I still had a little left in my legs after Saturday’s ride. I also had a lot of free time. Usually I prepare for a number of hours for these events, but we went so fast and started early that almost a full day remained. After eating lunch with friends, I put on my safari hat and decided to do a little exploring.
The Dutch Fork area has a number of standing rides and I have been here several times. This area rivals the fort as being the cycling mecca of Columbia. Mike Stuck Road had been mentioned many times by my rider friends, but nobody wanted to ride it. “Too steep,” they said, “20% in parts.” I have ridden by it many times and looked at it curiously, one time even driving it along my way back from another ride. To me, it was quickly becoming a road of legend — the El Dorado of Columbia.
A friend of mine was riding back to his house and would be going right by there. That was a good opportunity for some company. I would ride halfway with him, check out Mike Stuck, and then ride back.
I turned onto Mike Stuck and instantly started descending. This is a gravelly, near deserted country road with only a few houses and a lake. Nice place to cycle, I thought. The descent continued for a couple miles, but didn’t seem overly steep. I wondered if maybe this thing was over-hyped. My expectations were sufficiently reduced. There is a slight climb on the other side of Stuck, but nothing crazy. Before turning around, I descended down into Peak and took the hairpin curve, then climbed back out of it. Always love that part.
After another short descent, I could tell that the climb was just in front of me. It pitches upward and then banks to the right and is mostly obscured by trees, so you really cannot tell from the bottom how steep it is. I shifted down to the little ring just in case.
I started the slow climb. The road got steeper, steeper, and then even steeper. My Garmin was showing 15-16% at some parts. I grunted my way through the toughest park and the climb continued, although at a significantly lower grade. It continued until nearly the end of the road.
That was quite a hill. Maybe the toughest grunt hill in Columbia (there aren’t many!). It certainly lived up to the hype and might be worth as a training tool in the future.
March 30th, 2012 at 11:11 pm
The grunt hill here in Greenville is Audubon at the base of Paris Mtn. Switchbacks in the mid 20%’s. Same situation where the road is very unassuming until you crest a hill and are then faced with a menacing wall.