I live at the top of what is known in Bellingham as Alabama Hill. The hill itself is the at the east-most end of Alabama Street—a major thoroughfare in town. It’s a bitch of a hill in anybody’s reckoning. Even cars don’t like it which is kind of amazing because cars are pretty neutral about…well…everything. But that doesn’t seem to stop their owners from seeing how much gas they can burn through by gunning their vehicles up the hill which is why I don’t bike up the hill. Plus there are no bike lanes!
Actually, that’s not true, I wouldn’t bike up that hill if traffic were nonexistent and bike lanes were. The hill goes from 114 feet in elevation to 400 feet in about 3/4 of a mile—a 7% grade for a 285-foot climb. It’s not that I think I’m incapable of climbing it. It’s just that I’m not into any form of masochism. It seems I’m not the only one who feels that way. You hardly ever see a cyclist climbing the hill. Except for the time a few years ago when they had an Iron Man qualifying triathlon here in town and participants had to climb the hill twice which was impressive in the way that anything you can’t see yourself doing is impressive. The only triathlon I could qualify for would be something called the Jello Man and that would have to be without the swimming or the running which would technically make it a unithlon.
Sometimes you’ll see walkers and runners on the sidewalks of Alabama Hill but from the “I-just-made-the-biggest-mistake-of-my-life” look on their faces, it doesn’t seem like they’re having much fun. So, I use the trail system which serpentines it’s way across the elevation instead of a straight shot up or down. It’s also a nice trip through the woods and along Whatcom Creek, which beats the heck out of riding up a steep-ass hill through traffic anytime.
When I said I live at the top of Alabama Hill, I actually meant that I live on top of the top of the hill so that by the time I return from wherever it is I’m going to on any given day, my elevation gain is somewhere between 500-700 feet so for me the serpentining trail system totally rocks! There are still some decent to steep climbs along the way and by the time I get home, I’ve had a good, sweaty, workout.