Metres Climbed: 158
Avg Gradient: 5.6%
Road Quality: Good bitumen for the first half, then pretty rough/corrugated dirt for the second part
Traffic: Very Low, particularly on the dirt section. You might see a car on the bottom half, but probably not.
I’ve been riding a fair bit of dirt lately, there’s something about skitting about on thin tires that is really fun. Anyway, my latest offering is Sprigg Road, which connects Piccadilly Road and Mt Lofty Summit Road. This is a pretty easy climb, and also pretty beautiful. There are a couple of pinches over 10%, but mostly the road undulates it’s way up the side of the hill. Turn onto Sprigg Road from Piccadilly Road, and then start the climb when you reach the intersection with Lampert Road.
From here, the first half of the climb is pretty straightforwards. You’ll find yourself riding through perfectly manicured hobby-farms and vineyards, before entering into a eucalyptus forest. As you pass Ross Road to your right, you’ll go up a pretty steep section for 2-300m, hitting around 14%. After that it flattens out again, until you near the intersection with Gores Road.
From here, the road turns to dirt, and the average gradient becomes steeper. Whilst still undulating, the average is more like 7-8%, which coupled with the dirt can pose a challenge. I suggest turning over a slightly bigger gear than your normally would, and staying seated. This way you’ll maintain the maximum amount of traction. Sitting down is more important than a big gear, so change down before you stand up. There are some corrugations on the road around the inside of most of the corners, which you can either avoid or ride straight over. The climb finishes when you intersect with Mt Lofty Summit Road
From here you can turn left to go on up to the summit, or right to head towards the top of Greenhill Road.
Metres Climbed: 88
Avg Gradient: 4.3%
Road Quality: Average
Traffic: Light, often fairly fast
Not a mighty hill in it’s own right, Range road is one of a number of connectors from Lobethal Road to Greenhill Road. It’s also a fantastic option if you’ve just climbed up Little Italy, to combine into one longer, more challenging climb. There is a significant downhill segment near the end of the climb, so the average gradient is a little misleading. It’s probably closer to 6%. Start at Lobethal Road, at the five way intersection in Basket Range. Range road is easy to find – it’s the one that ramps up steeply.
This doesn’t really set the scene for the climb though. Once you get round the corner, it levels out pretty quickly back to 6%. After a couple of hundred metres there’s a dip, which very briefly goes downwards, and then you’re back to about 6% until you reach the Cricket Oval. You’re pretty exposed for the middle part of the climb, but the payoff is that you get great views over Ashton and Mt Lofty to the right, and Basket Range to the left. As you pass the oval, you’ll have a pretty easy 4% for a while, before a short ramp at about 8-9%. Then, you go downhill quite quickly, and you can see the final wall ahead of you.
Keep up as much speed as you can get from the downhill, because this last section is steep. As you go round the corner, you’ll hit 20%, and if you don’t have any momentum left, you’ll feel it. That said, it’s pretty short, and then the last couple of hundred metres are pretty relaxed. The climb ends at the intersection with Basket Range road.
You’d think they could have been more creative in street naming, huh. Going left will take you back down to Lobethal Road, Right to Greenhill Road in Uraidla, and straight on to Greenhill Road without going down the hill. Left then right will take you to Nicholls Road, which is a rather nasty short climb, so that’s an option too.
Metres Climbed: 118
Avg Gradient: 2.5%
Road Quality: Excellent, then Mediocre
This Climb is very similar to Waterfall Gully https://adelaidehillclimbs.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/waterfall-gully/ and Aldgate Valley Road https://adelaidehillclimbs.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/aldgate-valley-road/ in that whilst it’s not very steep, you need to work hard if you want to go fast, and it’s very scenic. The climb can be divided into two parts – the first part has a near-mint condition road, and is an absolute breeze to ride on. The second part, the final kilometre and a half, is pretty rough and bumpy, and is like climbing along a narrow laneway.
To start, turn off Old Belair Rd, onto High Street, and then immediately onto Brownhill Creek Road
Unfortunately, the streetview cars didn’t go up the road, being a dead end, but here’s the start of the climb. The first three kilometres are fantastically smooth, slightly uphill, with a couple of dips, and a couple of slightly steeper parts. For all of this, the average is about 2%, and it never really gets difficult.
Once you pass the turn off to Tilleys Hill Road the second part of the climb begins. This is a little bit more difficult – averaging about 3%, and the road is far rougher.
After a while you’ll pass a couple of signs saying ‘last turnaround spot’ and ‘local traffic only’. Keep on going, the road narrows a little, and basically becomes a single lane. You’ll finish the climb at a dead end, with a turnaround space. I suppose the sign earlier was lying. The only option here is to turn around and go back down the hill, but I suggest you turn onto Tilleys Hill Road on the way back, for a far more challenging climb.
Metres Climbed: 233
Avg Gradient: 9.8%
Road Quality: Good
This is a really tough climb. I’ve been avoiding it for a while, instead opting to do the easier Knox Terrace (https://adelaidehillclimbs.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/knox-terrace-coach-road-linked-climb/) but the other day I was feeling good, and I smashed out some difficult hills. Coach Road starts at the top of the Parade – after passing Penfolds Road, turn right onto Coach. There is rarely any traffic to deal with, as it’s a dead-end up a steep hill.
