumpjumper.
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Old 08-05-19, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
So I was genuinely curious who has access to the longest unpaved climb. I suspect it's out in Colorado or Washington somewhere. Or even *gasp* California.
I bet it's in one of the three states you mentioned. A lot of our state is Wilderness which means no roads, no bikes. So we might not have it.

The hardest gravel ride I did had 10 miles of chipseal at the beginning, probably disqualifies it. Involves 4,200' of vert, and drop dead gorgeous scenery.

Maybe the most impressive 100 % gravel ride I've done is Slate Peak, from Dead Horse Point. That was also about 4,200' of vert, over 10 miles, with sunshine at the bottom and icy trees at the top. This is the highest road in Washington. A thru-hiker who had just spent the spring, summer, and early fall walking from Mexico to Canada was seriously impressed that a person would want to ride a bike up that mountain.

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2023537925



The road goes right through a meadow.



I'd been wanting to do this ride for years, but the yellow trees are what I came for. It was the bike equivalent of a larch march.

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Old 08-05-19, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bonsai171 View Post
Maybe a little OT, but please share some details on that bike. Suspension with drop bars? What frame is it? There are definitely some tough climbs in the Cohuttas. Did the potato patch climb last November. IIRC it was 1,500 ft climbing, with 12-15% grades. Took about an hour to climb, half hour to descend in rainy weather :-D

Dave
Bike was a 2010 Breezer Thunder Comp 26" hardtail. It was stock as a 9 speed so I just converted from 3x to 2x and added road shifters. I loved it...until I rode a 29er and was blown away how much better the bigger wheels worked for me. Now I'm on a drop-bar Charge Hi29er.

What I started with to test the drop-bar MTB waters:


Bike I've settled on, I do all my gravel rides up around Cohutta on this bike. Works so great on the descents, I'm not good enough technically to enjoy them on a regular gravel bike.


You know I've been out there a half dozen times now and I still don't know which climb is Potato Patch. I know where the mountain is but seems like everyone has a different segment they call by the same name.

Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Maybe the most impressive 100 % gravel ride I've done is Slate Peak, from Dead Horse Point. That was also about 4,200' of vert, over 10 miles, with sunshine at the bottom and icy trees at the top. This is the highest road in Washington.
Is that this climb? If it is man that looks like a real butt kicker
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