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Any Sonora climbers on here?

Old 02-12-21, 11:49 AM
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SeanMc
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Any Sonora climbers on here?

Hi ya'll! I live in the east bay and have my regular climbing routes that I can hit within 5 minutes from my house. getting normal workouts on super steep (Up to 38% sprints) roads. the steeper the better.

However, after 40+ years of living in the bay, Im finally priced out and moving to Sonora CA for a little while. (Licking my covid-unemployment wounds...) Im looking around on Strava to find some good regular climbs that dont require racking the bike up to Sonora Pass. But its hard to tell whats what. Any ideas?

Steepest roads possible, within 20-30 miles of Sonora, with little vehicle traffic.
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Old 02-12-21, 11:51 AM
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BTW, Im on a gravel bike (sort of). I mostly use it as a road bike but, also interested in dirt/gravel/single track.
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Old 02-12-21, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by SeanMc View Post
BTW, Im on a gravel bike (sort of). I mostly use it as a road bike but, also interested in dirt/gravel/single track.
The two most obvious candidates are Ward's Ferry Road and the Old Priest Grade. You can do both of them as a loop pretty much from your new front door. Go counter-clockwise to go up Old Priest.

According to a long out-of-print guide (see below) I have, leave town on Campo Seco Road (heading SW), Turn left on Jacksonville Road and ride it to the end. Turn left onto Hwy 120/Hwy 49 (two wide lanes, wide shoulders, fast traffic going to and from Yosemite - you won't be on it very long). Stay on 120 when 49 turns right. Very soon after that, turn right onto Old Priest Grade and enjoy (?) two miles of stupidly steep road. (My book says it averages 14% with a pitch of almost 21%, but it sure looks steeper than that from the New Priest Grade on the other side of the canyon.). At the top, turn right back onto Hwy 120 (it's narrower here). Turn left onto Ward's Ferry Road - it drops down to the Tuolumne River and climbs back out again. Ward's Ferry should get you back to your neck of the woods.

Have a great ride. Personally, I wouldn't do that ride on a bet, but then I'm old, fat and slow. Hell, I won't even drive on Old Priest Grade, up or down. But if you want stupid steep, Old Priest is the stupid-steepest road I know of in the area.

BTW, the book I referred to is called "Cyclist' Route Atlas: A Guide to the Gold County and High Sierra/South" (there is also a "/North" book). It's by Randall Gray Braun. The publication date is 1988, but it is still an immensely useful resource if you can find it. It was published by Heyday Books. As I said, it is long out of print, but it is possible they still have some knocking about - they are a small Berkeley publisher, so who knows.
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Old 02-12-21, 12:33 PM
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Much appreciated!! IWhile i'll be new to the area, these road names are familiar and I look forward to exploring them!!
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Old 02-18-21, 10:40 PM
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bikingshearer and SeanMc you can find that book right here.
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Old 02-19-21, 03:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Korina View Post
bikingshearer and SeanMc you can find that book right here.
Cool. Many thanks. I had no idea.

I searched "Randall Braun" on that website and they also have his other two guidebooks (Gold Country/High Sierra North and Delta Farm & Wine Country). The used ones are cheap. (At $89, the new copy of the High Sierra South book is not.) These are 30+ year old guides, but still have very useful information about roads that are still fun to ride. I'd say it's worth it to get a set of the used ones.
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Old 02-22-21, 10:21 PM
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Check out the pjamm cycling website, I love this resource for hill climb info. Find the California map and zoom in on your area of interest.
https://pjammcycling.com/home;mode=s...2=CA;dsply=100

Regarding the Old Priest Grade, I’d think twice on cycling it. I’ve driven it many times, both directions, and some of the traffic can be unsafe. If you do ride it go early on a low traffic day.
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Old 02-23-21, 11:43 AM
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^^^ That is a fantastic website. Many thanks for sharing the link.
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Old 05-20-21, 09:33 PM
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I feel so silly.....
"Where are the steep climbs in Sonora" lol.
I cant leave the front door without riding up monsters!!!
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Old 05-23-21, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by 73StellaSX76 View Post
Check out the pjamm cycling website, I love this resource for hill climb info. Find the California map and zoom in on your area of interest.

Regarding the Old Priest Grade, Id think twice on cycling it. Ive driven it many times, both directions, and some of the traffic can be unsafe. If you do ride it go early on a low traffic day.
great site! thanks. The question is.... use it to find what to seek out or what to avoid
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Old 05-26-21, 05:37 PM
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I have all three of the Randall Braun books. They're dated 1986 for Delta, Gold Country North 1987, and Gold Country South 1988.

While all the roads are still there, I think the conditions of the area are out of date, and probably can find better resources online (Strava Heatmap to start).

I think this link will work ... it includes a pic of the Folsom Lake loop, so for those that have ridden it, they could be the judge. I followed the books advice ~1989 and rode up Highway 49 from the Confluence to Auburn, but I'd never consider doing it now (straight up Stagecoach if I have 32's, or the long way around up Old Foresthill and back over the bridge if on smaller):

https://imgur.com/a/U4wxZUr
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Old 05-27-21, 07:39 AM
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If you're up for a nice route with an overnight stay, Sonora to Markleeville is a great ride.

We rode that route on our very first Kiss of Death Ride in 2003. 90 miles, ~10,000 vertical feet.

Mail or UPS a change of clothes and toiletries to Markleeville, so you don't have to carry them.


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