Saturday as I was riding in Think Spring, I started thinking about how I would rate the hills in the Cuyahoga Valley using the ski resort rating system. Mind you, the Valley is its own experience so you have to imagine it like the Breckenridge of NE Ohio (although, there are also other very hilly places in Ohio that would probably make the Valley look like Holiday Valley in comparison). Here is how I would classify each rating:
Green – These are good hills to learn how to climb hills on, hills I’ve personally used to train myself for climbing bigger and harder things. I wouldn’t assume these hills are easy to someone who has never climbed a major hill, but they are good starting point on which to practice. If you can do them without getting off your bike, you can probably try something a little harder.
Blue – These hills are a little more challenging, a little steeper than the green hills. I would move to them next after feeling comfortable on greens.
Black – Not for the faint of heart, these climbs usually require major cardio output and lots of spinning. They are often a struggle to keep yourself going on. Even experienced riders admit to the vast superiority of these hills.
Double-black – In most cases, these are hills even I’m too scared to attempt due to their reputation.
Anyway, I wanted to share what I thought and, if you’re a regular rider in the valley, feel free to comment, suggest a different rating, or add personal experience of a climb.
West “Face” of the Valley:
East “Face” of the Valley
I’ve never done Smith Road–too highly trafficked–but most of us cyclists have expressed an interest in attempting it early some morning when there is lighter traffic. I would suspect that this road is a black. It seems pretty hard going up it by car. I’m not sure I’m ready for it.
North Portage Path (towards Stan Hywit Hall) now has a bike lane on it. Reports from TDB, who has climbed it, is that it’s a bit nasty. It looks blackish to me by car, but not too scary that I don’t want to attempt it, especially now that it has a dedicated bike lane. Though, I really don’t like to climb where traffic is passing me because I’m self-conscious about drivers watching me. A lot of Ohio motorists have a nasty habit of screaming out the window at cyclists to scare them and sometimes guys will cat-call out the window, which makes me uncomfortable. So I don’t know if I will get over my self-consciousness to attempt it.
Portage Trail is road that I use frequently in the car to get out of the Merriman Valley towards home. It too looks like it might be a fun challenging climb; however, it’s really trafficked and doesn’t have a dedicated bike lane. I sure wish they would build more bike lanes down in the valley. Perhaps it would calm down all the angry drivers and the city of Cuyahoga Falls whose officials seem intent on squeezing cyclists out down the valley by coming up with ridiculous rules every few weeks to come down hard on cyclists about.
Anyway, I might have missed a couple of climbs. I was mostly thinking about the roads we frequently use. I’ve also heard rumor of this Stanford Road that merges with Brandywine. It’s technically closed, but people like to do it to add the extra challenge of navigating broken pieces of road while climbing. A friend showed me a picture he took of it–looks quite beautiful. But you should definitely use more knobby tires than what my bike has. I’m told it’s a great place to take a cycle-cross bike.