OH, IT BURNS!Ed Bidinotto
Climb #1 - CHEYENNE CANYON
This well known brute of a climb starts at the Starsmore Center.
2120 S. Cheyenne Canyon Rd., Colorado Springs, CO, 80906
The Starsmore Discovery Center is located at the entrance to the 1600 acre North Cheyenne Canon City Park. The Starsmore Center is one of Colorado Springs' oldest regional parks along with being a nature and interpretive center.
3.1 miles and 1200ft. Avg 8% grade for 5 km continuous sections of 9%-10% and a few short areas of 12%
Tom Danielsons record: 13:34
This ride starts off easy enough at the Starsmore Center, however it quickly reminds you that this is a very sustained canyon ride. Somehow the water running through the stream and the beauty of the canyon cannot take your mind off the task at hand.
This three mile climb will tax your legs and you will be trying to get your breath as you slowly work your way around the curves towards Helen Hunt Falls. Once you hit the falls you think it’s over, but there is still another stretch around the bend and it stays with you all the way to the dirt parking lot.
Climb #2 -HIGBY ROAD
Higby Road is off of Jackson Creek Parkway, north of Gleneagle and East of I-25. This four mile stretch of road does not have a big bike lane, however it generally does not have a lot of traffic so it’s bike friendly in that sense.
What Higby Road offers up is a series of rolling hills. You will encounter a 4%-5% grade at Struthers and Higby and after one mile you won’t find more than 7% max. However as the hills head east, they get progressively more difficult.
The third and fourth hills are most likely the toughest with max grades of 13%-14% near the top and sustained grades of 10%.
Follow this four mile climb all the way to Roller Coaster Road in the Black Forest and you will have an amazing workout.
Climb #3-BLODGETT DRIVE
Blodgett Drive is not a huge hill by any stretch of the imagination, however it is a good hill to add to your training rides on the west side of town. You can also combine this with some of the honorable mention rides at the end of this article.
Blodgett can be reached by taking Centennial Blvd North from Garden of the Gods Road approximately 5.2 miles. Centennial will turn into Woodmen Road at this point.
From Garden of the Gods Road and Centennial, head north and you will have a sustained grade of 5%-6% on Centennial Blvd with a max grade of 9% at Orchard Valley Drive.
This road levels off a bit and presents three options as you come to the top of Centennial Blvd / Woodmen Road.
Option 1 – take a left hand turn on the first Blodgett Drive you come to. This will circle back around to Woodmen Road. Max grade 11%, avg grade 8% in .5 of a mile.
Option 2 – take the 2nd left turn on Blodgett Drive and circle back to Woodmen Road. You will find a max grade of 12% with an average grade of 10% in .6 of a mile.
Option 3 – Follow Woodmen and take your first right turn at mile 5.5 on Lower Blodgett Drive. Cross Woodmen and continue up Blodgett Drive. The lower Blodgett Drive .3 of a mile long will present you with a max 8% sustained grade up to Woodmen Road.
No matter which way you do it - this hill your legs will be worked.
Climb #4 - FLYING W RANCH ROAD TO ROSSMERE / WILSON
I was surprised that this would be the toughest ride on the west side of town, but when I rode it I found out why it hurts.
Centennial Blvd to the Rossmere St- .6 mile with a 3% max gradient
Make the right turn on Rossmere St. - .8 of a mile. A very sustained 10% grade with three short sections of 12% until you get to Wilson Road.
Rossmere from the Chuckwagon Road side will give you .8 of a mile, with a 10% max and a very sustained 8% from Flying W. Ranch Road.
This ride will give you everything you want if you add it to your hill workouts.
Climb #5 -GOLD CAMP ROAD via 26th Street
Gold Camp Road starts at Bear Creek Drive. You can get there by riding up 26th street from Old Colorado City finding a very continuous 6% grade with a maximum short grade of 10% as you round the “S” curve near the top.
26th street is 2.6 miles from Colorado Ave to the base of Gold Camp.
Gold Camp itself is actually an easy 2.3 mile ride from the base of Bear Creek Drive to the dirt turnaround at the top.
However even though 4% does not seem like much, it will add up on your legs as you spin up the 2.6 miles. You won’t encounter much over 5% as you climb the hill, however you will find deer, nice homes, good roads and a scenic view at the top.
The following rides should be in the top ten and are certainly worth mentioning here. They will provide you with the maximum burn depending on how fast you ride them, at what point you add them in the ride and if you just want long sustained climbs.
ORION and HYDRA DRIVE
Start pedaling at Parkview Blvd off of Cresta Road.
2.2 miles – max gradient of 12% on Hydra. Very sustained grades of 10% on Orion Drive. Hydra Drive is only .2 of a mile long but it hits you with a 12% grade about 100 ft from Gold Camp Road.
Chuckwagon Road starts at Centennial Blvd and goes to Flying W. Ranch Road.
This is only .7 of a mile long but it has a sustained grade of 8% and a max of 11% for a short section.
STAR RANCH ROAD
Star Ranch Road is at the intersection of Hwy 115.
The road immediately kicks up to 11% at the bottom and stays a consistent 9% - 10% for 1.5 miles. This ride is in the beautiful Broadmoor area and has great views and amazing homes at the top.
Running parallel up the hill to Star Ranch Road you will find Farthing Drive a little bit south starting at hwy 115 and Academy Blvd. This winding road will present you with a similar set of gradients as Star Ranch Road in 1.8 miles.
BROADMOOR BLUFFS DRIVE
Once again begin riding from highway 115 and Academy Blvd up the hill. You will actually pass the turnoff to Farthing Drive on your right as you head up and west.
This is a great road but it has very sustained grades of 8% - 10% and a max gradient of 12% in 2.5 miles as you reach Paisley Drive at the top of the Broadmoor. Stop and check out the views before you head downhill.
Some say it’s the PWR (Power to Weight Ratio), i.e., how many watts per kg you are able to crank out for your height, weight. Lose weight or push harder seems to be the key to it all. Power watt meters, physiological limitations, training methods, and lighter equipment all come into play here.
At age 59, I’m not sure I will get very much faster on the hills I’ve written about but I will keep trying to improve. If I don’t knock 10 minutes off my time up Cheyenne Canyon or try to beat Tom Danielson’s record
– I’ll just enjoy riding and making it to the top.