In the lead up to the 2015 Tour de France, we've spent way too much time thinking what we'd include if Northern Michigan could somehow host a TdF stage. While lacking true mountains, the sheer volume of punchy, dragging and wearing climbs would make for an unforgettable stage, putting even WorldTour veterans to the test. We've picked a few of our most favorite climbs to include in a route.
Hlavka Road has two directions, much like some of the more famous ascents in Europe. It's not unusual for the secondary approach to be equal in difficulty but vastly outmatched in terms of fame and reputation. We've picked yet another Pancake Ride staple, Hlavka Road EB, for our next Classic Climb.
Too often, the climb gets buried in as just another ascent in the constant roll of hills en route to the finish on Philosophy. Almost always on the toes or heels of its twin climb Trumbell, Hlavka oftern serves as the final softening up effort ahead of Tower Road, the steepest of any climb in Northern Michigan.
But it's a special climb in its own right, with some changes of gradient that make it tough for the rouleurs to just power up, but not quite steep enough for the pure climbers to make the gaps necessary to stay away to Maple City.
The lower slopes are a pedestrian 3% gradient, often taken at over 20mph as riders make the turn from Bohemian Road with a full head of steam. The first real kick comes with the curve of the road, tilting up to 7% as it dog legs to the right. It's here, under a smothering tree cover and in the shadows thereunder, that the test begins to tell. If the pace is on, everyone is up out of the saddle and pushing on, emerging out back into daylight as the road relents to 3% again to the summit. The climb's numbers end up at .9 miles, gaining 234 feet at an average gradient of 5%.
As expected, Chris Kushman holds a solid KOM here, with the road almost perfectly constructed to his specifications; never too steep, but tough enough to break apart even a high caliber field. His time is only just out of reach from Ty Schmidt, with a host of riders posting their best times on Pancake Rides past in 2013 and 2014