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TRIP REPORT: Biking 'round the mountain

March 26, 2012 - Morgan Ryan
Went for a 50-mile bike ride around Whiteface Mountain on Saturday with my friend Edward. It was a little chilly and windy, but we bundled up and just went for it.

Started in Saranac Lake and headed east on state Route 3, along the Saranac River. We got our first glimpse of Whiteface from a marshy area between Saranac Lake and Bloomingdale.

After riding on Route 3 for about 8 miles we took a right onto River Road. This road is relatively flat and very pleasant to ride on, closely following the shoreline of the Saranac River toward Franklin Falls.

There was very little traffic on River Road. The car in this picture was one of the maybe two we saw the whole time.

Not long after we crossed the bridge at Franklin Falls, the route began its long climb toward Whiteface Mountain. There aren’t too many houses between Franklin Falls and Wilmington on County Highway 18A, but the ones that are there are quite nice. This looks like some kind of farming operation.

The climb to the junction with the Whiteface Memorial Highway was pretty tough, chugging up 900 feet over 5 miles. This picture was taken not far from the top of the climb. We were pretty worn out at this point after the steep ascent.

Naturally, what goes up must come down so we covered the next 3 miles down into Wilmington in no time at all. With a little bit of a headwind, my top speed was 39.8 mph and stayed in the 35-plus range most of the way down. Edward was in the low-40s on his fancy road bike. Both of us were flying and loving every second of it.

Wilmington was roughly the halfway point of the ride, so we celebrated with a burger and a beer at Steinhoff’s. We deserved it after that big climb and fast 1,200-foot downhill.

The food was served in large portions and the people were friendly at Steinhoff's. We didn’t want to have too good a time, though, so we climbed down off the bar stools and got back on our bikes for the second half of the ride.

Not far from Wilmington, we pulled over to take a look at the AuSable River near the Flume. The skiing conditions on Whiteface Mountain looked pretty bleak from this spot. The mountain closed for the season the next day.

We pedaled about 13 miles of gradual uphill between Wilmington and Lake Placid, before reaching the North Elba Show Grounds for yet another look at Whiteface.

At about the 40-mile mark, we hit what may have been the steepest uphill of the whole trip on Old Military Road in Lake Placid. (I didn’t have the energy to fish out my camera, but trust me it was steep).

We were happy to finish with a long downhill back into Saranac Lake.

Here is a Google map and elevation chart of the ride.

Ed later calculated that we had racked up a grand total of 3,320 feet of elevation gain over the 50 miles.


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Ed cranking it out