Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hill Bombs 1 and 2

I'm starting a project: Hill Bombs in Vancouver. Classified as "fun to ride on a BMX and challenging on the track bike". Changes in elevation and how to approach them. Possible explanations of timing or alternate routes. 

Feel free to email me your gmapped hillbombs and I'll throw them up in the set as long as they are worth riding. For round one of Hill Bombs I give you two that happen on my usual commute routes, and are therefore "Rocky and Stairmaster Approved". 

Through the very heart of FraBro. I start this one at 10th Ave on Fraser, as I give the commuters on the worst section of the bike route a glance. There's a concrete bus stop immediately east of Fraser on Broadway, and probably the most sketchy section due to the right turn. I often find myself shadowing cars turning right, or sometimes magically timing the light and watching for oncoming left turners. In any case, going pretty slow is smart, and an easier start to the bomb than trying to accelerate eastward across on Broadway.

Down the hill for four blocks, the safest line usually just right of the curb lane's left edge (concrete patches are abundant any further right). Watch for doors. 3p-6p this section is a bus/bike lane, with occasional rage commuters. If going fast enough, you can take the center lane, freewheel or fixed. And it always makes me thing of Zoobomb's Hellway going for the left lane late at night.

Two pedestrian-controlled intersections can slow you down but often are runnable. At the bottom of the bomb, Glen is the only vehicle-controlled intersection. It's right outside the VCC campus, and is a route from Great Northern Way to Broadway. This bomb has the option of finishing up with a grassbomb across the park into China Creek Skatepark - Vancouver's oldest bowl - which was fortunately spared in the park's current child-friendly refreshing.

2. Kingsway north from 10th (alternate Main from 10th).

When timed right, MainBomb is an extended high speed bomb - one of my favourites on BMX. It ends at sea level, so you know you're getting good value for your bomb. When starting this one, think of the 2006 Budgies skid comp. Once again we begin at 10th Ave, timing the light at Broadway. The merge on to Main is doable even on a red; keep right, next to the curb. Timing the rest of the bomb is part-magic, part-luck. 

After 6th Ave the grade increases noticeably. Again, left edge of curb lane is the default, though I find myself much more often downhill of 6th in the center lane going as fast as the cars. The possibility of door prize is high, as is the likelihood of cars coming off the side streets. Don't do this bomb when you're not at the top of your game - take Scotia instead; the 2nd Ave intersection at the bottom claims victims on a regular basis.

The bike route light at 5th also has cars, and can slow things down. But it's not too far down the hill to stop beforehand and time the 2nd Ave light if you do get caught up. Consider letting the articulated #3 bus pass and then go for a center lane bus-hop when it stops on the other side! Stopping for a burrito on the way down is also considered good form.

That's it for Hill Bombs round one. If you like it, leave a comment. If you have suggested content, shoot. While we may not have a train-serviced bomb, there are little nuggets of rad all over our city.


gabrielamadeus said...

This is near Portland, so shoot me. Gnarliest hill ever. The grade is actually 17% in one spot and it is curvy as satan's whip.

nikcee said...

fraser from 37th to kingsway... its really two bombs with a small rise. but both are fun... the second is def high speed if you want it to be...

best lane is LHS of the right lane...

also 37th to kingsway on knight is amazing... no side streets, smooth surface and a few small twists. downside of the the one time i rode it was truck/heavy vehicle traffic that squeezes you.

Hustle Jr. said...

Not as big or long but I like going down burrard from 7th till the bridge cuase it flattens out. If you start from 7th just as the pedestrian light is about half way and you send it you can have an un-interrupted bomb that flattens out until the beginning of the bridge. Center lane is usually the safest as people are sometimes turning onto 4th and turning out of the gas station.

Rob said...

Post Class commute from UBC down 4th with a bike lane and traffic to make you hold a line in the curve. Can always run the light at the bottom as long as you hold a line near the curb when the bike lane ends.