Monday, June 08, 2009

The Montreux Climb is a Piece of Cake

Eric "Lo-Phat" Gunnerson recently published an excellent preview of the upcoming Livestrong course where he wrote the following words of caution:

Montreux is, to put it simply, a beast. If you have a climbing cassette for your bike, bring it. If you have a small electric assist-motor, bring it. If you have a supply of EPO, use it. If you are like me, you will be spending about 20 minutes of time on this hill. On the upside, the pavement is excellent, and there's also a view, if you have the oxygen to turn around and see it.
Right from the start, it's at about 10% for the first little bit, then it will turn a bit to the left and ease down to around 7%. Then it will kick up to about 14% for a bit, taper down to 10%, up to 14%, and then there's a nice section that's even steeper. I was climbing at about 3.9 MPH on that section.
I really recommend finding time to pre-ride this hill, so that you know what you're in for.
Now despite living in the Issaquah Alps area for years and having ridden up and down various roads and trails on Tiger, Cougar, Squak, and Taylor Mountains, I couldn't actually recall riding Montreux. Probably because I've opted to ride the even more beastly Zoo Hill or maybe I was having one of those episodes where I'm blocking out a particularly painful memory.

This morning, I decided to check out Montreux.

Now I go by the turns for Zoo Hill

and Montreux every day on my commute but somehow when I'm either going to work or going home, the tendency is to continue straight to my destination and not indulge in a bit of extra alpine adventure. But Mondays and Tuesdays are my virtual weekend and this looked like just the day to check out the climb.

The Montreux climb is a piece of cake on a bike with a single 42*17 gear ratio. A piece of stale cake that lodges in your throat and threatens to cut off all oxygen. And if, I'm just saying if, mind you, a fellow were to happen to stop at the part of the hill that Eric describes as "a nice part that's even steeper" (than 14%) to peal off his jacket and take a picture of the nice roadside flowers, he might find he has one hell of a time turning the pedal over from a dead stop.

The view from the crest is pretty good.

Going down the other side, (which is the easy way to go up Cougar Mountain!) I get to use that fancy freewheeling option I put on the Shogun. Handy for situations like this.

My single-speeding plan for the Livestrong seems doable. I'll work the Montreux climb into my commute a few times a week between now and the ride and of course when I do the ride for real, I won't be lugging around all this heavy hair on the top of my head.

Keep 'em rolling,

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