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Top 10 U.S. Hillclimb Challenges for 2018

The U.S. has some of the most beautiful, iconic climbs in the world. Make sure you add one of these hill-climb challenges to your Bucket List!

Great road cyclists love a challenge and know how to suffer. Climbing high mountain passes is both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. There’s a magical allure - a thing that is hard to accomplish, deal with, or understand?

Climbs that are hard to endure make us stronger and there is no better feeling than getting to the top of a difficult climb. Cyclists immerse themselves in nature, appreciating the beautiful scenery that surrounds them at every turn, the magic and beauty of the landscape. There's no better way of feeling alive and free.

So make sure you add at least one of these events to your Bucket List this year!

Date Event Location Routes Diff  Type My Rides
May 11 Mt. Lemmon Hill Climb Tucson, Arizona, USA 60 miles F HILLCLIMB
May 14 The Assaults on Mt. Mitchell and Marion Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA 72.4, 102.7 miles E GRANFONDO
Jun 01 Whiteface Mountain Hillclimb Wilmington, New York, USA 11 miles, 8%, 3,522 feet E HILLCLIMB
Jun 03 Guanella Pass Hill Climb Gran Fondo Georgetown, Colorado, USA 11 miles C GRANFONDO
Jul 21 Bob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hill Climb Idaho Springs, Colorado, USA 27 miles D GRANFONDO
Aug 11 Hotter N Hell Hillclimb at Mt. Baldy Upland, California, USA 12 miles C HILLCLIMB
Aug 11 Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Climb Gran Fondo Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA 12.42 miles D GRANFONDO
Aug 18 - Aug 19 Mt. Washington Auto Road Hillclimb Gorham, New Hampshire, USA 7.6 miles, 12%, 4,720 feet F HILLCLIMB
Oct 07 Save Mount Diablo Challenge Danville, California, USA 11.2 miles F HILLCLIMB
Oct 26 Hillclimb World Championships Santa Barbara, California, USA 13 miles F HILLCLIMB
 

1. The Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb

6,630 feet, 27.4 miles - Idaho Springs, Colorado, July 21, 2018

This year is the 53rd anniversary of the epic race that everyone should do at least once. It’s also part of the 2018 Colorado Summit Series

Riding from the base to the summit of a 14,000 feet peak is a challenging and memorable achievement. The world seems a little different at half the height of Mt. Everest. The whole Front Range of Colorado, the Continental Divide, the vast expanse of the Rockies - it’s all there.

The world seems a little different at half the height of Mt. Everest. The whole Front Range of Colorado, the Continental Divide, the vast expanse of the Rockies - it’s all there.

Bob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hill ClimbTaking place on July 21 2018, The Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb is an iconic bicycle race that takes place on the highest paved road in the United States at 14,264 feet above sea level.

It’s an epic event that creates memories for a lifetime.

The Mt. Evans Hill Climb includes professional cyclists that race / have raced in the Tour de France and other Pro races.  You will have the opportunity to race on the same course as those that have made it to the highest level of cycling. 

The race was renamed in 1981 in honor of five-time race winner Bob Cook, who died of cancer at the age of 23.  Bob Cook held the course record from 1975-1980. Over the years, some of the world’s best-known cyclists added their names to the list of challengers, including Olympic gold medallist Alexi Grewal, Jacques Boyer, Ron Kiefel and Andy Hampsten.

To get a glimpse of the climb from a cyclists perspective, you can view this "unofficial" Strava segment - http://www.thenational.ae/storyimage/AB/20151223/ARTICLE/151229586/AR/0/&NCS_modified=20151223083557&MaxW=640&MaxH=427&AR-151229586.jpg analytics.strava.com/segments/642991

The race starts in the historic mining town of Idaho Springs at an altitude of 7,540 feet and finishes at 14,130 feet, 130 feet below Mount Evans' summit.  The race is 27.4 miles in length and climbs 6,630 feet.  Echo Lake to the summit averages 5.6% for 5.5 miles, then 4.1% for 2.7 miles and finally 5.7% for 4.25 miles to the top. Maximum grade is 10%. There are 11 switchbacks that take you to an unforgettable view of the Rocky Mountains and an achievement of a lifetime.  
 

Mount Evans Course Profile, Idaho Springs
 

This epic race is has been named one of “The Best and Hardest Climbs in the US”.  

