We live in a hilly part of the world.
And since we reside along a river that is at sea level, we are at the bottom of those hills. All of them.
That means every ride is going to involve some climbing.
Sure, there’s a couple of gradual inclines along marked bike routes that will carry you gingerly beyond the city’s borders with just a little effort. But most of the roads that follow the contours of the city’s geography shoot upwards quickly and sharply.
None more so than the Muur van Third Avenue.
While less than half the length of the famous Muur van Geraardsbergen in Belgium, which is often the decisive climb in renowned races like the Tour of Flanders and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the Muur van Third Avenue shares a similar profile.
It’s average gradient over 300 metres is 13 per cent, but its early slope pitches as much as 19.2 per cent.
The 1,000 metre Muur in Belgium averages 9.3 per cent with a maximum pitch of 19.8 per cent.
The Muur van Third Avenue has mocked me, tantalized me for years. It confronts me every day, as it’s right along the route to Little Ring’s daycare.
From afar, it doesn’t look so bad.
But stand at its base and look up, you might crick your neck. The ascent begins immediately, mercilessly. The middle 200 metres never pitch at less than 10 per cent, rarely level to less than 15 per cent. Even cars in first gear strain to climb it.
The Muur van Third Avenue is so intimidating, only 33 attempts to climb it are recorded on Strava, dating back to 2010.
Today, I became number 34.
I don’t know what possessed me to give it a go. The weather this week has been outstanding, the sun warming, invigorating. With my earliest 100 km ride already in my back pocket on Tuesday, maybe I just needed another achievement. And this one was handy.
My speed up the Muur won’t challenge Guy WR, our FR Fuggitivi patron and reigning King of the Muur, but my thighs didn’t explode, my lungs didn’t burst, my Garmin didn’t even auto pause.
And it was a good warmup for a solid morning of climbing, up Burnaby Mountain, up again to Discovery Park, then across and up out of the Central Valley. Before the long gentle coast downhill. To home.