King of the Hills

Part of my triathlon training schedule is Tuesday bike hill repeats with my triathlon club.  In general, these repeats are always held at the same location, Ft. Roots, but this past week they were moved to River Mountain Road due to some glass on the road.  Then, the inevitable discussion came up, which hill is harder?  Well, I decided to compare the three hills in Little Rock/North Little Rock that cyclists love/hate to climb.

Fort Roots
The first hill I’ll discuss is Fort Roots, or Roots as some people call it.  This hill is the longest of the three hills and is the site of the All in Multisport regular Tuesday evening hill repeats and is located in North Little Rock just off the River Trail.  It has relatively low traffic, but there is a bus route that goes along this road.  This hill also has one tight switchback and one steep switchback to add to the misery fun!  Once you get to the top, there is a nice little driveway where we generally re-group, but you could also ride through the circle at the Veteran’s Hospital for an active recovery, if you so wish.  There is also a newly connected bike path at the top of Roots that has an amazing view of downtown Little Rock.

  • Length: 1 mile
  • Start Elevation: 286 ft.
  • Max Elevation: 525 ft.
  • Gain: 308 ft.
  • Climb Rating: 5

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River Mountain Road
This is the road that you would take to get down to go to Two Rivers Bridge by car.  Until the ride on Tuesday, I was intimidated by this hill, but I shouldn’t have been.  Yes, the repeats were still hard, but they were do-able.  This climb is pretty much a straight shot from the bottom to the top, which made it more mentally difficult.  Although it was encouraging to look through trees and see Interstate 430 and know that I was moving faster up hill on my bike than the cars stuck in rush hour traffic…suckers!  This hill does have quite a bit of traffic on it because it is the main way for people to access Two Rivers Bridge by car and when you get to the top, there really isn’t a big reward.  We re-grouped in a driveway a few hundred yards from the stop light at Cantrell, but really you just get up to a whole bunch of traffic.  Going down is pretty fun since it is a straight shot, but you do have to be careful going over the railroad tracks at the bottom.

  • Length: 0.85 miles
  • Start Elevation: 241 ft.
  • Max Elevation: 522 ft.
  • Gain: 249 ft.
  • Climb Rating: 5

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The beastliest of them all!  I try to avoid going up this hill at all costs because it gets incredibly steep in some sections and also plays tricks on you. I have climbed it successfully several times on my mountain bike, but never on my road bike or tri bike.  It’s unfortunate that this hill is so  steep because this hill is a great access point to the River Trail from my house.  I know I should probably just suck it up and go up it, but I choose not to.  I’ll go down it and take a long way (read: less steep) way back to my house.  There are some pretty rough sections on this road, that could be a problem on the way down.  There is minimal traffic and when you get to the top you are in a neighbor which is nice, especially if you live in or near said neighborhood.  This hill also has great accessibility to the River Trail with the Big Dam Bridge just a few hundred yards from the base.

  • Length: 0.92 miles
  • Start Elevation: 268 ft.
  • Max Elevation: 627 ft.
  • Gain: 387 ft.
  • Climb Rating: 4

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So these are the three major hills in Little Rock that people love/hate to climb.  Climbing is a great skill to practice on the bike because it can help you to build speed in the flats, but it is also a great test of mental strength and it pushes the limits of your heart rate.  Get out and climb one or these, or all three of these today!

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