High On Bike

A Bellinghamster On Wheels

The Hill Less Climbed, Or Not At All


Alabama Hill 1I 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 lAlabama Hill 2anes 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.


Author: d2

I ride because it's fun. It's also healthy, good for the environment, and my gas budget but if it wasn’t fun, none of that would matter. It's what gets me on my bike almost every day, even when I'm tired, not feeling my best, or just not in the mood. No other form of "exercise" has equaled it. I used to love to run but I was injury-prone and couldn't do it every day. I certainly couldn't jog down to the store and come home with dinner. Walking is okay but definitely falls around midpoint on the fun scale. I enjoy it, especially when I'm walking with a friend, but am not exhilarated by it. So I ride.

5 thoughts on “The Hill Less Climbed, Or Not At All

  1. That sounds like the type of hill I would also avoid, and/or I would also have that same face! I hate climbing steep hills (it’s actually the inspiration for tomorrow’s comic, oddly enough!)

    • Hills are no fun. I’m currently treating a strained knee for climbing one too aggressively. Ugh!

      • You are so right about Alabama Hill — I hate driving my car up that hill! Can’t even imagine riding a bike there. But then again with the trail system available, why would anyone even try to ride a bike up Alabama?? I know, the die-hards will say, “Because it’s there!”

      • I did that with Barkley Hill and I will NEVER ride that one again. Between the traffic and the physical agony it was a miserable ride.

  2. Pingback: Oy! Again With The Hills | High On Bike

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