Our second installment of the Classic Climb Series is the Col du Bugai, one of the massive lumps that crowd around the highest point in Grand Traverse County.
The highest points in Grand Traverse County and Leelanau County are actually within two miles of each other. The top of our little world is at Barney Road, nearly to Solon Road of M-72 and Cedar Run. That's only about 3 miles from the lowest point, which is West Bay, making the hill the biggest opportunity for elevation gain.
Of the plethora of climbs clustered thereby, the Col du Bugai is not tackled quite as frequently as many others. While climbs like Grandview, Philosophy and others are used nearly every ride, the climb of Bugai seems to be reserved for special tests. Running from north to south, it's often the last ascent of the day and a grueling one after a long day in the saddle.
The climb looms on the horizon as rider near the base, glimpsed through the trees from miles away. The early slopes are gradual and the road only tickles 2% until riders clear the start of the guardrail that stretches most of the way up. The first ramp comes up to 5% and it's where riders first fight the urge to drop into the small ring. With a tailwind, the speed can stay high, but without it or in a headwind, the speed finally starts to fall.
A brief false flat grants a temporary reprieve, but gives way to a tougher, steep crawl to the intersection of East Lincoln Road. Here, the grade sniffs 10% and the lazy left hand curl brings riders out of the trees and to the exposed farm fields on either side. If there's a time for the pure climbers to make the difference, there is no better spot.
In all, it's 1.5 miles of consistent grade that averages out to 4%, with the steepest point tipping to 13.5%. The climb would seem to suit big, powerful riders and, for the most part, the current leader board is filled with diesels like Chris Kushman and John Leach. The title is held by Ty Schmidt, a rider capable of adding that extra touch of pace over the steeper sections, similar to the likes of Ryan Bolin or Brian Hofstra.
You can see all the data and the full leaderboard here.