Elecric bike on the Johnny Horn Trail, St John USVI

 

Here is a sort of ordered list of the hardest bike climbs I've done the first few days ebiking on St John.

Johnny Horn Trail, Bordeaux Mountain Road, East End Road, John Head Road, Trunk Bay Corkscrew, North Shore Road, Centerline Road - Coral Bay.

 

Johnny Horn Trail

Rule number 1: if jeeps are not allowed, bicycles aren’t either. I biked up the road from coral bay so I could compare ebiking with 4wd jeeping.  I have stayed at the Coral Bay Eco Retreat a couple times after Maho Bay Campground closed and it is up Johnny Horn on the third side road.  The road is not hard till just before the third sideroad except for being dirt with some rocks and ruts.  There is a short stretch just before that turn which is steeper, and which has a rock ridge in the middle with fairly large loose rocks scattered about.  The steepness is not severe for a good ebike, but I hopped off the bike to avoid hitting a cantelope size rock when i missed the narrow line I had eyeballed.  The photo for this article is just after the 3rd side road where the road really does get steep. See the warning sign, which i suspect is there because some people who shouldn’t try to drive and either need a tow or tear up the road, making life unpleasant for the few homes further up the hill.  If you are a serious mountain biker you can go further but be mindful of the national park trail which is restricted.

 

Bordeaux Mountain Road

I think this one must have been cut in the 1950s when straight lines were in vogue and physicists were busy working on atomic bombs.  The road goes up from Coral Bay and I went up to find the Stone Garden Cottage which is up about a third of a mile, where I'd like to stay for a romantic visit sometime. The climb up is not too difficult if you get in a low gear and just maintain a steady straight line around 6 mph on the right ebike.  If you stop it might be hard to start again: fall back to a driveway turnout to get started again.  The road here is recently paved cement so no trouble with that. Going down, this would be an awesome sledding hill for the young and foolish.  If the path through to the frozen bay was cleared you could slide all the wa yto Tortolla.  Check your brakes and keep your speed well under 10mph and you should be fine.  Keep yours eyes just in front of you if you get vertigo, or enjoy the view if you don't..

I have not done the other parts of Bordeaux Mountain Road yet, but note that the trail from Lamesur Bay by the same name is off limits to biking.

 

Electric biking to the Stone Garden Cottage in Coral Bay, St John USVI

East End Road
The East End Road surprised me with its steep climbs.  I had driven out to the East End several times but didn’t remember spinning the tires there with a jeep so assumed it was a beginner's ride.  The lesson learned was to get in the lowest gear I’d need before hitting the steepest sections.  Not remembering each hill’s nature I underestimated a couple, resulting in one time I had to stop when I tried a gear change too late.  Once stopped, I couldn’t get going again.  If you try once and can’t start, it is probably best to go back down and get a rolling start in the right gear.  The East End has a day's worth of things to do, with Haulover Bay to the left for a great snorkel, Hurricane Hole a national park gem, and Vie's Snack Shack opposite Pelican Rock for lunch and another snorkel.  You can find a feaw access points to bays on the right.  Put it in low gear if you're not sure and  keep a steady pace. Traffic is usually light but be aware since cars might not see you on some  curves.
 
John Head Road

This road goes up from the north shore to centerline road.  It should appeal to moumtain bikers and the preferred direction is up on an ebike.  It starts near Peter Bay as a dirt road, and comes out on centerline about a half mile closer to Cruz Bay than the Cinnamon Bay Trail endpoint.  The road zigs and zags with several concrete drainage sections.  The road has a few bumps and watch out for the concrete dips.  It is a fairly narrow two way road and I passed three cars as I went up; that is probably three more than you are likely to see but just be aware you may need to hug the left or pace entering a zig or zag as cars won't know you're there.  There is a very nice windmill ruin at the top.  The slope is seldom steep enough to cause concern on an ebike, but being a dirt trail-road you’ll need to stay focused and adapt your line so it can seem steeper than a similar paved road.

 

Trunk Bay Corkscrew
This winding set of steep turns is famous for stopping tourist drivers in their tracks especially when it rains. I came in on the ferry in a downpour as the last light faded away and waited half an hour waited for a lull in the rain. The rain was just a drizzle by the time I got to the corkscrew. Other than having some trouble figuring out the gears and needing to pedal hard, I had no trouble navigating the climb, though was glad not to have traffic while I did it.  I went back to the corkscrew another slightly damp day with video camera and got some prime clips of cars ænd taxis slipping their way through the tightest steepest turn, while my ebike had no trouble at all.  Get in a low gear and remember the steepest sections are in the turns.  As you approach the turns get close to center line if traffic allows and cut into the turn maintaining a steady pace.  Going down just keep your speed under 10mph and keep the brakes steady but not locked up.  You should be able to navigate this better than many cars with the right ebike and tires, wet or dry.  Just pace yourself to minimize encounters with cars, and if you sense trouble, pull to the side before you get into a turn. 
 
North Shore Road

This long steep hill is tour gateway from the North Shore to Coral Bay and the east and south shore attractions, so if you are an intermediate or advanced cyclist with an appropriate ebike you'll want to know how to navigate it.  The road is only really steep in the hairpin turns at the bottom of the hilk, and those are short sections.  Watch the three way intersection at the bottom for traffic and same for the hairpins.  Get in low gear to climb and you should be fine, I just use medium power up this hill nd add a littke throttle if I get tired or need a boost or more speed to adapt to traffic.  Use medium power to conserve your battery.  For me, the effort to bike up this hill is a lot less thn walking up it.  And you get a smoothie at the top either way!  Going down be careful to control your speed; the hill is not nearly as steep as Bordeaux Mt Road but is long and if you let your speed get above the island-side 20 mph speed limit you might not be able to control it at the turns.  Slow down under 10mph for the turns at the bottom or you will likeky zip across traffic's path into the rock wall.  

 
Centerline Road to Coral Bay

This hill seems steep because of the turns and cliffside views, but is actually a fairly easy cycle that most bikes should handle easily.  I stick with medium power and modest steady pedaling and maintain a pace around 10 to 15 mph.  There are a couple short sections a little steeper but most of the commotion is in the turns and minding cars and trucks.  I make a point of checking for overtaking cars as i approach overlooks, and maintain pace speeding up or slowing down so cars pass in wider, straighter parts of the road.  Remember to keep left and maintain a predictable line.  Going down this hill is the sweetest doẃnhill on the island, with breathaking views.  You will need to brake to stay at the speed limit and until you know the turns burn off more speed ahead of the turns, as a couple of them are hard to negotiate going too fast and you want to see oncoming traffic soon enough to be able to avoid it if they have crossed thé centerline.

 

Pickles in Paradise is at the bottom of the hill with excellent deli items and takeout and they have a railing to latch your bike to plus tables where you cæn keep an eye on your bike. Oasis has the island's only drivethrough, which I haven't yet tried but where I'm sure they'd get a kick out of a bike driving through.  I talked with Crabby's about being the island's first ebike rental place, they have some understandable concerns to work out but Coral Bay is a natural hub for ebiking with a slower pace and more ecotourist villa rental business than Cruz Bay. Tried to talk to Love City about stocking a box of bike parts and loaner tools, because they have 'all that you need'.  Not this year but maybe next year. 

 

I'll add additional climbs to this article as i encounter them.  You can see some routes tagged in the USVI EBikers Map, as well as businesses, destinations, and some caution tags. If you have any additions, suggestion, corrections or requests please send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..