Metres Climbed: 230
Avg Gradient: 10.8%
Road Surface: Average
Traffic: Almost None
I used to go to primary school the next village over from Cherryville, and we used to make jokes about the place. They took a little bit of Tasmania and stuck it in the Adelaide Hills, there’s one road into Cherryville, but no roads out. That sort of thing. In these jokes was a little bit of truth, but when you’re talking about cycling, this makes for something fantastic. Fernhurst Road is, of course, the one road into Cherryville, and if you’re not feeling good, it probably isn’t a way out. As you go down into the valley, the road gets windier, and narrower, and the whole way down it’s shockingly steep. Then, at the bottom, the road ends at a sign saying Private Property, no Entry. So the only choice is to turn around and climb back out.
The thing about Fernhurst is that it’s relentless. After the first hundred metres or so, you go straight into about 500m of roughly 13%. Then, you get a brief rest at about 7% for a couple of hundred metres, before jumping back up to 12% for the next 800m as you go around the sharpest switchback.
You’ll go around another corner, with lots of signs saying ‘go slowly, dust problems’ or something, and the road levels out a bit – back down to 5%, before settling briefly at 10%. Here you’ll pass Old Road, on your left. If you’re feeling wasted, and your bike can handle the dirt, this provides a bail-out option, but seeing as you’re 2/3 of the way up the hill now, my advice is push on through.
Of course, you’ll still have to climb up the steepest section in the whole climb – about 300m at an average of 14%. The steepest gradient you’ll hit here is just over 16%, and that’s the hardest part of the climb. After that, it finally settles back down to almost flat, and you’ll have reached the top of the hill.
Turn right to descend Montacute Road, or left to head towards Ashton, Norton Summit, and Mt Lofty. Whilst this may not be the steepest climb in town, and there are brief sections about which are much harder, they’re all far shorter. The way this climb just stays steep for the whole two kilometres means that it’s one of the most challenging climbs in the hills. That said, it’s also one of the most satisfying!