What the hell?

Yeah, I know.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

No, seriously, why?

Here's the story.

Despite being on the taller side, I considered myself a bit of a hill afficianado. I'm the proprietor of BicycleClimbs.com, and I've ridden up most of the hills on the eastside.

A while back, I was reading an article about Ronde PDX in Portland, which is 50-some miles and 7900' of climbing. Knowing the hills around here, I didn't think I could come up with a ride that was quite that bad, but maybe I could come close. Challenge accepted.

I started with the obvious - any ride like this needs to head up Zoo and bag Pinnacles and Belvedere on the way down. And then I started adding on additional hills. As the miles went up, so did the elevation. I hit 7000' easily, and then I started playing around, until I got to 8200'.

And then I started pre-riding the route, and found out that perhaps I'm not really a hill afficianado...

How hard is the ride?

Very. You just won't believe how painfully hard it is. You may think it's a rough grind up the 520 hill, but that's just peanuts compared to this ride.

(with apologies to Douglas Adams)

How steep is it?

15% sections are common enough to not really be notable, there are a few sections at 20%, and then there are the steep parts...

So, yeah, I'd call that pretty steep.

What sort of gearing should I bring?

The lower the better. There are some sections where it is possible to tack/paperboy back and forth across the road , and then there are others where this isn't really possible. I ride a lot of hills, and I found that I was not unhappy to have a 30/27 on the steepest hills when I pre-rode the route. But I'm big at 6'1" 180 lbs, so you may be able to get away with something lighter.

I'm interested in the ride but don't know if I can do it

Technically, that's a statement rather than a question, but I'll see if I can help.

My general advice is that if you have to ask this question, you probably already know the answer, but I'm a fan of overreaching, so here's my real advice.

Go out and ride the 4th hill, and then choose one of the following answers:

  1. Meh. I could do more.

  2. Ouch. That was unpleasant.

  3. Completed it, but was in the fetal position for (circle one)

    1. 5 minutes

    2. 15 minutes

    3. 1 hour

    4. Am still in the fetal position

  4. Bagged out (circle the one that applies)

    1. When I saw the hill

    2. When it first kicked up

    3. When it kicked up the second time

    4. When I hit the connector after Montreux. WTF?

    5. On the top of (circle) Zoo / Pinacle / Belvedere

If you answered "yes" to #1, you will be fine. You will provide no competition to me, as you will be far, far ahead.

If you answered "yes" to #2, I'd say that you are prime Sufferin' Summits material. You should do the ride and possibly seek professional help.

If you answered "yes" to #3 or #4, I fear that the ride may permanently injure you. You are welcome to start and ride, but I'm not sure you'll make it through all 8 hills.

Are there shorter options for the ride?

Yes. There are "quarter" and "half" options. These are good options for riders who are smarter.

I've done all these hills. Why should I go in this ride?

On each of the hills, I've done my best to make them special, so we generally do not go up the easiest route. And there are a few sections that are especially special...

Why isn't hill <x> on the route?

There are two likely answers:

The first is that, while the hill is worthy of inclusion, it doesn't really fit into the route. This is generally because it takes a while to get there. If you wish, you can experiment; figure out how much elevation the climb adds and divide it by the extra length, and if its under 146, it would make the ride easier. Even if it adds enough steepness, it may make the ride longer than I would like it to be.

The second is that I think it would be unsafe, due to road conditions and/or traffic.

The third is that it's just not hard enough.

When will the route be available?

A preview is here.

How about an *elevation* profile?

Is the ride timed?

Yeah. No. The last thing we need is people trying to go fast on descents and being a hazard to themselves and others.

Are there any prizes for finishing first?

Sufferin Summits is pass-fail, so no. There is no prize for finishing at all.

How does this ride compare to 7 Hills?

Ah. That's a good question. The hardest hills on 7 hills are, by my estimation, Seminary Hill (#3), Norway Hill (#4), and Winery Hill (#6). The majority of the hills on Sufferin' Summits are steeper than these, and the majority are also much longer; the 7 hills climbs are only in the 400' range, and this route features 4 climbs that are more than 1000' of elevation.

Or, to look at it another way...

7 Hills climbs 3000' over 40 miles, for 75' per mile. Sufferin' climbs 146' per mile.

How does this ride compare to P2P?

They are in the same class. Some riders think that P2P is harder, some think that Sufferin' Summits is harder, and we don't have a very big sample yet.

I think that Burma Road is maybe a little steeper than the steepest this ride offers, but I think there are more sections just a little easier than Burma than on P2P. So... I'm interesting in finding out.

Not that it really matters which one is harder. They will both be nasty.

I will note that P2P clocks in at 121' of climbing per mile, while Sufferin' Summits clocks in at a scorching 146' of climbing per mile.

How does this ride compare to STP?

Really? You're not serious... you can't be serious. You want me to compare this to STP?

Okay, I'll do my best

Both STP and Sufferin' Summits are ridden mostly on roads by people on bicycles.

"The Hill" in Puyallup on STP is about 300' of elevation gain over a mile of riding. It averages about 6% and peaks at around 8%. Pretty much every hill on Sufferin' Summits is steeper than that - many are twice as steep - and there are four climbs that are over 1000'.

 What is the ride's motto?

There is no official motto. The unofficial motto is:

"A Special Kind of Stupid"

as in "It takes a special kind of stupid to go on a ride like that"...

I am also quite fond of, "The only winning move is not to ride"...

If you have other ideas, please let me know.

I want to thank and/or complain the designer? How can I contact him?

The simplest thing to do is hit the ride page on Facebook and leave feedback there.  If you prefer email, you can find me at:

eric_gunnerson (at) hotmail.com

What is your mascot's name?

"Sufferin' Sam" is his current name. His name may change if somebody comes up with a name I like better.