Over the years, the race has attracted well-known professional riders from all over the United States and from France, Switzerland, Germany, and Australia. The age range of the participants is from nine to eighty-five years. Volunteers from the Colorado cycling community, including Team Evergreen Cycling, and Racer X Cycling, help marshal, drive support, work the feed zone and the award celebration.

The event includes categories for all levels of racing and encourages riders of all abilities. The Gran Fondo is open to any amateur cyclist. Around one thousand riders compete each year in the race and Gran Fondo categories. The event offers mechanical support, a feed zone and transportation of clothing bags to the summit for the trip down the mountain.  There is an award celebration in Idaho Springs for all participants and spectators.

Think about it – when else will you have the opportunity to climb a 14’er and have full support? And there is a rocking party at the bottom to celebrate!

Part of the Colorado Summit Series

This series provides cyclists an un-paralleled opportunity to challenge themselves in three successive races up some of the toughest climbs in the world – Guanella, Mt Evans and Pikes Peak. Those that complete all events receive a complimentary jersey and awards for those with the fastest time in the series.

Register for all three events in the inaugural Colorado Summit Series and receive a complimentary Colorado Summit Series cycling jersey from Primal.

The 2018 the Colorado Summit Series

What is the difference between the Gran Fondo and USA Cycling Categories?

USA Categories are for individuals interested in competitive racing and do it on a regular basis or are planning to race on a regular basis. A USAC license or 1-Day license is required for USAC categories. A BRAC membership is also required for all USAC Categories. 

Gran Fondo is an open event and is also timed, no license or membership is required. 

Registration is online, pre-registration only, no day of registration. 

Categories are limited and they sell out very quickly, so register early!

The 53rd Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb, July 21st, Idaho Springs, CO

 

2. Hillclimb World Championships

2,593 ft, 6.1 miles - Santa Barbara, California, October 26, 2018

Reigning National Hillclimb Champions Phil Gaimon & Margot Clyne will try to defend their stars and stripes jerseys, and compete for global supremacy on Gibraltar road.

World & American champions crowned for pros & age groups, while riders of all levels can test themselves on a climb made famous by the Amgen Tour of California. known as the American Riviera, Santa Barbara offers a gorgeous backdrop for a world-class event.

Hillclimb Worlds kicks off a full weekend of great riding in socal: suffer uphill Friday Oct 26 in Santa Barbara, and then enjoy yourself at Phil's Cookie Fondo Saturday and Sunday Oct 27-28 in Malibu.

Trek-Segafredo rider Peter Stetina holds the current KOM on the 6.1 mile climb of Gibraltar Road, set on Stage 3 of the 2016 AMGEN Tour of California, a time of 28m 9s.

Phil Gaimon famously set a time of 29 minutes dead in Season 1, Episode 5 of the "Worst Retirement Ever". 

You can find the official Strava segment here: http://www.thenational.ae/storyimage/AB/20151223/ARTICLE/151229586/AR/0/&NCS_modified=20151223083557&MaxW=640&MaxH=427&AR-151229586.jpg https://www.strava.com/segments/658277

For more information, please visit: https://www.hillclimbworlds.com

Hillclimb World Championships 2,593 ft, 6.1 miles - Santa Barbara, California, October 26, 2018

Gibraltar Road Climb Data

 

3. The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb

4,725 feet, 12.4 miles - Colorado Springs, Colorado, August 11, 2018

The mountain is named in honor of American explorer Zebulon Pike and is a designated National Historic Landmark.

The Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb is one of the ultimate tests for cyclists as who compete on the same 20km legendary course that the automobiles and motorcycles use in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb every summer.

At an elevation of 14,115 feet (4,302m), Pikes Peak, is one of Colorado's 54 fourteeners, mountains that rise more than 14,000 feet (4,267 m) above sea level.

There is a race and a non-competitive timed Gran Fondo that give cyclists of all abilities a truly unique experience on Pikes Peak - America's Mountain.

The offical strava segment can be found here: http://www.thenational.ae/storyimage/AB/20151223/ARTICLE/151229586/AR/0/&NCS_modified=20151223083557&MaxW=640&MaxH=427&AR-151229586.jpg strava.com/routes/291364

Part of the Colorado Summit Series

This series provides cyclists an un-paralleled opportunity to challenge themselves in three successive races up some of the toughest climbs in the world – Guanella, Mt Evans and Pikes Peak. Those that complete all events receive a complimentary jersey and awards for those with the fastest time in the series.

