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so, where the hard climbs are?(25 posts)

so, where the hard climbs are?cyclopathic
Dec 18, 2003 2:31 PM
came across guide to TdF climbs, and have the question: which area in US has the highest concentration of Cat 1 (or HC climbs), California?

I know some shorter climbs at Blue Ridge in VA got classified as Cat 1, prominently Wintergreen, which has several miles of constant steep grade, in 15-22% range, also one to Mnt Lake resort out of Mnt of Misery.. Both at low end ~2700' but have very long steep sections.

here's the extract from TdF climb guide:
It has been my observation that about a 3-4% grade is necessary for a climb to get rated. Also, a climb must gain at least 70m for it to be rated.

The organizers of the Tour de France also claim that the quality of the road surface can influence the rating of a climb. If the surface is very poor, like some of the more obscure climbs in the Pyrenees, then the rating may be bumped up.

4th Category - the lowest category, climbs of 200-500 feet(70-150m).
3rd Category - climbs of 500-1600 feet(150-500m).
2nd Category - climbs of 1600-2700 ft.(500-800m)
1st Category - climbs of 2700-5000ft(800-1500m)
Hors Category - the hardest, climbs of 5000ft+(1500m+)

Full version at

O'k as Akirasho would say
be the bike /or be the saddle as Dave says/
a few around hereDougSloan
Dec 18, 2003 2:39 PM
I've ridden up and down Townes Pass...

"The east side of Towne Pass in Death Valley is definitely a 1st Category climb!" 5,000 feet ascent, uninterrupted, over about 12 miles.

Climbs nere here include:

Old Tollhouse - 2800 feet over 6.5 miles
Big Creek -- 2,000 feet over 2.5 miles (steep)

The Climb to Kaiser 155 mile event has concentrated in it 12,000 feet of climbing in 65 miles, from near sea level to 9,300 feet. It contain both Old Tollhouse and Big Creek, as well as dozens of other climbs.

The Death Ride, near Lake Tahoe, has 5 long climbs, but not really that steep.

There are dozens of others, too, here in California. They may not go as high as the Rockies, but there are many more, they are generally steeper, and most don't start at 5,000 feet or higher like Colorado.

Tunitas Creek in the SF Bay Area is fungtx
Dec 18, 2003 3:19 PM
in same area: Montebello, Kings Mtn my favorites (nm)PmbH
Dec 18, 2003 4:10 PM
A bit further south: Jamieson Creek road (nm)Steve Young
Dec 18, 2003 4:21 PM
none of these compare to Europemohair_chair
Dec 18, 2003 4:47 PM
Jamison Creek is a nasty climb, something like 11% for 2 miles. Tunitas, only the middle section is hard. Kings Mountain isn't bad at all.

These are tough climbs, but they don't compare at all to the major climbs they do in the Tour. For one thing, Alpine climbs are usually very long. L'Alpe d'Huez is 13K, or about 8 miles. Just down the road, the Col du Glandon is 30K, or 18 miles! Trust me, the Glandon never ends.

Sure Tunitas Creek is about 9 miles long, but a most of it is flat or false flat. Really, the only climbs in the Bay Area that might compare to Alpine climbs are Mt. Hamilton and Mt. Diablo. Both have the length and height, but neither is steep enough.

Actually, if you want to feel some pain in the Bay Area, do Pescadero Road followed by Alpine Road up to Skyline. That will give you an idea of what climbing in the Alps is like, minus the altitude.
Go climb Mt. ShastaThe Human G-Nome
Dec 18, 2003 5:22 PM
I'm sure you won't be dissapointed.
none of these compare to Europeesbike
Dec 18, 2003 7:31 PM
I live in the bay area and have done almost all the hard
climbs in the easy bay, marin, and the peninsula. In 2002 I did a bike tour at the same time as the TdF and climbed Mt. Ventoux and some climbs in the pyrenees. I came away with the impression that our local stuff is pretty good. Mt. Ventoux wasn't all that bad. I kept thinking from all the hype that it was going to blow me away. It didn't. Quite the contrary it is easy to find all kinds of roads much steeper right here at home (e.g. Marin street in berkeley). It is true the tdf climbs are typically significantly longer. But my impression was that if you link a few hard climbs around here together, you won't have trouble with the tdf climbs. Now I'm talking just getting up them. The tdf climbs are legendary not because their hills are somehow magically steeper or harder than anything anywhere else. The impressive part isn't the topology, it is the stunning riders who fly up those hills faster than you can possibly believe.
none of these compare to Europemapei boy
Dec 19, 2003 12:01 PM
I agree. Some of those residential streets in North Berkeley are mega-steep. They go on for quite a ways, too. Pitch-wise, they seem at least as steep as Mt. Ventoux and Alpe d'Huez - both of which I've DRIVEN UP in a little diesel Citroen. Then again, as you and the other contributors say, the dudes in the TdF aren't just toodling their way up in their 29's. They're racing...
how 'bout the Sandia Crest, NMgtx
Dec 18, 2003 8:25 PM
I've done this, also fun. Up to almost 10,640 feet
I agree...the hardest climb I know of in the southwestspookyload
Dec 18, 2003 9:29 PM
Maybe all of the US. There are lots of long climbs, but barring this one an a few others in Colorado, none break 10,000 feet. East coast climbs may be long and steep, but lack the altitude, which as we all know will bring the unaclimated to their knees. Same goes for the TDF climbs...long, but never that high. What makes the tour climbs the hardest in the world is the fact they go up them faster than I ride in the flats most of the time.
Dec 19, 2003 11:40 AM
Page Mill, Old la Honda, Kings Mountain are all nice 1500' climbs with occasional steep sections. Pescedero road to Alpine is most definately an ass-kicker. Hamalton is long but not steep. Hicks is steep but not long.

