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Them Thar Hills

Life in the Bike Lane

Tom Frady

If you know me (and if you do, I apologize) I really don’t like climbing hills on my bike. But unless you are willing to ride to Wheatland every ride, (as I am fond of saying) “Ya gotta climb sumthin”.

From Lincoln, head to Auburn or Newcastle and you will eventually climb Mt. Vernon, Chili Hill, Baxter Grade (Mt., Hill, Grade. See the pattern?) or Ridge Rd. Less steep, but longer routes are Wise Rd. or Taylor.

A recent detour up Coefield Rd. reminded me there are several challenging climbs not on the main routes, but you may not know about if you aren’t out there riding three times a week or are new to the area. Most of these routes boast beautiful scenery, a greater chance to see some wild life and a chance to get your heart rate up. The following are all within 10 miles of McBean Park in Lincoln.

For reference, in case there is a non-cyclists reading this, a climb having a grade percent in the double digits is steep. 15% steeper. More than that? You might want to find a way around it.

Let’s start with the aforementioned Coefield. Yikes. It looks like someone’s long driveway, not wide enough to do the “paperboy” (weave back and forth) and it’s always in the double digits for .8 of a mile (it’s a dead end), most of it 15-18%. One of the toughest around. It is about .6 of a mile below the fire hall on Wise Rd.

When I say “Butler Rd.”, I actually mean Butler, Gold Rush, Clark Tunnel and Callison, between English Colony and Taylor Rd. These roads total 4.1 miles. The focal point is an 18% bump, but while there are downhill portions, the “rollers” are steep and punishing with several well over 10%. Calllison is especially pretty, albeit the road surface is a little rough in spots.

Garden Bar Rd has three sections, but it’s the northernmost 4.4 miles you may not have ridden. Another dead end, it’s uphill both ways. The climb in is a bit over mile at 7 – 10%. The summit is at mile 1.8, then there is a fun downhill. Fun, until you remember you have to climb it coming back. After crossing Coon Creek, there is some gentle climbing to the end (the road turns to dirt). The big climb back is a little longer, and there is a difference of opinion on whether or not it is harder than the climb in. This is a gorgeous ride. You can pick up this section of Garden Bar off Mt. Pleasant Road.

“Big Park” is in the Whitney Oaks area of Rocklin. And yes, there is a “Little Park”. Park is a wide boulevard with a good bike lane and makes a lazy arc connecting Stanford Ranch and Whitney Oaks. Big Park is a climb that is a consistent 15% for about ½ mile, from stop sign to stop sign. Little Park is about 1.3 miles from 7 – 10%.

If you are heading out to Camp Far West Lake, take a detour to Karchner by heading west on Riosa to Thousand Oaks and turning right. Once you start to climb, you’ll encounter some 11% or more, albeit there are some less steep parts. This section is out in the open. While you’re out in that area, try Forbes, heading north. Pick it up from McCourtney, 10 miles from Lincoln. After some pleasant rollers, the climb is about a half mile at (I’m guessing) about 10-11%. Keep your eyes open for the Shire Draft Horses and llamas. You will end up back on McCourtney from both of these roads.

Of course, whether you’re heading for the hills or moseying around your neighborhood, always maintain the proper physical distance for your activity. And wear your helmet.

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