For Australian Cyclists travelling and touring OS
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When most people discuss the idea of chasing cols and summits, it is France and Italy that is usually the first mentioned. I'd like to offer another suggestion - West coast USA! I had already ridden France and a few days in Italy over the preceding couple of years so was keen to try somewhere new. I got to work researching for the trip and was excited by what I saw!
Trip details - 3 weeks starting in San Francisco and traveling a large clockwise loop across to Colorado and then returning to LA via Tucson Arizona.
17 days in 21 riding 1705km, 42009m elevation gain and over 5,600km driving!
The climbs encountered were just as long, just as tough as Europe but much higher. It was a real noticeable difference riding at 4,300m versus 2802m the highest road I had hit previously in France.
California - San Francisco
Old La Honda + Pescadero Creek road +Tunitas Creek road + Kings Mountain road
Sierra rd + Mt Hamilton
Mt Diablo via North Gate am + Mt Tamalpais loop from Fairfax pm.
Eastern Sierra California
Mosquito Flat from Bishop.
White Mountain aka. Bristlecone from Big Pine.
Horseshoe Meadows + Whitney Portal.
Onion Valley Road
Grand Mesa (both sides).
Independence pass (both sides).
Trail ridge rd (both sides).
Palomar Mountain South Grade and East Grade.
Glendora Mountain road /Glendora Ridge road + Mt Baldy
The following is a photo essay to hopefully get some people here inspired to head over for some hills Stateside.
The big climbs in the Eastern Sierra south of Lake Tahoe climb out of the Owens valley. Starting in dry valley, most rides head out in a straight line up the alluvial fan before winding into the Granite peaks.
The highest paved road in CA is to Mosquito Flat at 3124m.
Lower Rock Creek road
Colorado is high! Some rides were starting at elevations higher than Kosciusko!
Outside Grand Junction - Grand Mesa - riding both sides gave 65km climbing for the day! Still quite low at 3307m.
Mt Evans - highest paved road in North America 45km @4.5% 4315m. Studies suggest ~72% sea level FTP at this elevation! Given Mt Evans is never too steep it didn't feel too bad.
Echo lake ~ half way
They close the top section of the road from Summit lake on Labor day weekend. Due to rockfall they closed the road here at Echo lake, so I had the top half all to myself other than one ranger looking for Mountain goats.
Pikes Peak 4301m has finally been sealed to the top. And after a successful trial September 2012 it is now open to bikes year round (was only open to bikes one day a year prior to this).
It would definitely be the toughest climb I did this trip. The top section where the air is thinnest the steepest km is 10.6%!
Elevation profile http://www.brentacol.com/gradient_pics/pikes.png
Awesome, thanks for sharing.
I must admit I'd never had any real interest in visiting the US, but having been there many times now for work there's a lot of ugly but also a lot of great places to see.
Back in California near San Diego - second last day I rode Palomar Mountain South Grade rd and East Grade rd.
Locals suggest South Grade is similar to Alpe d'Huez. It was perhaps in the number of hairpins - but South Grade is less steep and a far more consistent gradient. Where as Alpe d'Huez hits you with a couple of km at over 10% and undulates more which I found harder to hold tempo.
South Grade rd 18.7km at 6.9%
East Grade was far mellower -17.7km at 4.5%
Glendora Mountain road - Glendora Ridge road to Mt Baldy village - Mt Baldy ski lifts
When researching the trip. this loop appeared to be a stand out of the climbs around LA. Beautiful scenery right on the edge of suburbia on roads with next to no traffic!
Looking back down the last steep section to the ski lifts.
The States wouldn't be my first choice, but as I'd enjoyed a month in the French Alps 2011 plus a couple of days Northern Italy 2012 so was keen to go somewhere else. Flights were cheaper than to Europe and when I started planning the AUD was above parity against the USD...
In the end I was happy with my decision. The climbs were as good as any I have ridden in Europe. Road surface often no so good but the locations made up for it. Barely scratched the surface too! Around Boulder CO, the LA foothills, Santa Monica Mountains, Santa Barbara are a few areas I didn't get to. Main aim of the trip though was to hit the longer and especially higher climbs.
The biggest challenge in the end was the amount of driving. If I knew I was definitely returning (so many other places in the world I still haven't been) I probably would have kept to the Rocky Mountains or California and explored each area further. But there are so many wonderful places in the world still to visit!
If people have any questions, post them up! Happy to discuss logistics, climbs to hit etc...
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