First of all, there has been a lot of buzz about these rides…. mostly, “Can I do this?”, “Is my bike right?”, etc.  Just show up and try. I hope everyone shows up who has even considered this.  You will not be disappointed.  You will see average grades of >10% on some of these hills, and max grades to 22%, again and again! You can do one hill, or many, or all, fast or slow, it does not matter.

For the most complete, and up to date info on the Dante’s Rides, please visit Dr. Dan Wnorowski’s website.  There you will find up to date elevation data, route updates and most recently, GPX data.

“Dante’s”, named after the “Dante’s Inferno” for the circles (see also- hills) of hell, began as the brainchild of Tom Baesl, many years ago, and has grown piecemeal with additions resulting from brainstorms from the likes of Gordon Stevens, Jon Loftus, Mike Zipprich, and others.  Four of us have done the whole thing in one day: including John Cico, Chris Murphy, and Dan McCarthy, and these were long epic rides (with lots of Gatorade, bananas, Gu, rainstorms, and punctures), that trained us well for other rides like the Highlander, Triple Bypass and Death Ride, and this year for the “Bumps Hillclimb series”, and for Dan McCarthy, La Ruta de los Conquistadores, in Costa Rica (he has done this event 12 times!).   These are all big rides, but honestly, I think the Dante’s route is as challenging, if not more so, than the others (but maybe not La Ruta: “the toughest mountain bike race in the world”).

This course has been assembled and grown over time, and it is a demanding giant now.  But we are only doing half on each day, so it is manageable. Again, about 70 miles each day, and >6000′ East (Sat) 4.5 hours, and 7000′ West (Sun) 5.0 hours.

I am sure some of us will probably do the whole thing again in one day later in the year when there is time for proper recovery and nothing else going on, maybe in October, if you are interested.

Feel free to drop in or off at any time on each day.  An easy bail-out point on Saturday if you drive to Alliance Bank is to continue down Peck Hill Road instead of the left on Palmer, continuing right on South Eagle Village, back to 173, left on 173 and left on Enders, back to Alliance Bank, and you still have done a very respectable ride of some 30 miles of three awesome hills: Gulf, 13-Carry’s-Fenner, and Stanley!!

Re: gearing: I know of some people, Kevin Hanlon and Chris Anklin come to mind, who did the harder West side last summer with “normal gears”: 39×25 (ratio 1.56). They suffered on the steeps, but they did it. Dodge, Frank Long, Case Hill, Ortloff, Newell, and Hitchings are bears with such gears (all with 21%+ sections), but they did it.  If you want to make it easier, and if you do not have a triple (which makes it much more manageable), consider a compact (34×25 1.36), or a bigger cog in rear cassette, if possible (39×27 1.44, or 39×28 1.39).

Pros on Thursday’s Pau to Col du Tourmalet Stage 17 used 53-39 front with 12-25 rear. However, these three climbs were, at their worst sections, 10% climbs, averaging around 12 miles at 7.5% (4000+’) for Tourmalet (HC), or 6 miles at 7.6%  (2,000+’) for Col de Marie-Blanque (C1), and 8 miles at 7.8% (3,000+’) for Col du Soulor (C1). These are like route 20 re: slope but much longer, or Whiteface Mountain Toll Road (8 miles at 7.5%, 3,000′), x3 repeats.

Personally, I will not be riding the East side fast Saturday, and plan to sweep the back of the peleton by doing repeats if necessary, at least for Saturday’s ride. So don’t sweat the speed, you will not be abandoned. If some people want to go fast off the front and know the route, feel free to do so as well.

Daniel C. Wnorowski