All I know is Im going to follow the last 10 stages of the Giro this year and am freaked by what awaits in the alps and dolomites!

Gibraltar Road, Santa Barbaramohair_chair
Dec 18, 2003 4:06 PM
Someone once asked Andy Hampsten if there were any climbs in the USA that matched the great European climbs, and he said Gibraltar Road. Naturally, I had to do it, and it has become a favorite of mine. At 7% average grade for 13K, and almost 4,000 feet of climbing, there's no question it would rate at least Cat 1, but probably HC.

Ebbets Pass (Hwy 4) in the Sierras is another tough climb that should rate Cat 1 or better.
Gibraltar Road, Santa Barbaralotterypick
Dec 18, 2003 5:09 PM
I'll have to do it sometime since my friends do. But one of them got a front flat flying down it and got pretty dinged up. it's amazing how well people can heal up.

If I could ask you a question. When you go down hills like that how fast do you go or allow yourself to go.

I start freaking out around 38 especially if the turns start coming.

We're talking two lane roads, one each way.
Gibraltar Road, Santa Barbaramohair_chair
Dec 18, 2003 8:59 PM
Some people can handle speed, and some can't. For most, it just takes practice, but I wouldn't worry about it. For some, it's the bike. Triathletes, especially, typically have their bikes setup wrong for descending.

Anyway, I don't descend Gibraltar. I go across the ridge on Camino Cielo to Painted Cave, then down to San Marcos and finally back to Foothill, then I close the loop. The pavement is pretty bad up there, so 38 mph is probably not a good idea.
Some Nice Climbs in Southern New Mexicotorquecal
Dec 18, 2003 4:55 PM
Near Alamogordo, the climb between Alamogordo and Cloudcroft is almost 17 miles of constant climbing, about 4,000 ft elevation gain, avg percent is about 7 but sections fall in the 10-13% range. Alamogordo to Ruidoso is a lot longer but only averages about 5%.
Anyone know where Mt.Mitchell, NC would compare?...nmcw05
Dec 18, 2003 5:30 PM
Gibraltar vs. Europe vs. MitchellSchmitt
Dec 19, 2003 4:38 PM
Have done Gibraltar and Mitchell, plus climbs in Europe.

Toughest climb, hands down, the Motirolo in Italy. 4500 feet avg grade ... don't know but it was wicked. Also did some steep stuff in switzerland, sustained 17% stuff.

Mitchell if done from Asheville is a looong ride but not impossible. The parkway was done so well it is a gentle but steady climb. Don't know how it would rate, its a Cat 1 from an elevation perspective but the gradient isn't too bad. I've only come from Asheville though, the other way is steeper.

Gibralter is a sentimental favorite after living in SB for five years. I am going back in a week- rented a house and leaving the cold roads of Boston for a week of great climbing- can't hang with the crowds out there though.

Smugglers Notch near Stowe is a short but very steep climb - good intro to those who wish to seek the vertical.
You gotta love Vermont!Racer C
Dec 18, 2003 7:58 PM
I mean, it's just so beautiful. The mountains are always pretty and always painful. There are several gaps around here and Appalachain Gap is definitely and leg and lung buster. And unlike California, you can get some snowy hell action reminiscent of Andy Hampsten, Gavia Pass 1986, Giro d'Italia! You gotta love the 8 months of Siberian weather, it puts hair on your chest.
re: so, where the hard climbs are?PbOkole
Dec 19, 2003 5:16 AM
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii. Sea level to 10000 feet, 38 miles.
White Rock Lake in Dallas...innergel
Dec 19, 2003 9:00 AM
There has to be one climb out there (Winstead Rd.) that is at least 50' of climbing over almost an entire 1/2 mile :-)
Worlds Toughestwily in pacifica
Dec 19, 2003 3:14 PM
I live in the Bay Area and have done all the San Mateo hills. They are great hills to train on but no longer seem that steep after going up them 50 times each. I had a relative visit from San Diego and I took him up Tunitus Creek and was surprised at how difficult it was for him. In SD they do not have a lot of hill. In SF you have to go out of your way to avoid hills, whereas, in SD you have to go out of your way to find decent hills.

I have also done the Death Ride and those were the toughest I have done until I did the Worlds Toughest. There is a hill known at The Wal that is about 2,200 feet in 4 miles. In sections it get around 20% and I was over my bars so far I lost traction at my rear wheel. I could not sit down or I would lose any momentum and fall over. THe toughest part was that I had never been up it so had no idea hat to expect around the next corner. Oh, and it was 96 degreee and no shade for portions. There were a lot of tough hills on this ride and I would highly reccomend it. Just be sure to take two water bottles and a camelbak as the aid stations are a good ways apart and the aid is a bit sketchy.

But hey, it is not called the Worlds 3rd or 4th Toughest Century. I am sure there are tougher rides that I have never done but this one will not disappoint you for hills.

Willy in Pacifica
Dec 19, 2003 3:46 PM
Ever heard of Big Creek? It's 2,000 feet, from about 5,000 to 7,000, in about 2.5 miles. It's about 60 miles into the Climb to Kaiser, and it can be in the 90's on that hill, too. Oh, and that's after starting here in the central valley (Fresno) at 300 feet elevation and going up and down a bit before getting to Big Creek. After Big Creek, you then climb another 2,300 feet to Kaiser Pass, and the last part of that is around 15%.

Mt. Diablolyleseven
Dec 19, 2003 9:52 PM
Mt. Diablo in Contra Costa County. I believe it is about 11 miles and climbs over 2500 feet.
See above link about Sandia peakspookyload
Dec 19, 2003 11:05 PM
It cimbs for 21 miles and goes from 5000' to over 10,000. More climbing and at much higher altitudes.