Register for all three events in the inaugural Colorado Summit Series and receive a complimentary Colorado Summit Series cycling jersey from Primal.

The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb 4,725 feet, 12.4 miles - Colorado Springs, Colorado, August 11

 
 

4. Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb 

4,683 feet, 7.6 miles - Gorham, New Hampshire, August 18–19, 2018

Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the north eastern U.S and is known to be one of the toughest hill climbs in the world. It’s not the longest, but is one of the steepest – an intense effort is required just to keep moving.

Mt. Washington is the U.S’s equivalent of the legendary Italian climb of the Passo di Mortirolo, one of toughest and most feared climbs in the world, regularly used in the Giro d’Italia that brings a lump in throat to the most seasoned professional riders.

At 7.6 miles in length, it has an average grade of 12% with extended sections of 18% and the last 50 yards is 22%.

Every year, over 600 cyclists take on the challenge of the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb also known as Climb to the Clouds which raises funds for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center located in Albany, which promotes appreciation of the environment and dates back to 1973. It’s also one of the oldest automobile hill climbs in the country, first run on July 11th, 1904. 2017 is the 44th edition of the cycle climb.

You cna find the official Strava segment here: http://www.thenational.ae/storyimage/AB/20151223/ARTICLE/151229586/AR/0/&NCS_modified=20151223083557&MaxW=640&MaxH=427&AR-151229586.jpg strava.com/activities/75448173

Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb  4,683 feet, 7.6 miles - Gorham, New Hampshire, August 18–19, 2018

 

5. The Assault on Mount Mitchell

5,161 feet, 24.1 miles - Spartanburg, South Carolina, May 14, 2018

Mount Mitchell has one of the greatest elevation gains of any climb in the United States, and the climbing styles are very diverse. The first section (Route 80) starts out shallow but gradually gets steeper as you ride. Its top portion contains a series of 180-degree switchbacks as it nears the Blue Ridge Parkway. After several tunnels and a descent, the climb resumes on Mount Mitchell State Park Road, which is a bit steeper than earlier climbing. After several tunnels and a descent, the climb resumes on Mount Mitchell State Park Road, which is a bit steeper than earlier climbing. 

The dead-end road is the highest road in the eastern US. It’s 24.1 miles with 5,161 feet of climbing with an average gradient of 3.6%.

This event isn’t just a hill climb it’s a full Century ride finishing with the climb up Mount Mitchell. The Assault on Mt. Mitchell is a 103 miles from Spartanburg, South Carolina, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, to the summit at Mt. Mitchell State a total vertical ascent of more than 10,000 feet. 

The Assaults on Mount Mitchel and Mount Marion is considered to be the Southeast's Premier cycling experience.

Riders are well looked after with 10 rest stops along the way, you will be able to refill, refuel, and make mechanical adjustments as needed.

The Assault on Mt. Mitchell began in 1975 and the annual event has become one of the best known centuries in the country and is the South East's premier cycling event. Upon finishing, riders will have access to food and beverage and changing stations. Buses will transport riders off the Mountain to enjoy post-ride festivities.

You can find the official Strava segment here: http://www.thenational.ae/storyimage/AB/20151223/ARTICLE/151229586/AR/0/&NCS_modified=20151223083557&MaxW=640&MaxH=427&AR-151229586.jpg strava.com/segments/695873

The Assault on Mount Mitchell 5,161 feet, 24.1 miles - Spartanburg, South Carolina, May 14, 2018

 

6. Mount Lemmon Hill Climb

6,600 feet, 21 miles - Tucson, Arizona, May 4, 2018

Mount Lemmon is one of the nicest climbs in the southwest of the U.S. It's a long, steady climb with near perfect tarmac - a real hill climber’s paradise. Mt. Lemmon is a rare jewel in the Arizona desert. Jutting up 9,157 feet (2,791 meters) above sea level in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona, this magnificent mountain peak stands amidst the pale backdrop of the sparse desert sand and cactus. Not far from Tucson - a haven for Professional teams in the warm winter climate.

Mount Lemmon received its English name in honor of botanist Sarah Plummer Lemmon, who trekked to the top of the mountain with Native American guides by mule and foot in 1881. Sara Lemmon is also known for getting the Golden Poppy adopted as the California State Flower in 1903.

