When I first started riding here in the DC area I asked a rider next to me where the good climbing was. He said we were about to do a few. After going up Old Anglers, Great Falls and Brick yard, I asked someone else where the climbing was. He told me Sugarloaf.
I like to climb, I am not great at it - in fact I regularly get dropped by the guys I train with in the mountains but I do not consider Sugarloaf a climb.
Then I discovered the Jay's Lost River Barn. That is the best climbing but I am keeping this to within 2 hours of DC.
About a year and a half ago Dave Fuentes introduced me to Mt Weather. That's a pretty good climb. No real switch backs though and the hardest part looms right in front of you like a road to heaven.
The next climb Steve Grant told me about. Blue Mtn near Sky meadows. Really cool climb - plenty of switchbacks and it tops out to a dirt road. If you do a loop of it you can include Naked Mtn which is pretty short but is a nice part of Leeds Manor that passes a winery.
Skyline seems to have the rest of the great climbs around, startin of with the 4 mile climb from Front Royal to the Visitor center. Kind of steep, switchback and shaded.
Another good one starts in Speryville on 211, goes up to Sky line and goes down to Lurray (or the reverse). This used to be my favorite.
Yesterday Joe Dombrowski introduced me to what is the hardest climb so far. It is just off the Page Valley course on a road called Tanner's Ridge. This climb starts of with a beast of a wall that resembles the hardest part of Mt Weather and immediately put me in a 39x25. From the gun I was fighting wanting to paper-boy from one side of the road to the other. That first wall is followed by 5 or 6 more just like it but with some lulls and flat spots between them. The non-wall spots are not long enough though for you to recover - unless you completely stop. Right when you think it can't get any harder it turns to gravel. You know your close to the top when you see the graveyard on your left and you finally to the top when you hit Sky line and Joe D and Kevin Gotleb are kind enough to be waiting for you.
Next up is the climb up Red Gate