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Six badass U.S. climbs, part 1

Major U.S. climbs you may not have heard of • Words/images by John Summerson

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While many of the United States’ major climbs can be identified by a large portion of road cyclists, a sizable number of challenging ascents remains quite unknown to most, even to true uphill enthusiasts. Even if you live nearby them, you may not be aware of the following six climbs—and none of them should be missed. All are rated at least Cat. 1, which means you will work hard to reach their summits. You will also have to work hard to travel to these ascents—but their isolation also guarantees a scenic and uncluttered uphill ride.

143 NORTH. The north side of Route 143 is a very solid climb and a contender for the most difficult one in southern Utah. It finishes at one of the highest U.S. summits outside of Colorado. After a shallow start from the small town of Parowan, the early miles are up a slowly increasing grade and on a fairly straight road within a scenic canyon. As the road begins to twist a bit more, you find yourself on a solid grade as the mountain walls grow higher. A steep section through some tight hairpin turns 9 miles in then breaks up the rhythm of the ascent as it abruptly carries you further up the ridgeline. On top of a big S-curve, the grade eases, but not by much, and at mile 11 you pass through the small town of Brian Head on continued steep grades. Leaving town, the road swings to the left and the grade increases one last time before easing just before the signed and scenic summit within an alpine setting above 10,000 feet.

Directions: From downtown Parowan, Utah, on Interstate 15, head south on East Center Street (Route 143) from Main Street for a short distance. The listed climb begins at its junction with City View Drive by continuing south on 143.

143 North, Utah
Category: Hors/One
Elevation gain: 4,339 ft (1,322 m)
Length: 13.9 mi (22.3 km)
Gradient: 5.9% avg./11% max.

From issue 74. Buy it here.