In the West, climbs were in the styles of passes. You went up up up, saw an elevation sign, then went back down down down. Having a racing background, we were usually unfazed by "small" passes-- those that top out at 5 or 7,000 feet. But boy, in a small town-- people were sure impressed, if not confuddled (I made that word up).
"You're going to go up THAT on a PEDAL BIKE?!!"
"I wouldn't be able to ride A MILE up that thing!"
In one little town, Virginia City, MT, is where we heard the worst of it. The whole town dropped their jaws at the idea of even THINKING of riding a bicycle up the hill just out of town. We started to become a little wary. This is the most we've heard about a hill. How bad could it be?
Answer: we got to the top and wondered if there was more. I had buckled in for a pain fest and it never came. We were up in 20 minutes. The MOST talked up hill of the entire trip was the smallest "pass" we had gone over.
BUT! Oh, ho! When we were in Frisco, CO, where bicycles permeated every street, people told us not to worry.
"Oh, Hoosier Pass? Yeah, don't worry about it. It's not that bad."
"Hoosier Pass? I ride up it after work. It's not a big deal."
Um, excuse me folks-- this is the HIGHEST POINT ON OUR ROUTE and you're trying to tell us that it's NOT A BIG DEAL?!!
And actually, it wasn't so bad! It was only the last 2 miles that got nasty with switchbacks. I had to attack them at race pace to get up. And don't forget that my bike and gear weighs at least 80 pounds instead of under 20 like my race bike. And each time I gulped down water, I had to gulp down some air immediately afterward due to the high elevation. And I did stop once to take a break, but I did ride the whole thing. Really, not bad. ;)