Winter Ride Report: South Lookout Towers

By: Brian Ecker

As mentioned in a recent post, it’s the off season and time to transition into activities other than pilling miles on the road bike.  This past weekend blew in dry and very cold for the Bellingham area.  Morning temperatures were in the mid 20s but the skies were clear and crystal blue.  I took this opportunity to lead a cross bike ride with the hope of getting in some good climbing.  The route/destination: Galbreath and South Lookout Mountain.

The Profile for the Day

A hearty group joined in at the 9am Adagio Coffee shop start time.  We rolled out for a nice spin along the bay and up to Lake Padden. Today’s route would include the combo of climbing up to the Galbreath Towers then after a long decent tackling the very tough climb up the back side of South Lookout Mountain. The Lookout Mountain climb is tough, maybe the toughest around.  It is 5.5 mi with a total elevation gain of about 2,100 ft.  The gravel road surface is good but there are some sustained steep pitches that are just a killer.  I had the opportunity to do this climb a few times last summer and I can firmly attest that a 30F change in temp, 5-7 lbs of body weight, and a winter fitness level makes this climb even that much harder!  To top it off, add another 3-5 inches of snow for the last 2K of the climb and you have one heck of a workout.

Rusty Dodge led the efforts up the climb with his 34X27 gearing. (I think I have a 29X32!) An amazing display of sheer power and incredible finesse. About ½ way up the climb we began to encounter a fair amount of snow on the road.  The cold dry air had turned the snow into an amazing light powder but as we climbed higher the depth deepened. The last 2K of the climb had us pedaling hard through 3-5 inches.  It was a slow struggle which both Rusty and I made it through without even a single dab that is, until the last 100m pitch where we both couldn’t quite do it and were required to dismount.  Shortly thereafter, Mr. Eternal Youth, Jeff Cummings came cranking up the hill muttering something about “if I had just one more gear…”

The hike and bike off the front side was pretty slick but we all made it down and back to town without incident.  Ride stats of 3hr 20 mi and 4,800 Ft of climbing aren’t out of this world impressive but after slogging through snow filled up hill sections I can confidently say that it was a hard day at the office!

Full Garmin file at:

The View from the Top


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