Great "unknown" climbs

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Mar 19, 2010
My vote goes for Pico do Arieiro on Madeira Island: 1807m in 19.5km and breathtakingly scary as you pass some monumental cliffs.
Apr 1, 2009
El Pistolero said:
Does anyone know some cool climbs in the Balkan(or South eastern Europe if you want to be politically correct)? Those climbs seem perfect for this thread.

There are three sides you can climb Mount Kopaonik in Serbia. All 3 average over 6 % and you gain 1000-1400 m altitude (all on quality paved roads). Also, plenty of climbs in Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Slovenia. Tour of Serbia uses a nice climb onto mount Romania (in Bosnia), which averages just over 6 % over 11 km, with sections of up to 15 %.
Cannot find the profiles though, sorry:eek:.
Montbas Dessus, Switzerland (18,6km, 5,8%):

Located in the Sion valley, this could easily be linked to the difficult Ovronnaz and the easier side of the Col du Lein from the west, and Crans-Montana and Anzère from the east. It also gets steeper; the first 10km are at 6,5%, but after a couple of km of false flat it ramps up with the last 6km averaging 6,8%, but reaching stretches of 13-14%.

Main drawback:
If you're going to climb this, why not just climb the Col du Sanetsch next door?
Also nearby, Les Grosses Fontaines, Switzerland (8,6km, 9,4%):

Gradients of pain, road surface of even more of it:

And this is what we're climbing:

A problem for using this in Romandie or Suisse is that there aren't many passes nearby, so it's difficult to really put into a super challenging stage.
May 6, 2009
Could you make it a short stage (say 110km), but with some small rolling hills before starting the main climb?
Reverend_T_Preedy said:
There's loads of cobble roads/streets/hills in West Yorkshire. You could quite easily make a fantastic race in that area that could match the RVV for cobble hills.

The most famous in that area is 'Shibden Wall' (ie Lee Lane) near Halifax. It's listed in the book of UK's 100 greatest climbs. I can't find a profile for it but climb by bike does says (when you add a little bit on the end that's not cobbled) 'This is short very steep "Flanders", style cobble climb of 1,8 KM. It starts with an 10% ramp of about 20 meters into a 25% cobble section which lasts for most the climb and then ends with a 6% finish at the top of Swales Moore'.

Halifax Lane which is also listed in '100 greatest cycling climbs' is pretty good too and could easily be added into a race along with Shibden Wall. You could quite easily put on a race in West Yorkshire that would make Gibert wince.
Oct 16, 2009
Alpe d'Huez said:
Meanwhile, just for kicks, here's maybe the most brutal climb on the planet . The astronomically steep road to the 13,796' Mauna Kea.


That's like Mt. Everest for cyclists.
Mauna Kea not Everest of cyclists

The one thing that's great in my mind about Mauna Kea is that it starts from sea-level, but in terms of altitude its summit is lower than Mount Evans', a really great climb that one with great scenery (much much nicer than Pikes Peak) and a nice race held every year.

As for paved roads, La Cumbre, just outside of La Paz (Bolivia), on the road to Yungas, culminates at 4653 meters, I have climbed it several times. There was a race up to the pass in 1966 (probably also on previous years) but I missed it, at the time only the first few km were paved and at places you sunk deep in dust. In 1997 it was paved to the top and a bit further.

As for unpaved roads, you have a number of them in South America (Peru, Bolivia in particular) above 5000m. I have gone up to Mount Chacaltaya a number of times, starting at various altitudes (3200, 3500, 4800m). The road ends at 5240 m. at the ski lodge (no more skiing, thanks global warming) after passing the entrance of the Cosmic ray lab at 5220m.

In the 1960's when I first climbed it, the road was horrendous and my gearing on my transformed racing bike (fat tires) totally inadequate. The road was almost as bad the last time I climbed it, in 1997, but in spite of my 30 extra years it was much easier (but a bit slower) as I used a mountain bike. I understand the road was somewhat improved a few years ago.

You could even ride up Uturuncu in South Lipez at 6000m without seeing any snow but I understand there is a stretch in fine ash which seems unrideable by mountain bike.
Sillayajuay is another 6000m. volcano with a road to the top, but occasionnally it has snow. (That's what a Bolivian guide told me last year). I found Sillayajuay on google but spelled a bit differently. Never heard of a cyclist going up there.

In Tibet and ****stan-China (near their border in particular) there are a few passes above 5000 meters, but the altitude often quoted for Khardung La is really "only" about 5200-5300m. I won't repeat here the erroneous altitude you usually read.

Looks like ****stan is a dirty word :(
Let's try Thecountywhereoussamadiedstan"
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I'm amazed that nobody (including myself) has posted this one yet, but here's Haza del Lino (Spain). This is right on the south coast and could easily be a Vuelta staple.

There's the side from Castell de Ferro via Rubite:

This is 22,2km at 5,8%, but just look at that brutal middle section, where the key moves would be made!

Alternatively, you can tackle it, once more from the coast, from Castillo de Baños, via Polopos:

This is 18km long at a steeper average gradient of 7,1%, but at a more consistent grade and without the pitches of up to 18% that the Rubite road sees; the Polopos road tops out at 14%.

