Featured Hill: Interstate Park

A wise man once told me, "If it ain't the park, it ain't dick". Pardon my French, but this wise Cyclova XC Member was right! Simply put, there are few workouts you can do that will benefit your fitness more than suffering repeatedly on a big climb. The "park" that Tommy refers to is Interstate Park, just outside of St. Croix Falls, WI.

Interstate park is on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River Valley, gorgeous but also with much elevation for the Midwest! Interstate park has a beautiful road going from top to bottom which has some great undulation, curves, switchbacking, good pavement, low speed auto traffic, and even an "extra credit" section of rough pavement at the top. In short, this amazing park road winds it's way up the valley, cumulatively climbing just over 500 feet in 3.75 miles.

The famous "Krenny's Corner" seperates the men from the boys!

Area cyclists have been riding the park for decades now, myself included. I recall when I was racing at my best, I would do a weekly ride in the park doing between 5 and 15 repeats. Now there are records that have been kept for this climb, which were hotly contested for a while. Tommy Krenz held the record for many years and is likely the most consistent user of this great park road.

Several years ago, Tommy and I were spending a ton of time on a weekly basis riding up and down this hill - literally hundreds of times over the course of the summer. The summer started out with the course record being something like 8:35 or so - a very respectable time. We whittled down this time such that both of us were consistently able to ride a sub 8:30, which is absolutely flying at top form. One evening, an unusual weather system moved in and the wind shifted to a stiff north west breeze - which will push you up the critical last 1.5 mile section of relatively high speed false flat. Tommy struck first riding an 8:15, which was a new course record - amazing! We went for it again with my riding the lower section of the climb and corners particularly hard, which gapped Tommy. I held a slim lead over Tommy to the top and crossed the line at 8:10, breaking the course record which Tommy had just set. To my knowledge, this record still stands today, likely 10 years later.

Now, any time on this course under 9 minutes is flying. I'm relatively fit this year and couldn't muster anything faster than a 10:15 this past weekend - I have a long way to go to reach the top race fitness I used to possess.

Following you'll find a pictorial tour of the climb up "the park", from bottom to top, showing you what the start and finish look like as well as the key areas of the climb. Enjoy!

The sign on the left side of the road in the above picture is where you start your watch and is the beginning of the climb. Many a rider and rolled by this sign with dreams of conquering "the park", but has been crushed by the top.


After going up a steep grade off the start, you are treated to a fun descent with some sharp curves at the bottom. Be careful, there are pedestrian crossings just around this corner!


After passing a breathtaking view of the river (which you won't notice if you're in the pain box), you'll hit this section, the first of the really steep pitches on this climb.


This is the stuff that dreams are made of, officially known as "Krenny's Corner". The closest thing to a switchback in the region, this is where you know if you have it in your legs or not!


Once through Krenny's Corner, the grade relaxes a bit, but the next steep section is within sight. Catch your breath!


After the steep stuff is done you'll pass by the park headquarters then see this road (take the right). You now have just under 1 mile to go on a gradual to medium grade which will further punish your legs.



The upper slopes of the climb are deceivingly difficult and have been called "Wisconsin Style Pave". The hill just goes on and on and the rough pavement can rattle you.


Congratulations, this is the top! There is an old white survey line painted on the road about 100 yards before the gate visible in the distance. This pavement has been eroded by the sweat of many a cyclist!



2 comments:

  1. That brings back many great memories! I remember at times we used to do (or try to do anyway for me maybe) 10 repeats under 10 minutes each. I think the record still stands for the most number of repeats in one day is 20, which Tom, myself, and Colaizy I believe did. Terry did like 18 or 19. I remember I tried to make the last one snappy and blew up big time on the last half and suffered all the way home. That was the Summer you were in Austrailia. The next couple weeks after that I totally sucked racing and got dropped from the pack even I believe, and thought that wrecked my season. Then a couple weeks after that I had a few of my best races ever making the breaks, etc.

    Great article Frank!

    Mike L

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  2. Hey Mike,

    Thanks for the comment and your fun commentary. It's funny how a huge workout like that can effect fitness so inversely in the immediate term vs a few weeks later. I'm going to be getting up some articles on training strategies in the future on this topic.

    You were definitely on fire that summer! Also get out there on this hill and ride, it's like 1 mile from your house! :)

    Want to do a ride in your area this weekend?

    -Frank

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