Ascutney-Okemo Loop Rides in
∑ 61 mile loop, 3 significant climbs, 8800 feet of climbing (per TopoUSA)
∑ 87 mile loop, 4 significant climbs, 11,700 feet of climbing
∑ 94 mile loop, 6 significant climbs, 13,000 feet of climbing
here are three options for a loop that includes Mt Ascutney and
the significant climbs on this ride is briefly discussed below.† The elevation numbers given are min to max,
from low point since last climb to
Mt Ascutney (2250ft)
place to park for this ride is on Rt 44A right at entrance to
This climb is perhaps the hardest of all race climbs.† Itís just short enough that riders push deeply into the anaerobic realm.† Itís just long enough to destroy your legs.† The first 2.5 miles is steeper than any 2.5 mile section of other raced climbs.† It just doesnít give up.† Sections are claimed to be 19%.† But from 2.5 to about 3.3 miles, you get a couple breaks, including a bit that may actual go downhill. †But beware when it goes steep again.† Itís not far from top, some folks let up a bit on the respite, and then delve way to deep into the depths of anaerobic despair to finish it off.† But the top doesnít come soon enough, and most riders explosively hit deflection (forced to back way down) before reaching the top.† If you must hurl, please do so off the pavement.† I think at least one person per race hurls at the finish.
The parking area up top sits in a saddle between two peaks, an upper peak to the north and a lower peak to the south.† They both have communications towers on them, but the bigger peak to north has hiking trails and look-out tower.† Itís about 300 vertical feet to summit.† You wonít want to do this in cycling shoes though.† Some hands and feet bare rock climbing are involved.† If you have somebody going up in car, put on some hiking shoes and check it out.† On days when thermals and wind are right, many hang gliders launch off Ascutney.† Iíve seen over a dozen circling above like eagles.
The descent has improved much over the last couple years with new pavement.† Still though, more care than most descents must be exercised.† It is so steep that most riders, especially bigger riders, require heavy breaking most of the way down.† Every year riders blow tires on this descent.† This is caused by rims overheating and a) increased air pressure blows bead off rim, or b) rim tape inside rim melts and tube blows out through spoke nipple hole.† The later has happened to me twice.† Bigger riders, say those over 165 lbs, or anybody that rides with death-grip on levers all the way down should drop air pressure 10-20 lbs as extra safeguard.† Really big riders should stop and check rims a couple times on way down.† If rim is too hot to hold, let it chill for a while.† Iíve heard of rims warping and spokes breaking on this descent too.† The pavement used to be much rougher, but there are still some serious frost heaves around and the switchbacks havenít changed.
finishing your repeats on Ascutney, grab your water bottles and hit the road
for Okemo.† North on Rt 44A merges back
into Rt 44.† Follow this through
junction with Rt 100, go left into
Looking back part
View part way down
Echo Lake at bottom of Tyson Rd
Amherst Lake along Rt 100 on way to Shrewsbury Rd
Brett, Dave, and Ernie heading north on Rt 100.
The first switchback occurs almost right away.† The second is much further up.† The distance between second and third switchbacks is very long.† The grade never backs off.† It is all very steep, and youíll probably spin your tire if you stand.† You will be riding under a very dense canopy of hardwoods most of the time.† Cars are very infrequent.† In fact, the last time I climbed this road, not one passed in either direction.† But make sure you stay visible to cars around corners and bends, as the road is fairly narrow.† After you round the third switchback, the grade slackens a bit and youíll be thinking the top is near.† Nope.† From third switchback to summit is very long, and some of the steepest pitches are in this section just before the top.† Youíll know them when you see them.† Might make you cuss.
you start going down, you will have crested the
you get to
junction of Rt 155 on Rt 103, there is a gas station/general store.† The pizza there always looks tempting,
sometimes almost 2Ē thick.† I like
thick crust, but I think most east coast natives like it thin.† You can continue on Rt 103 directly to
Looking back on
Okemo Mtn (aka
If you are like me by this point in the ride, you may be wondering why you are out here, you hurt so bad, and how in the heck are you going to survive another 2167ft, 12% climb.† Half of the time Iíve done Ascutney/Okemo loops, it should simply be called an Ascutney loop for some of the riders (myself included).† When you have a couple excellent cafes on either side of the street at the bottom of the climb, it becomes easy to let the others go do their nutty climb thing while you chill out over a cup of joe and pastries.† No problem with that.
