Wachusett Mountain and the Climb to the Clouds

My most memorable visit to Wachusett Mountain was on a bike. The Charles River Wheelmen run The Climb to the Clouds each summer. The ride is sixty miles, starting at Nashoba Regional High School, climbing up Mt. Wachusett and back to Bolton.

The highlight of the ride is the steady 9% grade from the ski lodge to the Visitors Center at the State Park. It’s a lung-busting, thigh-burning, unrelenting climb. Finally, at the Visitors Center, you get a brief rest of flat roads. Then its a charge to the summit. That stretch to the summit is more undulating, but still up and up and up.

In the picture at the summit of Mt. Wachusetts, that’s Action Dave on the left, me on the right, Pete and the back and another Kosmic Karma team rider in the front as part of the 2004 ride.

The view at the top is tremendous. At least once my vision came back after the dismounting from my bike and finally being able to breathe.

After the climb, the ride down is a bit sketchy, flying over switchbacks and tight turns. It really opens up after you get past the visitor center and ride wide, straight roads back down to the flats. I hit 42 MPH according to a traffic radar sign sitting on the side of the road.

Mt. Wachusett State Park is yet another of the 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts I have visited.

Balance Bar 24 Hour Adventure Race Boston

Dave, Doug and Jeff decided paddling around Boston Harbor, biking through Wompatuck State Park, climbing in the Quincy Quarries and hiking the Blue Hills Reservation would be a good way to spend a day.

We had a bunch start in kayaks behind the Federal Courthouse in Boston Harbor

From there we paddled across Boston Harbor to Nantasket. We grabbed some pizza and switched into biking gear. Then it was 20 miles of biking down to and through Wompatuck State Park.

Then it was back in the kayaks, paddling across Boston Harbor to Wollaston Beach, up Black’s Creek to a transition point.

Then we were on foot running/walking to the Quincy Quarries. There we had a rappel down the K Face in the Quarry. Next was a zip line from the Q Face to the M Face. At this point the sun was setting and we had 30 miles of hiking through the Blue Hills Reservation. Just to keep us awake, it started raining. We saw a few teams huddle up under emergency blankets.

Back to Wollaston Beach and the kayak. We paddled to Thompson Islans, paused for a cruise ship to cross our route and paddled back to the finish line at the Federal Court House on Fan Pier.

A short 25 hours.

Here is a story about another team we met during the race:

Here is an interactive map of the race route (Or, at least as much as I can remember of the route. You pan, zoom and click on the markings for more information.):

View Balance Bar 24 Boston Adventure Race Route in a larger map

Hi-Tec Adventure Race – Hartford 2001

Action Dave and Jamie Liu ran, biked and paddled this race with me. This race is a favorite since it happens at night. Getting lost in the woods in the dark is more fun than being lost in the daytime.

We came in at 4:30:06 in 50th place (out of 138 teams) in the coed division. The last team came in at 7:24:17 and first place came in at 3:29:20. See the full results for the Hi-Tec Adventure Racing Series #6 Hartford, CT, September 8, 2001.

A blazing start:

Emerging from the lake after a kayaking leg:

Dave, Jamie and Doug trying to figure out where we are and what we are supposed to be doing.

Setting the pole for Jamie to climb.

Jamie climbing.

Jamie tying.

Doug and Dave in the dark. Where’s Jamie?

The wall is the last obstacle before the finish line:

Crossing the finish line:


We spent our third day in Colorado at Keystone, after spending time at Breckenridge and Vail.

Keystone was the lesser of the three resorts. It consists of a several mountains in a row. The entrance is at the first mountain. Then you need to go up and down over the other mountains to get to the good stuff at the back of the resort.

The conditions were not very good that day because of a strong wind. It did leave some great conditions in the trees.

Pete, Dave, Steve, me and Jeff:

Jeff after a fall in the trees:

Jeff, me, Dave, Pete and Steve at the top of the Outback Bowl at Keystone:


After spending our first day in Colorado at Breckenridge, we decided to spend our second day at Vail. It was just a short drive down I-70.

At first, we were a little disappointed. Sure it was big. But it was mostly just wider trails than I was used to back east.

Then we followed the signs to the bowls.

That changed everything. Thousands of acres of wide open terrain.

Me, Dave and Jeff at the top of China Bowl: