As cyclists, hardly anything holds more allure than the classic climb. Whether long and drawn out or short and punchy, the classic can come in many forms, but it always has a few basic components. It must be challenging enough to be looked forward to with a mixture of dread and awe for months ahead of time, perhaps even trained for specifically. The climb must be well-known enough to be repeated by many cyclists so one can see how his or her time measures up. The third specification is that the climb must be scenic. If we’re grinding away in our granny gear for at least an hour (and often much longer), we might as well be able to look around and enjoy it.
Based on these specifications, I’ve assembled four classic Cycling House climbs. These climbs are the bucket list kind, the kind you’ll look forward to all year long, and take feel both proud and humbled by at the summit. These climbs are always worth it.
1. Going to the Sun Climb: Neither particularly long nor extremely steep (the climb actually hovers at around 5%, and actually levels out towards the end), Going to the Sun is made special by it’s location in beautiful Glacier National Park. Winding and narrow, and a true feat of modern engineering (and snow plowing!) the road often has snow on it until June. As It’s important to relax on this climb, and to take plenty of time and lots of photos. Keep an eye out for wildlife and have fun. This is a climb that is truly meant to be enjoyed for its views. An extremely fast time for this climb would be around an hour, but once again, this is a climb to savor.
2. Sa Calobra: Perhaps the most fun thing about this climb is the sheer number of cyclists that climb and descend the hairpin curves on a daily basis. A quick Strava search shows me ranked among 16,714 cyclists. Old and young, fast and slow, everyone is out there, switching back and forth on the long turns that seem to climb up forever from the Mediterranean. People pass and say, “good morning!” while you work to catch up with the group just ahead. Just above you, you can see the next switchback, and above it, the next. It seems like the climb will never end, but soon enough it does and you’re drinking an espresso at the summit cafe. At just under 6 miles and around 7% this climb isn’t the longest or the steepest, but it’s a beauty, and it’s a great chance to push yourself if you’re feeling so inclined.
Featured on: Mallorca
3. Mount Figueroa: Most refer to Mount Figueroa as the crown jewel of cycling in the Santa Ynez Valley. The ride can be done a variety of ways but at the shortest it is a 40 mile loop with 5,000 feet of climbing and with steepest grades of 8-10% . The climb is long and difficult enough to warrant the term “epic,” and offers spectaculars views of the surrounding mountains, Santa Ynez valley and the Pacific ocean. The descent down from Mount Figueroa has all the most pleasing characteristics of a twisty European descent. It empties out into the valley that passes Michael Jackson’s old Neverland Ranch before hitting Los Olivos, which offers wine tasting rooms for many of the surrounding wineries. Recovery drink anyone?
4. Mount Lemmon: Mount Lemmon is without a doubt the Queen Stage during our week-long Tucson camps. It’s an amazing climb to train for and complete, and to ride from our the doorstep of our House, which is based about 5 miles from where the climbing actually begins. After your little warmup, you’ll have about 20 miles of climbing at around 5% grade. If you’re able to look around while you’re climbing you’ll see the desert flora and fauna change as you climb from around 3000 ft to more than 80000. Even as late as June, snow can stick around the top of Lemmon so bring a jacket for the fun and fast descent.
Sarah Raz, Camps Coordinator
For any information on these, or more climbs, give us a call or send us an email: 406-219-1318, or [email protected]