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  1. #1
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    Steepest Hill You've Ridden?

    I was talking to my brother last night about a motorbike trip he did last year from Seattle to Laguna Seca for the AMA races. His group took the scenic route getting there, and wandered into the Sierra Nevadas for a day or so. He said they found a road that was 26% in places, and I couldn't help but wonder if anyone was crazy enough to ride a bike up it. I know L'Alp Duez is about 15-17% all the way, and that's crazy steep.

    So what's the steepest climb you've ever done? Up or down?

  2. #2
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    15% is not crazy steep, its about where steep starts. The alpine switchback roads are all graded so that an animal can haul a load.
    For me 18% is where roads get really steep.
    I have ridden 25% grades and they are killers going up and scary going down.

  3. #3
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    When I toured across Europe, I only got off and walked my bike once. That was in Wales. I don't know what the grade was, but the road had no switchbacks--just straight up. I did read later that some roads have as much as a 34 percent grade and are now labelled "not suitable for motor vehicles." They must have been built before anyone had even dreamed up the automobile.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

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    Announcer EventServices's Avatar
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    27% at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan.
    Did it once. Never again.

    Also, there's a great little hill on the Ohio University campus that goes up to downtown Athens. Super steep.
    Best of all, it's cobbled.

  5. #5
    Senior Member GeezerGeek's Avatar
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    The steepest hill -- I don't know how steep it was but if I didn't lean far enough forward, I did a wheelie. If I leaned too far forward the rear wheel spun. It was a balancing act to make that hill but it worked if I leaned just far enough forward so the front wheel left the ground just a little bit with every crank.

  6. #6
    H23
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    I love Pittsburgh.... http://wpwbikeclub.org/pgh_hills.html

    Negely avenue @ 5th is what I would call pretty damn steep. It is supposedly 15.8%. Amazingly, it looks even worse than it really is. Here, I googled a pic of negely ave hill... http://tinyurl.com/6blfe

    Its hard to rate hills by steepness alone. One has to consider length. A burst of anerobic effort up a short 22% grade may not be as bad as the special torture of hours of climbing a much lower grade.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonny B
    I was talking to my brother last night about a motorbike trip he did last year from Seattle to Laguna Seca for the AMA races. His group took the scenic route getting there, and wandered into the Sierra Nevadas for a day or so. He said they found a road that was 26% in places, and I couldn't help but wonder if anyone was crazy enough to ride a bike up it. I know L'Alp Duez is about 15-17% all the way, and that's crazy steep.

    So what's the steepest climb you've ever done? Up or down?
    We have an offroad hill that is only 200 metres long I estimate that it is only a 50 metre height climb from the Maps so is an average of 25%. It's not because it steepens at the end, but this is a hard hill. Weight too far back and the front wheel lifts, Too far forward and it is wheelspin. Grip is at a premium in the winter, and in the summer it is 2" of dust so not easy at any time. Thank goodness it is only 200 metres and 22/32 gearing helps. I only climb this about 50% of the time, but it is nice to take the fit newcomer that has shown how unfit you are, as this hill takes technique and skill and is a basket to achieve.

    Down hill is different, Off road Downhill training trails are steep, and I take them with care, we have one that is 45degree for the first 50 metres but almost perfectly smooth for that bit. The problem with this hill is the exposed roots on what could be a fast section, but I take care so I don't damage the trees that line the trail.

  8. #8
    Photog Extraordinaire Crack'n'fail's Avatar
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    There's two that come to my mind. I've never ridden in Europe, but in the states there are two that have really tested me:

    The climb to Brasstown Bald that is featured in the Tour De Georgia. It's long and has pitches of around 23-25% and I had a camera strapped to my back.