But letís assume you are hardcore and want to charge right into this beast.† What is Okemo like?† Well, itís a near twin to Ascutney.† The average grade is just about 12%, the distance about the same but just a tad less vertical.† Also, you wonít get the special treatment that the first 2.5 miles of Ascutney gives you.† The first 2.5 miles of Ascutney is around 15% grade, and the first 2.5 miles on Okemo is 12% at best.† Oh yeah, there is no fee to ride here.
100/103, the climb instantly throws your legs into shock after easy spinning
the last 11 miles.† No easing into this
climb.† It levels off just a bit at the
ski base area (bearing right at fork), but then becomes a serious grind for
much of the remainder.† Youíll be in
the open a lot more on this climb than Ascutney, as you will be
criss-crossing ski runs most of the way up.†
Nice views and gives you a progress report each time you look down on
know when you reach the end, as the road just... ends.† Pavement turns to fire road with closed
gate, and really no parking area to speak of.†
Maybe a dozen cars or so can fit up there.† This is about 150ft vertical from summit of
mountain.† I have ridden my road bike
beyond the gate to the top of the ski area.†
It seems the descent lane of this climb is in much worse shape than the climbing lane.† Thatís too bad, as this is really a nice descent.† You have to be very careful of some holes, and long deep cracks that run right down the lane.† These are easily bad enough to cause wheel damage or a crash.† You might not notice them on the left while climbing on the right hand side going up.† Plus, the top kilometer of this climb is badly frost heaved.† This part is not as steep, and you will notice this going up.† When you get to the bottom, head directly across Rt 100/103 to the cafť for replenishment.† Limited hydration options, but yummy treat options galore.
finish the ride.† Heading through
you get to blinking red light at junction of Rt 106, go straight across.† In a few more miles, youíll begin climbing,
a 400 footer that flanks Mt Ascutney.†
Again, if you are like me, youíll be in pure survival mode by this
point.† The descent down the other side
junction of Rt 106 and 131, if you chose to go left on Rt 106, youíll add
about 5 miles and back track on first part of ride by taking Rts 44 and 44A
back to car.† The reason you may want
to do this is great views of the west side of Mt Ascutney and a rocky knob
called Little Ascutney Mtn.† Scenery
here is rural
This kid on a suicide mission came flying down as we went up Okemo.† No protection of any sort.† No brakes.
Cars can fly up around corners in a heartbeat.† In high-res photo, there appears to be smoke coming off either
the tires or his shoes.
From near summit of
Okemo.† That is
and Mt Ascutney on right in distance.† Nearly whole ride in one scene.
Other Options (8800ft and 13,000ft)
skinny tires on gravel doesnít interest you.†
You can always skip the
Rt 155/Rt 100 Double Hump Option
gravel road extension still doesnít satiate your climbing desire and you want
more.† There is an option to add an
additional 1300 ft and 7 miles to the loop.†
Instead of heading all the way down Rt 103 back to Ludlow, after 3
miles bear right on Rt 155.† Follow
signs to stay on 155 south.† This road
has much less traffic on it than Rt 103.†
Rt 103 sucks, in fact, since it seems to carry a lot of 18-wheelers
and there isnít much shoulder on portions.†
From the profile below, Rt 155 begins at roughly the 47 mile
mark.† It climbs gradually at first, in
an undulating fashion.† But the last
few miles crank it up a few notches.†
There are some very nice views along the way too.† Youíll know when you get to the top when
you see the 7% grade sign.† This will
be at about 54 mile mark on the ride if you reset your computer before
climbing Ascutney and after you warmed up.†
Youíll lose 750 ft on this fast, open descent with smooth
pavement.† When you see sign for
junction of Rt 100, go left towards
intended to do this full 94 mile loop on 13-July-2007, but after setting a PR
on Ascutney beginning the ride, my legs were so cooked upon reaching
Compiled by Doug Jansen