Hardly anywhere else in the US can you climb so high for so many miles in succession. Mount Lemmon is in the top 25% of toughest hill climbs in America - with a rating of HC "hors category" on the scale used to rank climbs in European stage races, like the Tour de France.

Mount Lemmon is right up there with the famous passes in the Alpes, Dolomites and Pyrenees. 

In comparison, the Colle dell'Agnello (Italian) or Col d'Agnel (French), used in last years Giro d'Italia, is situated in Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region on the French / Italian border and belongs to the Alpes range of mountains. Starting from french town of Guillestre, the Col d'Agnel ascent is 26 miles. Over this distance, you climb 1,736m. The average percentage is 4.5 % and this climb has been used twice in the Tour De France and Giro d'Italia. Very similar to Mount Lemmon in distance, difficulty and height - although the Italian side is much harder.

Mount Lemmon grade averages 4.5% for 6,600 feet (2012m) of elevation gain over 27.5 miles from base to the top. The temperature on the way up to Mt Lemmon is 20 to 30 degrees colder than the Tucson area. Weather can also change quickly. Check the weather day before the ride to know the conditions and bring appropriate clothing to keep yourself warm, like armwarmers and a gillet.

The almost continuous 26-mile descent down is exciting without ever being terrifying, so the total round trip of 56 miles.

The Mount Lemmon Hill Climb is organized by the Greater Arizona Bicycling Association. An early start is required!

You can find the Strava segment here: http://www.thenational.ae/storyimage/AB/20151223/ARTICLE/151229586/AR/0/&NCS_modified=20151223083557&MaxW=640&MaxH=427&AR-151229586.jpg http://www.strava.com/segments/5275818

Mount Lemmon Hill Climb 6,600 feet, 21 miles - Tucson, Arizona, May 4, 2018

 

7. Mount Diablo Challenge

3,249 feet, 11.2 miles - Danville, California, October 7, 2018

The Mount Diablo Challenge is a family-friendly 11.2 mile timed bike ride, starting at Athenian School in Danville and climbing up Southgate Road 3,249 feet to the summit of Mount Diablo.

This year there are prizes, first place Men's prize is a Specialized Comp Bike!

First Place Women's prize is a Giant/Liv Langma Advanced 1 Bike!

Medals will be awarded for 34 categories, including 15 age groups for men and women, fastest overall man and woman, oldest, and youngest riders. Prizes should hopefully be awarded by Sponsors too.

Thet are planning a BIG venue with beer, wine and food. Turnaround time at the top will be quicker, so that riders can enjoy the party! If you are a competitive rider, or just a weekender who wants to challenge yourself, this is the ride for you!!

Prizes fueled by Hammer Nutrition: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place categories in 15 age categories.

Special prizes for fastest man and woman wearing full Hammer Nutrition kit!

Benefits Save Mount Diablo

Since Save Mount Diablo’s founding in 1971, preserved open space has increased from less than 7,000 acres to over 10,000 acres in ore than 40 parks. Mount Diablo is still threatened by development. That could mean the loss of wildlife corridors, ecosystems and recreational opportunities. Your support will preserve these natural lands forever to safeguard our quality of life, including the quality of our air, water and views.

You can find the Strava segment here: http://www.thenational.ae/storyimage/AB/20151223/ARTICLE/151229586/AR/0/&NCS_modified=20151223083557&MaxW=640&MaxH=427&AR-151229586.jpg https://www.strava.com/segments/830562

Mount Diablo Challenge 3,249 feet, 11.2 miles - Danville, California, October 7, 2018

 

8. Hotter N Hell Hillclimb at Mt. Baldy

4,855 feet, 12 miles, Upland, California, August 11, 2018

Cyclists from far and wide visit Mt. Baldy to climb the challenging switchbacks, which ascends over 2,000 feet in only 4.3 miles, up to the Mt. Baldy Ski Area at 6,500 feet abover sea level. The climb has been used many times as a mountain finish in the AMGEN Tour of California.

Starts in Upland and finishes at the Mt Baldy ski lift parking lots. Registration opens at 7:45 AM. Individual time trial with riders starting at 30 second intervals at 9:00am. No pack riding, no drafting.

Portions of the climb are 15% and be prepared for the August heat. The organizers will take a labelled bag with clothes to the top for you. 