To climb this one you have to start literally on the edge of the Mediterranean:

Swiftly climbing to some 1300m of altitude looking out across the mountains, with the sea still visible beneath you:

This is a climb that they really, really need to use. Perhaps the Puerto de Camacho (20km, 4,8%) could lead in to it - this joins the Rubite road near the top (it's noted as the Órgiva turning on the first profile) so could either descend the Rubite road then climb the Polopos road to Haza del Lino, or turn left at the Puerto de Camacho, go through Haza del Lino the first time, descend via Polopos then climb the Rubite road to the stage finish.
Jul 28, 2010
Someone mentioned the climbs in Tibet/Nepal, do you mean this one??
From Climb by Bike:
The climbing with greatest difference in altitude in the world. This is a section of the mythic route from Kathmandu to Lhasa. The road is not paved. Magnificent scenery.

The Barabise (Nepal)-Tong La (Tibet) is situated in Xizang (Tibet) and belongs to the Himalaya. Starting from Barabise, the Barabise (Nepal)-Tong La (Tibet) ascent is 126 km long. Over this distance, you climb 4260 heightmeters. The average percentage is thus 3.3 %.
That's right, 126 KMS OF UNPAVED PAIN!!

jobiwan said:
Someone mentioned the climbs in Tibet/Nepal, do you mean this one??

no, but thanks.

Earlier I mentioned Pikastan:mad:, I meant in India, home of -the
Tanglang La (5360 m),
Khardung La (5359 m, 1 meter less!),
Chang La (5383 m)
Marsimik La (5590 m), claimed to be rideable by bike although not asphalted

In Tibet
Semo La (5565 m), cyclable
Lo La (5578 m), also cyclable.
Po Bu La (5767 m)
Sha Ra La (5751 m)

Any first hand report on these anybody?

If not, I keep the trophy for 1st hand report on highest rideable summit with 5240m and Chacaltaya.
I think this post belongs in here, so I've c+ped it:

Fuxior said:
uh, Szrenica is like that:


looks amazing, but last 4 km its cobblestone pavement, and if they could race on that thing, Śnieżka would be much better:


some pics of both:

The Tour de Pologne could be so much better than it is.

There are a couple of really good mountain passes on the borderlands, but most of the stations at the top are on Czech territory, sadly.
Now this one is probably never to be used for racing, but for a completely different reason than most already mentioned.

Mount Hermon Ski Station, Israel (27,2km, 5,6%):

At close to 1700m, we are talking the highest paved road in Israel - but even that is a controversial statement since the Golan Heights are of course disputed.

Either way, it's a barren world up there, and climbing for so long in such heat is a punishing, punishing way to go:

Luckily, because of the altitude, it won't be as hot as most of the region, and is one of the few places you can find snow:

This is actually a pass, but in the unlikely event of being used for a race it would almost certainly have to be used as a mountaintop finish - the descent road actually crosses the border into Lebanon at one point!
craig1985 said:
Are there any races of note in Israel?

Not really. They have the national champs, and that's about it.
The VC Israel participated in this year's Cinturón a Mallorca; best stage result: A 53rd place in the sprint stage 4, in the same time as the winner. Best overall result: 73rd, 23'49" down.
Mar 26, 2009
Fus087 said:
Not really. They have the national champs, and that's about it.
The VC Israel participated in this year's Cinturón a Mallorca; best stage result: A 53rd place in the sprint stage 4, in the same time as the winner. Best overall result: 73rd, 23'49" down.

By what I knows there's quiet some races going on in Israel (not UCI).
Aug 11, 2009
Latigo Canyon in Malibu, CA is always a fun one. Pretty light on traffic, very close to a major city (LA), and so incredibly winding that you never feel stuck on an endless stretch up the climb and the descent is simply awesome fun. Views of the Pacific Ocean pretty much the entire way.




craig1985 said:
Are there any races of note in Israel?

Not at the UCI level. Israel doesn't really get the opportunity to compete with its neighbours for obvious reasons, and the various countries in the region having various rules about letting people into the country with their passport stamped in one of the other countries makes it a real risky choice.

You could hold a really good race though. You could have a really good stage finishing in Haifa with some loops up and down Mount Carmel, an easier MTF at Beit Jan as I mentioned earlier in the thread (about 11km @ 6,2%), certainly more likely if you're putting it either at the start or the end of the season, which is probably the most likely time to put it, but yes, Mount Hermon would make for the big focal point of the race if it were ever to be included, with 27km of climbing like that. You could also climb Mount Tabor in theory, which is short but pretty steep, but the Church of the Transfiguration is much less likely to be willing to host of a stage than a small town or ski station. A stage finishing in Ein Gedi could be interesting too - a short and steep final kilometre (averaging 9%), starting at -400m!

But all of that is not likely to ever become anything more than a pipe dream at anything like the top level, so we should probably forget about it.
Shymbulak Ski Station, Kazakhstan (20,5km, 6,5%)

Starting actually in the former capital of Almaty, this site was brought to my attention during the Asian Winter Games (though admittedly I don't follow Alpine skiing or really care about it too much). But the site of a high mountain ski station so close to a major city has got to be considered an interesting prospect for a bike race - and you'd think Kazakhstan has now contributed enough to the sport to merit it. And of course, having such a major climb so close to a major population centre could be key in producing top level cyclists!

Here you have the erstwhile Apple City with the Tian Shan mountains in the background:

On the way up you will pass one of the local landmarks, the Medeo stadium, home of the local (and very successful) bandy team, and site of many events during the Winter Games:

The Shymbulak ski resort is at 2230m, roughly, though it does head uphill within the resort itself (the profile in the link above goes to 2252). The road actually continues on and is paved to some 2800m, but the condition becomes very poor and there isn't very much in the way of proper places to finish a race, whereas the resort makes a good spot:

And of course, when you get to the top, the beauty of such a clear location is that you can just turn around and look back down on Almaty: