The long run south begins in earnest with stage 596. The US border may still be thirteen stages away, but they are thirteen predominantly southern stages: I say predominantly because although stage 596 is heading for Montana, the crossing is actually made into North Dakota, it’s eastern neighbour. As terrain goes, this is one of the most annoying stages of the journey to date: in preparing this preview, I counted no less than twenty six small peaks along the route, with a roughly equal number of descents: this is one of those stages where you can never quite find the right gear for more than a few metres. It’s a sufferer’s stage.
The rollout is lumpy and uphill for three miles to Hawarden: yes, there are small pockets of respite on the climb but the road just keeps on rising. The road continues in much the same fashion to Strongfield at nine miles: gently uphill overall but with multiple ups and downs along the way. After Strongfield, it’s Loreburn at fifteen miles: it sits on the south west quandrant of the junction with Highway 44 at the junction in what is otherwise the middle of nowhere.
Unlike a ‘normal’ stage, it’s actually difficult to pick out the highest elevation of the stage because there are a few candidate peaks, such is the undulating nature of the road. The safest option, therefore, is to say that the summit lies somewhere between thirteen and sixteen miles, although you can’t really make a case for it getting any easier after that even: the stage remains extremely lumpy all the way to the finish and you’ll be thankful when this stage is over.
Distance: 20 miles / 32 kilometres
Ascent: 534 feet / 163 metres
RGT Magic Road: gBylg6XE8Lps
Max elevation: 2005 ft
Min elevation: 1899 ft
Total climbing: 539 ft
Total descent: -451 ft
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