Curiosity will always get the best of me, even if it’s a stupid idea.  When Scranton Tomorrow announced they were having a bike race and separately a hill climb in downtown Scranton, my “what’s-this-about” meter went off the charts. First, a criterion in downtown with riders screaming down city streets? Sign me up! Plus, Day 2 has a hill climb on Olive Street over a section of cobblestones. Sounds fantastic. I love the idea! I really wanted to know what the hill climb was all about. Full disclosure. I’m a closet Tour de France junkie, especially when those cats get deep in the mountains. Those riders are so remarkably fit and I’m stunned by the endurance it takes to climb a mountain on a bike, let alone to do it quickly. The power and lung capacity are mind-boggling.

With all that in mind, staff writer Jim Lockwood and I hatched a plan to go tackle Olive Street and see what this was all about. Armed with an average road bike, a 48-year-old dad body and a healthy fear of having a stroke halfway up the hill, we headed into the Hill Section to give it a rip.

Some quick impressions.

  1. I’m not nearly in as good a shape as I would like to think.
  2. That hill is pretty steep. Pros are going to tackle it in about 30 seconds, according to a story we published when the race was announced. For the record, it took me 46 seconds – a lifetime in comparison to those guys. Also, I did it once. The racers are not so lucky; they will do it multiple times!
  3. The guys at the end of the video wanted to know if I needed an ambulance. “No! … Wait, maybe.”
  4. Cobblestones are a pain in the arse to ride on. In addition to powering up the hill, you had better pick a smooth line or you’re toast.
  5. My first attempt was a total fail. Wrong gear, wrong line, wrong everything.
  6. Good cyclists are likely going to fly up this hill.
  7. I’m NOT a good cyclist but this was a great time.

Here’s video going up the hill, from Prescott Avenue to Taylor.

I would encourage everyone to check out the inaugural Electric City Classic on Aug. 24 and 25. The first day is the downtown race and the second the hill climb. There is going to be some terrific riders in what I expect to be a really unique downtown event. So please, head to the city, support the local businesses and sponsors and have a great time. I’ll be there for sure, watching how it’s done.