It’s true, we did ride near a jail and yes, there was a break. Unfortunately the break occurred between myself and the rest of the 5-man group for the last official Mountain Goat Climb.
Living in the Last Great Wilderness of the Northeast and in an area called the Adirondack Mountains, you’d think we could come up with some killer hill climbs. Oh how we wish that were true. We’ve got plenty of short and even sharp climbs, but long and sustained grinds are hard to find. Thanks to Adam (AKA the Wrench) for herding the goats and introducing us all to some fun riding in Clinton County. Our final climb might be the jewel of the area – Dannemora Mt. via the Nashville-Hugh Hearn Rd.
Jailbreak – Nashville/Hugh Hearn Rd – Dannemora Mt
Weather in the Adirondacks can be quite unpredictable, we always plan for the worst. Funny though how things always work out. Conditions were simply perfect for riding. Starting again at Saranac Central School we formed what can easily be called the Coolest Peleton of the Adirondacks. The Schoolmaster and The Greyhound (made a guest appearance during Burnt Hill) rode in and we were shortly join by “Captain” Picard. Did I mention? We OWN the road.
Crossing the Saranac River, we did a quick warm-up by spinning down Bowen Rd to Hardscrabble Rd and dropping into Moffitsville. Snake! Ganong Rd let us do a final stretch while admiring the Saranac Independence Cemetery. (Hey JT, not seeing a whole lot of progress on that house there, your having more fun than me!) Sometime I’d like to stop in here and see the first monument ever erected in Clinton County – The Civil War Soldier Monument. Did you know 416 men from Saranac enlisted to fight in the War Between the States? That was the highest rate of enlistment for any town in the Union. Wow. This was erected in 1888 by the men who returned to honor their brothers and friend who died. Along with their names is a short poem:
Bivouac of the Dead
On fame’s eternal camping ground their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards with solemn roon the bivouac of the dead.
As we enjoy our days of leisure here in the paradise of the Adirondacks, I hope we can take a moment to appreciate those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for what they believed to be a just cause. Enough of that.
This climb mainly ascends the flank of Johnson Mt up to Route 374. We started our climb in Saranac by heading up Chazy Lake Rd. At the top of this first grind, we made a right turn to reach the beginning of the Nashville Rd. Eventually this becomes Hugh Hearn Rd. Climbing for 3.7 miles, we were enthralled by the views, stone walls and monuments, and stiff gradients. Had to wake up Granny for some of the steeper sections and also to prevent later explosion. A quick recovery just before the junction with Route 374 and the final pitch.
Caution is recommended when making this turn as it meets Rt 374 right at a bend and cars ascending and descending have limited sight distance. Looking down the hill, one can see the village of Dannemora and the prison walls. Interesting to note that this was at one time the most brutal prisons in America. This last section is just shy of 1.5 miles and at a steady 7% grade. The wide shoulder and smooth road just sucked us up to the top where we had a quick visit and drink at the spring. I balked at attempting max speed as we had to make the turn at Hugh Hearn midway down the hill. I also experienced a scary shimmy once on this descent so I think that memory made me a bit cautious. A handful of brakes and we were blasting down with the stone shrines blurring by. We were passed by some motorcycles, The Wrench chased and passed them, “Capt” Picard and I were content to follow. The other guys had already departed on another route. What a sweet ride finishing right at last light. I’m ready to do this one again soon!