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Santa Barbara - Refugio Rd to Camino Cielo to Santa Ynez Peak Hill Climb Ride Report

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Santa Barbara - Refugio Rd to Camino Cielo to Santa Ynez Peak Hill Climb Ride Report

Old 07-01-10, 10:45 PM
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Santa Barbara - Refugio Rd to Camino Cielo to Santa Ynez Peak Hill Climb Ride Report

Refugio Rd is probably the least known long Santa Barbara area climb - everybody seems to stick to Gibraltar and Old San Marcos/Painted Cave. Refugio requires a small drive up the coast, but the climbing and scenery (especially this time of year and earlier) make the effort worth it. It is a fairly long hill climb, going from sea level to an elevation of about 4,000 ft. This fact was actually a surprise to me the first time - I didn't know Camino Cielo was even paved for this stretch.

My ride report (with maps and everything): Santa Barbara Refugio Rd to West Camino Cielo to Santa Ynez Peak Climb

Stats:

Refugio Rd Section:
  • Main climb: 8.6% for 3.7 miles
  • Steepest section: 10.0% for 2.4 miles

W Camino Cielo Section:
  • 5.8% for 5.7 miles (1740 ft gained)
  • 4,000 ft elevation summit point
  • ~9% for last mile steep push
  • 8%+ steeper mile-long section early on
  • Aside from the two steep sections above, Camino Cielo is very mellow
  • Small descent just past the 3 mile point

A select few pictures (see the ride report for tons more pictures):













Pretty cool ride.
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Old 07-02-10, 08:54 PM
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Refugio is a great climb but the upper section (last 2 miles or so before cc) is really rough and a pain going down. I did repeats of it one year training for everest challenge. When you get to the end of the paving on cc there is a gated driveway up to an observatory/radio telescope type thingie that puts you over 4000 feet if you don't mind a little minor trespass...

If you want a real challenge you can go up Refugio from the Santa ynez side, it's not paved, or the unpaved connection from the peak to the other side of west cc by the gun range.
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Old 07-02-10, 08:56 PM
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Oh yeah, I almost forgot, it's actually about half a mile at around 15% just after the houses past circle bar b.
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Old 07-02-10, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by umd View Post
Refugio is a great climb but the upper section (last 2 miles or so before cc) is really rough and a pain going down. I did repeats of it one year training for everest challenge. When you get to the end of the paving on cc there is a gated driveway up to an observatory/radio telescope type thingie that puts you over 4000 feet if you don't mind a little minor trespass...

If you want a real challenge you can go up Refugio from the Santa ynez side, it's not paved, or the unpaved connection from the peak to the other side of west cc by the gun range.
I can't imagine doing repeats of Refugio - one descent in a day down that road is about enough for me. I was curious about where exactly the 4,000 ft line was - riding up to the gate that blocks access to the observatory my Garmin (a Forerunner 305) was hovering between about 3980 ft and 4000 ft. Next time I'll have to add in the little trespass to get it above 4000 for sure. Actually, the first time up, I just rode a hundred or so feet on the unpaved section of CC to get to 4000.

I know someone who did the unpaved Refugio climb on a road bike. Two flats later and they swore they would never attempt it again. I've driven that road - it doesn't look pleasant for a road bike.

Originally Posted by umd View Post
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, it's actually about half a mile at around 15% just after the houses past circle bar b.
You're right. I should have mentioned that since the 10% average doesn't quite do the climb justice.
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