Polka Dot climber's jersey for each category winner for the fastest times provided by PCAP Prostate Cancer Awareness. There will also be some prizes for 2nd placed category finishers too.

Here is a link to the official Strava segement: http://www.thenational.ae/storyimage/AB/20151223/ARTICLE/151229586/AR/0/&NCS_modified=20151223083557&MaxW=640&MaxH=427&AR-151229586.jpg strava.com/segments/10239038

Hotter N Hell Hillclimb at Mt. Baldy 4,855 feet, 12 miles, Upland, California, August 11, 2018

 

9. Whiteface Mountain Uphill Bike Race

3,539 feet, 8 miles - Wilmington, New York, June 1, 2018

Located in the Adirondacks of up-state New York, this climb is almost identical in length and grade to l’Alpe d’Huez, considered one of the most difficult climbs of the Tour de France.

Whiteface has been open to bikes during regular hours for many years now. They charge $8 for bicycles so you can train on the climb too.

Plan an hour and a half to tackle it (though the record stands at 43 minutes). The grade is sturdy right from the start, so a warm up is probably a good idea. After three miles and a toll booth, the grade averages ten percent for three miles. Closer to the summit, the slope finally eases, the trees clear, and views begin to appear. A few large and graceful turns lead you higher on the mountain over moderate grade.

The climb ends where the road dead-ends at the upper end of the parking lot, from where you can hike or take an elevator to the very top of the mountain.  The visitor’s center is in Whiteface Castle, at the peak’s crest, where you can see all the way to Vermont and Canada on clear days.

The race is 11 miles, though it starts at the ski mountain with 3 miles of flat-downhill to the base of the climb. It's an average of 8% with 3,539 feet of climbing.

Fruit, snacks and beverages are served in the Whiteface Mountain Hill Climb at the Finish Line and Post Race Meal is served after the race which is included in the entry fee.

You can find the Srava segment here: http://www.thenational.ae/storyimage/AB/20151223/ARTICLE/151229586/AR/0/&NCS_modified=20151223083557&MaxW=640&MaxH=427&AR-151229586.jpg strava.com/segments/667415

Whiteface Mountain Uphill Bike Race 3,539 feet, 11 miles - Wilmington, New York, June 1, 2018

 
 

10. Guanella Pass Hill Climb

3,050 feet, 11 miles - Georgetown, Colorado, June 3, 2018

The Guanella Pass Hill Climb is one of the most scenic routes in all of Colorado.  Riders will leave historic downtown Georgetown and traverse 3,050 ft in just over 11 miles on freshly paved roads.  The course winds and twists along with some steeper sections near the finish to make that last surge all the more rewarding. 

Once again the course will be fully closed to traffic!

11 mile course with 3,050 ft of elevation gain.  Course starts in downtown Georgetown and will finish at the top of the pass.

Registration is open to Adults, Junors 15-18 and Juniors 12-14 online in advance.

Entry includes chip timing.

You can find the official Strava segment here: http://www.thenational.ae/storyimage/AB/20151223/ARTICLE/151229586/AR/0/&NCS_modified=20151223083557&MaxW=640&MaxH=427&AR-151229586.jpg strava.com/activities/11055245

Part of the Colorado Summit Series

This series provides cyclists an un-paralleled opportunity to challenge themselves in three successive races up some of the toughest climbs in the world – Guanella, Mt Evans and Pikes Peak. Those that complete all events receive a complimentary jersey and awards for those with the fastest time in the series.

Register for all three events in the inaugural Colorado Summit Series and receive a complimentary Colorado Summit Series cycling jersey from Primal.

Guanella Pass  3,50 feet, 11 miles - Georgetown, Colorado, June 3, 2018

 

More Hill-Climb Challenges

We hope you enjoyed our list of top Hill-Climbs in the U.S.A. for 2018.

For details of  more Hillclimbs across the United States , please visit our growing 2018 North American Hillclimb Calendar.

For details of thouands of Century, Double Century, Ultra, Gravel Grinders, Charity and Leisure Rides, Cycling Tours and Cycling Festivals, please visit the links below.

2018 North American Gran Fondo
2018 North American Gravel Grinders
2018 North American Century Rides Calendar
2018 North American Cycle Festivals, Leisure Rides and Cycle Tours Calendar

Look out for more of our guides and training articles soon. Spring is here, time to get out there and ride, stay safe!

If you have any feedback, please let us know at: marketing@granfondoguide.com