NC Piedmont Climbing: Pilot Mountain

A stunning landmark and the crown jewel of the Saratown Mountains, Pilot Mountain is the road bike climbing destination in North Carolina's Piedmont region

A stunning landmark and the crown jewel of the Saratown Mountains, Pilot Mountain is the road bike climbing destination in North Carolina’s Piedmont region

Having recently relocated from Washington, DC to back to Durham, NC, I’m eagerly reacquainting myself with the tranquil and enchanting rolling countryside of North Carolina’s Piedmont region.

With an upcoming training session calling for “sustained climbing,” I scoured topographic maps of the Piedmont looking for a road that would suffice. While the Piedmont region is brimming with scenic and historic countryside and pristine nature, sustained climbs are few and far between. The most challenging climb I could find, with the greatest vertical gain, is on Pilot Knob Park Road in Pilot Mountain State Park. The road climbs more than 1,000 vertical feet in a little over 2 miles, with a 9% average gradient.

The proximity of Winston-Salem to this strenuous route was cited by the chairman of the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic committee as a compelling reason for developing an elite cyclist training center there as opposed larger Piedmont hubs like Charlotte or Raleigh.

Below is a Google map and corresponding elevation profile of a two hour ride from King, NC to Pilot Mountain State Park and back with five tempo efforts up portions of the climb:

5x10 minutes at tempo pace, with about 700 ft of climbing on each interval

5×10 minutes at tempo pace, with about 700 ft of climbing on each interval

At the top of Pilot Knob Park Road, the lower lying slopes extend for dozens of miles into the horizon

At the top of Pilot Knob Park Road, the lower lying slopes extend for dozens of miles into the horizon

A view of the distinctive quartzite peak

A view of the distinctive quartzite peak

While Western North Carolina has sustained climbing in spades, as I’ve simultaneously suffered and enjoyed in the slopes around Boone, NC, I truly appreciate this Piedmont gem.

This entry was posted in Road Cycling, Training and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to NC Piedmont Climbing: Pilot Mountain

  1. Oshri says:

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos, Alex. We’re all behind you for your training.

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