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  1. #1
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    Grade on Zoo Hill?

    Bicycle Climbs puts the steepest grade on Zoo Hill at about 20%, or a hair under.

    Does anybody know where the ~20% sections are? My best guess would be at the hairpin, if you take the very inside of the turn?

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    i was thinking it was one of the kicks towards the top, just before the false-peak (on 60th?). meaning at the top of this last section:



    but yeah that hairpin is nasty, even on the outside of the lane. although i don't think the hairpin itself would be long enough to show up on the graph as 20%.

    i love that climb! i try to do it at least monthly.
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    Oh yeah that climb is a brute. According to Mr. Google, the climb is 2.7 miles long, starts at 100 feet MSL and ends at 1400 feet. So 1300 feet of climbing in 2.7 miles, or just about an average grade of 9%.

    The trick is, as you've discovered, that some sections are much much steeper. The switchback turns about half-way up are the steepest IIRC.

    Getting to the top is awesome, because you then get to do a 40 mph descent down the west side until you hit Coal Creek. All the roads on that side (Forest Dr, Lakemont, Cougar) have nice bike lanes and very few stop signs and traffic lights.

    My loop: Bellevue to Marymoor via 520 trail, then clockwise around Lake Sammamish Pkwy to Issaquah, Newport Way to SE 54th (AKA Zoo road), over the mountain (54th, 60th, Cougar, Lakemont, Forest) and down to Coal Creek, then Factoria, and finally Lake Washington loop back home.

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    My family lives just off 164th before you get to Newport Way so I made a quick 45 minutes loop out of it.
    It would have been faster than 45 mins, but I am on a folder

    I had never ridden the hill before and hadn't driven it in 5+. None of the road surprised me except the rollers at the top, as mentioned. In a car they don't seem so bad, so I thought that the last big roller was the BIG hill... big surprise to get to the top of it and see a bigger one still ahead

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    Quote Originally Posted by reidconti View Post
    Bicycle Climbs puts the steepest grade on Zoo Hill at about 20%, or a hair under.

    Does anybody know where the ~20% sections are? My best guess would be at the hairpin, if you take the very inside of the turn?
    20% is a guess I made when I put up the site.

    Having ridden a lot of hills now, I think that the hairpin might reach 20%, but I don't think the rest of it gets much above 15% in a lot of places.

    The "classic" course (up to the gate) is 1300+ feet over 2.5 miles. There is supposedly a way to get a little more climbing by heading up a private road to the right in the upper third, but I haven't done it.

    If anybody has a reliable inclinometer (not sure if I trust the garmins as I've seen some screwy readings where people are saying 25% and we're at about 13%) and wants to give me a better figure, I'll update it.

    I think the first section is the worst because it's so sudden and steep, the second is the worst because of the rollers with those *steep* little hills, and the third part because it's relentless.

    I actually like Montreaux (just to the west) less because there are no breaks at all. You can also try mountain home to the east.

    And if you like all of these, you *must* do the SIR Mountain populaire in early September. Starts on the zoo, ends on mountain home. 5K over 70 miles, lots of climbing, self-supported (though there is traditionally free food at the end), $0.
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    Thanks for the info; I would have said probably 15% too. But then, I've never had an inclinometer either and just go by posted numbers and what others say. Also, it's hard to compare on the folder versus my Trek which is a triple. But I figured if I can even keep the folder moving it can't be 20% I've been climbing some hills here around the old neighborhood and had forgotten how steep they are. Fortunately most will only be a couple hundred feet of climbing, then a break. I'd never be able to keep going with this kind of gearing -- I might as well be on a fixie. I guess it's pretty true to my memories of riding this stuff on a BMX bike as a kid

    I may try Montreaux, but the lack of breaks would be rough on the 4 speed.

    I'm not a local, but I am a native, back visiting for another day. Growing up here I always hated hills. I'm not sure how I came to love them, I guess flats are just too boring and monotonous for me now. Also, it's easier to plan a 4-5 hour climbing route than a 4-5 hour flat route, because the distances involved are shorter. Plus, I gotta use these big legs for something!

    5k/70 sounds like my kind of deal, a frequent weekend ride for me, though the scenery here is bound to be better. Too bad I won't be in town. Maybe I'll sign up for RAMROD next year, it'll be a good excuse to visit again.

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    I ride zoo hill all the time (live just over the top) and my ibike tells me that it's mostly 14-18% with a few 20% sections - the last switchback and at a few points on the rollercoaster hills at the top.

    It's interesting to note that the steep parts of Lakemont Blvd still aren't even as tough as the easy parts of zoo hill. With all that said, if you have a compact or a triple, are in halfway decent shape, and you have the mental determination to make it to the top then it's a wonderful ride and you get a great feeling when you reach the top.

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