Know Your Enemy – Hills

Finally the top of the Hill

Overall, I’d classify myself as a fan of hills. Maybe it is because my Midwest upbringing lacked their dramatic presence. Or standing atop them makes for scenic photos. Or sometimes, on the way down, you can bike so fast you cry.

Getting up hills is another issue. The other day I was cranking up an unexpected hill. I should have known there would be a hill; the town name has the word “hill” in it. While I had failed to make the connection, it is no surprise considering towns called Lake _____ generally have lakes in them and so on.

Going through my head was “this is steep.” Then I looked to the side of the road and noticed there was no sidewalk. The sidewalk had turned into stairs. As demonstrated in the picture below, I had come upon the cyclocross-portage point: where paved roads become stairs.

Graph of Where Paved Roads Become Stairs

Where Paved Roads Become Stairs

(The area under the curve is probably some value a power meter could tell you in your online training log).

Today I came across Rapha’s Great Road Climbs of the Southern Alps book. Now I personally, was looking for great road climbs of the Northern Alps, maybe next year. But as a history geek, I’d probably enjoy the tales of the elite cyclists who’ve exhausted themselves cranking up these roads and the breathtaking photos to tell the story. So if you’re looking for a $65 coffee table book and you like bicycling, this is probably a good choice.

Although, for my time and money, I’d rather get out there and find my own roads to travel.

Where’s your Great Road Climb of the Potomac Valley?


One response to “Know Your Enemy – Hills

  1. I biked thru Washington too, coming from Harper’s Ferry and on my way to the Atlantic.
    The whole story is told in 4′ at

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