Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Prospect Hill, Both Ways

Seems I've heard a lot lately about Prospect Hill in Waltham.  I get CSU email updates all the time for dryland ski workouts there, whether rollerskiing up the paved road to the summit or hill bounding routines. There was also a bicycle race up it last weekend. Somehow, this gem of a small hill never made my radar display. Maybe it had something to do with being less than 500ft vert. Maybe it was its close proximity to Boston.

I'm attending a conference all week in Waltham, on radars. Interestingly, the Westin conference center is right on Prospect Hill. I didn't want to get skunked out of a workout two days in a row, so I threw a mountain bike an pair of rollerskis in the car. Instead of spending the last minutes of daylight in stop-and-go traffic on Rt 3, I decided to squeeze in a workout in Waltham before driving home.

The park is pretty small, maybe two miles long at most and a half mile wide. A paved rode runs end to end, gated at one end to prevent through traffic. Parking is at the base of a long abandoned ski area. I decided to ride first, so I could check out the road. I went right into threshold pace to warm up on my first climb. From gate to summit, about 330ft net gain can be realized in 0.82mi. Since I was on a fat tire bike, I went over the top on the Ridge Trail. Kinda chunky with the steps and all. I bombed down the paved road on the other side and turned around to go back up and over. I did this three more times, each time taking a different route back through the woods. My climb times were pretty slow, hovering just under five minutes. 24psi knobby tires and 8 lb Camelbak will do that. Didn't diminish the workout quality though. The last three climbs were solid VOmax efforts, which I haven't done in 10 days waiting for my chest to clear out.

Next up were my other set of wheels. Peak grades approached 15%, so this was going to be interesting now that my legs were partially tenderized. I used my Neiflheim rollerskis, which are pretty slow. My final push between the water tanks on the bike brought me close to the hurl threshold, but on rollerskis, I was at the hurl threshold almost immediately. This is where spring fitness comes from. Skiing is hard, even if it is on wheels on a paved surface. I did two rollerski climbs, in the 8-9min range.

First 0.3 miles is >11% grade.

How did I get back down? I hoofed it. Well, most of it anyway. I did not trust myself or speed reducers on such a steep grade. There were occasional cars coming up too, although none passed me in my direction during my two climbs. I passed a couple heading up during one of my climbs. Then I met them again on my hike back down. The guy was completely confounded, commenting that it would seem much easier to ski down instead of up. There was no way to explain that one.

Anyway, six seriously hard efforts up that hill made for a nice workout before the sun set. It might be the only workout I get in all week, now that I have some additional tasks to complete concurrently with the conference.


Anonymous said...


Since you are stuck in Waltham with a mountain bike you should also check out the trails off the Western Greenway:

Focus on Beaver Brook, Rock Meadow and the Town of Belmont area for the NEMBA maintained single (and double) track with the best flow. Belmont hill in particular is steeper than Prospect and long enough to get some meaningful repeats in. There is also a good hill in rock meadow with a water tower on top that is worthy of a few reps.

Rock meadow is just probably no more than 1 mile or so from Prospect Hill. Many miles of trails in this area not on the map I linked to above and fun to explore. Enjoy.


Paul said...

Did that race up Prospect Hill actually happen? I checked BikeReg early that week - and there were zero people registered. Otherwise I'd have tried it out.

Waltham is without a doubt the worst place on the planet to commute to - your idea of a workout instead is smart.

Hill Junkie said...

Yep, race happened. Results are here.

My job wouldn't survive more than a week if I had to drive Rt 3/128 every day. I don't know how people do it. The last day I drove down took 1:40. It is only 27 miles. Leaving earlier was not better.

Anonymous said...

Have you rode up Prospect mtn. in Lake George! I think this is a great small mtn. Get on the mtn. before the toll road opens at 10 a.m. and you will have the whole mtn. to yourself! I'm no sure on the specs. of the mtn. approx. 5mi. up , 1.5-2mi. @8-9%grade,1mi. flat, 1.5-2mi.@9% grade would be my guess? Like Greylock"s south side just smaller with the same ultra smooth pavement!