With a climb-heavy Tour de France now just a few weeks off, we've been wondering what it would be like to host a Tour de France stage right here in Traverse City, Michigan. While Northern Michigan lacks the Alpine passes and the steeps of the Pyrenees, there's no doubt Benzie, Leelanau, and Grand Traverse Counties could offer up some unforgettable moments on any stage.
We are rolling out a series of can't miss ascents over the next three weeks, something we'd love to toss the pros over, and tests you can try right in your own backyard. Long and short, steep and gradual, we're lucky to have such an array of hills in the area.
First up is an urban myth, the oft-repeated but never conquered Wayne Hill. Located in the Slabtown district, this steep test is all-too-conveniently located at the start and end of most rides. It's the legendary tack-on; if there's anything left in the tank after a big ride in the County, Wayne Hill is usually the place to empty the dregs.
Riders are welcomed onto the slopes at an impolite 7% gradient that slowly winds itself up into 10% for stretches at the base. Luckily, the slower part of the hill is lined on either side by trees and houses, keeping the road out of the wind until roughly the halfway mark. Here, rival schools of thought argue about the direction of the climb; left and on Wayne to the summit, or right onto Inochee, where the climbs levels off slightly before kicking to 15%. The true climb is straight/left, on Wayne, although people can ride either way.
Here, the roadsides open up and the trees are gone. Winding up at a steady 8-10%, the climbers are exposed to the winds, usually head to cross from the north or northwest. The pavement is cracked and crumbling, forcing riders to keep their eyes up to stay on the smoothest stretch of asphalt to keep momentum. The final curl to the right brings the summit nearly into view, and with it, one of the nicest overlooks in the entire state. Reward yourself with a panoramic of West Bay, Downtown Traverse City, and the base of Old Mission Peninsula.
Who would excel on such a climb from the WorldTour? It's hard to imagine a full 200 man peloton crashing onto the slopes of Wayne Hill, but out of such a mass light, punchy climbers like Katusha's Joquiam Rodriguez and Daniel Moreno, or Trek Factory Racing's Julian Arredondo. The locals have their own pecking order; TC's own, and current pro in Utah, Joergen Trepp has the KOM, tailed by Dan Hofstra and Ty Schmidt. Lauri Brockmiller has the QOM, followed by a two-way tie between Jennifer Brown and Sara Nestor.
Wayne Hill Details
Distance: .5 Miles
Average Grade: 9%
Elevation Gain: 273 feet