    There's also one in Maggie Valley NC that leads up to a ski resort that is about 3 miles long and has repeated sustained pitches of 25 or more. I haven't been able to get up it, it's my target hill for this year. Bear in mind that I don't have good gears for those kinds of pitches, I spend the majority of my time in Ohio or doing the more gradual climbs along the blue ridge parkway so I'm riding a 42X23.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    The steepest paved road up a hill in the world is Baldwin St. in New Zealand. It is a 1 in 2.66, or 38% grade ... see a description of it here:
    http://www.bikereader.com/contributo...ley/hills.html

    A friend of mine rode it a few weeks ago when he was there. He's a very strong climber, and it took him 3 tries to make it up.

    As for me, I've encountered a 25% grade in Wales, but walked it. The steepest I've actually ridden is probably something like 15%. I'm not much of a climber ... yet.

  10. #10
    lowracer ninja master lowracer1's Avatar
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    26% grade hill at the Hilly hundred and I did it on the carbon lowracer with tailfairing.
    chris@promocycle.net

  11. #11
    Zin
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    13% on the Talimena Scenic Byway. Dang near killed me!

    I can't imagine the grades that are being mentioned in this thread.

    EDIT:removed photo since the link stopped working.
    Last edited by N7CZinMT; 02-20-05 at 09:15 AM.

  12. #12
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by H23
    I love Pittsburgh.... http://wpwbikeclub.org/pgh_hills.html

    Negely avenue @ 5th is what I would call pretty damn steep. It is supposedly 15.8%. Amazingly, it looks even worse than it really is. Here, I googled a pic of negely ave hill... http://tinyurl.com/6blfe
    \
    Actually it looks less steep than I thought it would. But it's hard to convey steepness in a photo.

  13. #13
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    http://www.machka.net/pbp/post.htm

    If you scroll down a little ways in the story, you'll reach "Sept 2nd" and a collection of photos of the Long Mynd.

    It is very hard to convey steepness in a photo, but that's the 25% grade I tackled (walked).

  14. #14
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    I used to live in a pennine village, approachable by five ascents, the easiest of which had some 25% stretches in it. The hardest one had a long run of 30%plus switchbacks for about a mile.... it took me a year to attempt it, and then on my mountain bike. Sometimes in wet weather, you just couldn't keep enough traction to ride it without putting a foot down occasionally. The camber and surface of these roads was horrible as well!

    Britain is full of these little surprises, especially in the north of England, Wales and Scotland.

  15. #15
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Moab Utah Slickrock Trail. (I'm sorry to stick in a MTB trail here) there are 3 climbs in the high 40%'s. These are so steep my body above my navel was extended beyond the handle bars and head even with the front side of the tire. Incredible traction on slickrock sandstone and lowest gears make this not only possible, but exhilarating. Oh yeah, you get to go down these babies too, drop the seat all the way and get that fanny of yours out as far as possible. This is why I like to put on fresh brake pads before a trip to Moab.
    Sorry for the MTB story, couldn't resist.
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  16. #16
    senile member
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    damn, i thought my 2km 12% was already good enough!

  17. #17
    Pat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crack'n'fail
    There's two that come to my mind. I've never ridden in Europe, but in the states there are two that have really tested me:

    The climb to Brasstown Bald that is featured in the Tour De Georgia. It's long and has pitches of around 23-25% and I had a camera strapped to my back.

    There's also one in Maggie Valley NC that leads up to a ski resort that is about 3 miles long and has repeated sustained pitches of 25 or more. I haven't been able to get up it, it's my target hill for this year. Bear in mind that I don't have good gears for those kinds of pitches, I spend the majority of my time in Ohio or doing the more gradual climbs along the blue ridge parkway so I'm riding a 42X23.
    I have been to Brasstown Bald. I talked to the ranger there and he said it maxes out at 28%. The steepest I have done that I know of is right around 20% and that only for a short distance.

  18. #18
    Photog Extraordinaire Crack'n'fail's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat
    I have been to Brasstown Bald. I talked to the ranger there and he said it maxes out at 28%. The steepest I have done that I know of is right around 20% and that only for a short distance.
    Ouch. Thanks for the correction Pat.

