Hill Climb – Finger Lakes Cycling Club

Saturday, September 30, 2017 –the next Cascadilla Hill Climb returns for another season. Registration starts at 9:00 am; racing at 10:00 am. The fee this year will be $5 US per bicycle (take note, tandem and triple owners!).

What is the CHC?

This is an utterly, completely, chaotically informal event, held annually (on the last Saturday in September) just for the fun of it. The CHC has been an Ithaca fall tradition since 1971. Because the hill climb matches people of comparable ability against each other, it is truly something that can be enjoyed by every member of the cycling community. There will be a place for everyone to have a good time. If you come just to watch, bring your bike; you’ll want to jump on and try the hill yourself! A special welcome is extended to tandems, unicycles, clown bikes, — or whatever variation you want to come up with.

Cancellation policy: If the weather is really, really inclement, we’ll call it off. But chilly temps, a bit of rain, or a short burst of hail will not prevent the fulfillment of this annual rite. On the morning of the race, just come over and have a look; most likely it will proceed.

Registration: We start signing people up at 9:00 am, and begin racing at 10:00 am. There is a very modest entry fee ($8) entitling the participant to some food, drink, and lots of merriment. Gimme! Coffee provides support in the form a large container of fresh, hot coffee (very welcome in the chilly autumn morning). Ithaca Bakery/ Collegetown Bagels gives us a great deal on incomparable bagels and  cookies — ah! the cookies. They are, for many riders, the prize that makes it all worth while.

Pronunciation: There have always been purists and cognoscenti who enjoy hearing “Kass-kuh-DEE-yuh.” But, among native speakers of Finger Lakes English, “Kass-kuh-DILL-uh” is the popular winner. If you’re lost and asking for directions, that’s the version I’d use.

Competition: The race is run in two (or more) categories, A and B, based on riders’ own assessment of their fitness and ability. We also have enjoyed hosting a Unicycle Category with quite a turnout of contestants, as well as categories for Family Tandems, Work-Commuter Bikes, Bikes with Pink on Them, etc .  If you want to introduce a category, there will be a place for it. The Hill Climb is a double elimination/ match sprint format. Riders are assigned to pairs with a view to matching abilities. Pairs  then ride together to the bottom to start the race, sprinting toward the finish line back at the top.

The winner of each match advances to the next heat with the winner from an adjacent match. The loser of each match is paired with another loser; the winner of this match then  continues on toward the championship, the loser is finally, mercifully, out of the competition. Thus each rider has the opportunity to ride up this lovely hill at least twice, and most people many more. After the champion has been established, there is time for fun, including any grudge matches for which there are legs left and amusement races such as the classic “climbing while eating a bagel.” We may work up prizes for the A and B winners, but, in general, we lean toward moral over material rewards in this event.

The course: The Cascadilla Hill Climb course is both scenic and challenging, climbing several hundred feet in just under half a mile. The narrow city streets start out very steeply and resemble a European hill town as they twist and turn sharply alongside the gorge. (See the pictures from the archives.) Before the finish, the terrain opens up slightly and the road goes along the cemetery before easing off for about a 100 meter gradual sprint to the finish. Please remember that we are visitors in a very small neighborhood that does not fully share our abnormal obsession with bicycle racing. Let’s be courteous and considerate while riding and parking. The roads are not closed for this event, so watch out for the minimal traffic and be safe.

Location: From NY 13 in Ithaca, take Court Street (blue on the map) to the east (away from the lake and toward the hill with Cornell on it). Coming from the north or east, it will be a left turn (off the one-way road) at Fingerlakes Fabricating, shortly after the highway splits into two one-way streams. Coming on 13 from west/south, you’ll have to go through the new sprawl of “big-box” stores we have accumulated. After you pass the turn-off for NY 89 and 96 north, it will be the next right. Continue on Court St until it ends at a sharp bend at a park at the foot of a gorge. This is the cyclists’ starting point for the Hill Climb. You can take Cascadilla, the small street with two stone pillars just left of the park (red and wiggly on the map), up the hill, wind over toward the cemetery and up to Stewart Ave. That’s the finish line and the place where we assemble and register. You can also get to the registration point by going across town on Buffalo St. About half way up the steep hill, turn left on Stewart Ave. and proceed across the bridge to the finish line. For any further information contact Andrejs Ozolins at 607-592-0780 or e-mail

That’s a MapQuest map; thanks, MapQuest.