  19. #19
    Photog Extraordinaire Crack'n'fail's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty
    Moab Utah Slickrock Trail. (I'm sorry to stick in a MTB trail here) there are 3 climbs in the high 40%'s. These are so steep my body above my navel was extended beyond the handle bars and head even with the front side of the tire. Incredible traction on slickrock sandstone and lowest gears make this not only possible, but exhilarating. Oh yeah, you get to go down these babies too, drop the seat all the way and get that fanny of yours out as far as possible. This is why I like to put on fresh brake pads before a trip to Moab.
    Sorry for the MTB story, couldn't resist.
    Man, shifty. I completely forgot about that. I've ridden out there too and there ARE some steep spots on that trail. Before I went I always pictured that trail just being fast and fun and not all that challenging, man was I wrong. I got whipped on that thing, hitting all those steep bursty climbs.

  20. #20
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crack'n'fail
    Man, shifty. I completely forgot about that. I've ridden out there too and there ARE some steep spots on that trail. Before I went I always pictured that trail just being fast and fun and not all that challenging, man was I wrong. I got whipped on that thing, hitting all those steep bursty climbs.
    If you fall on one of them, your bike slides all the way to the bottom( surface looks like a rainbow ). First time you fall you think your going to the bottom too, but you stay put, usually. After your first success you'll think your pretty hot, then someone's grandmother from Moab comes up behind you waving you out of her way. There is no place more fun than Moab.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  21. #21
    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    There is a local hill called "Smile", it maintains 18% plus for most of its climb. There is a short local climb that I have stalled out on in a 42/17 and another guy hit a leaf on the way down and started a ten foot slide.(Those wacky fixed gears) I have also "climbed" a set of rocky ledges on my stock trials. It was about fifteen feet of climbing and maybe 12-18 inches of horizontal change. Took about five minutes. I have often climbed stuff on my trials so steep the pedal touched the slope with the bike upright.
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  22. #22
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    The steepest one that I ride up is Clarke in Westmount 15% for about 170 ft height. When I was a child in Dartmouth S. Devon there were a couple of 25% hills that I aften rode down, but always walked up as I only had a 1 speed. In Bristol there was a short hill Between the Wells Rd and the Bath rd that was 30% - I think it may have been eliminated now by urban reconstruction.

  23. #23
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    Some of the steepest hills I have ever ridden are the Paterberg and the Muur van Geraardsbergen. They both have a max. gradient of 20%, which is quite a challenge to me. Fortunately, these Flemish 'zits' are short.

    As regards the longest hills, or rather: mountains, my candidates are the Mont Ventoux and the Col du Tourmalet.
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  24. #24
    Boffin TitaniuMerlin's Avatar
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    I would have said Nufenen Pass in Switzerland, but that is only 10% grade...though i had only been riding a road bike/touring bike for 6 months before hand. I also had about 30lbs or more of gear attached to the back of my bike, which makes any climb that much harder. In terms of total elevation i believe it is the highest i have climbed. As far as steepness goes, there were several spots in Italy where the grade was 25% or thereabouts.

    I was looking at this program my friend has called DeLorme Topo USA and we found a road near here that is reportedly 40% grade at one point for 20 yards or something like that. On the map, you cant tell if it is paved or not but i think it is. We plan on making a road trip out there sometime to see for ourselves.
    Titanium Merlin ~ Matt

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev.Chuck
    There is a local hill called "Smile", it maintains 18% plus for most of its climb. There is a short local climb that I have stalled out on in a 42/17 and another guy hit a leaf on the way down and started a ten foot slide.(Those wacky fixed gears)
    I made it up a short section of 18% on my 44/17 fixie, but would have stalled if it were of any significant length. 12% and 14% sections separated by sustained 8% and 10% grades were alot of work, but not as hard as that short 18%. The Paper Boy weave helps me on some of those nasty pitches

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