The first 300m or so average about 12%, until you go around the first corner. From there you’ll have a brief respite (about 5%), before the road kicks up into the first long, difficult section. For about 900m you climb at a pretty consistent 15% or so, with a couple of steeper kicks up to 17%, and for this part you really just need to grind it out.
Eventually you’ll reach a right hand turn, and finally get a bit of a rest. The climb’s not finished, in fact the hardest part is still to come, but for about 250m the road is pretty well flat, and even dips down a little. Use this as a chance to enjoy the view, and let your legs recover a little, because up next is pretty much a wall.
Once you pass McBeath on the right, you’ve got 250m at an average of 19%. Yep. 19%. It peaks pretty early, at about 24%%, and once you hit the top, you’ve almost finished the climb. The road goes on around the bend to the left, you go down a little, and then there’s a tiny little bit of climbing to the finish.
Apparently it’s possible to keep going through and link up near the top of Greenhill Road if you have a cyclocross or mountain bike, but I don’t, so I took a few minutes to recover my breath and let the heart drop to a reasonable rate, and enjoy the views from the top of the hill.
There aren’t a lot of options from here on out. The only way to go with a road bike is down. I hit 93km/h. It was terrifying. If you don’t want to deal with such a steep descent, turn left onto McBeath and right down Knox for a slightly windier, more technical descent.
Metres Climbed: 181
Avg Gradient: 8.9%
Road Quality: Mediocre
The Less popular cousin of New Belair Road https://adelaidehillclimbs.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/new-belair-road/ Old Belair Road is both steeper, and more heavily trafficked. In fact, the traffic on this one can often make it quite unpleasant, and I’d suggest you only bother with it early in the morning, or on weekends.
For all of that, this is an incredibly satisfying climb, in the same group as Mt Osmond or Pound Road. You’re quite protected from the prevailing winds, with hills all around. In fact the only wind you’ll get is a tailwind, and that if there’s a raging northerly. Start timing once you’re through the roundabout intersecting Blythewood Road
The first kilometre is really steady at about 9%. The road surface is fairly rough though, so it’s quite draining. Eventually the road will start to flatten out, and to your left you’ll see James Road. This is your one chance to catch your breath, and James Road is a worthy finish to the climb as well, particularly if you intend to go and tackle Sheoak Road afterwards.
But this time keep going past James Road, and the gradient ramps into the first of two steep sections. This one is just 100m at about 12%, as you go through the first switchback. It then levels off briefly through the second corner, before ramping up again for the rest of the climb. There are about 250m to go at 12-13% before you’re finished climbing at the intersection with Sheoak Road.
Luckily, you have right of way, and if you continue on to the right you’ll link up to New Belair, and from there you’ve got hundreds of options. As I alluded to, a better option might be to turn left, and go up Sheoak Road, or through Belair National Park. Both of these provide plenty of steep and interesting climbing.
Metres Climbed: 169
Avg Gradient: 10.5%
Road Surface: Good
This is probably the most difficult climb in Adelaide. The only climbs that come close are Woodland Way https://adelaidehillclimbs.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/coach-house-drivewoodland-way/ , Sheoak Road, and Coach Road (soon to be added). Down near Victor Harbor, this climb is hard to get to, and harder to ride. I did it as a part of a two-day trip down to Victor and Back, and we started our return journey at the base of Mt Alma. To reach it, take Inman Valley Road from Victor Harbor, and turn right onto Mt Alma Road. Quiver in fear at the signs reading “Not Suitable for trucks/busses” The Google Streetview Car didn’t go up this road, and I can only assume this was because the driver saw the sign and was too terrified to try.
Before the proper climb, Mt Alma Rd gives you an excellent warm up effort in the form of 1.7km at 6.6%. Normally I’d write up a post for a climb that worthy, but compared to what you’re going to face after, you’ll have to make do with the strava segment: http://app.strava.com/segments/744556
Having covered the warm up, you have a couple of km of flat roads to prepare for the climb. You’ll be able to see the road rise up on the hill ahead of you, as it runs along the top of a ridge. The Climb starts at a bunch of signs saying things like “steep” and “17%”.
The first part is the hardest. You’ve got about 700m at around 18%. The smallest gradient during this time is 17%, and it regularly hits 19%. If you’re foolish enough to take the inside line around the corner, you’ll be climbing at well over 22% for several hundred metres. Don’t do that.
Once you make it past this part, the road flattens out, to about 6-7% for a few hundred metres, and even briefly going flat. Then you’ve got another ramp, shorter this time. Approximately 150m at about 17%, but reaching 24% briefly. Suddenly, you’ll hit gravel, and the climb is done.
I’m the one hunched over my bike in the middle, once we reached the top of the hill.
If you’re feeling brave, you can keep going along the gravel for about 4km, which is a bit of a shortcut on the way back to Adelaide. If you’re feeling braver, you can bomb back down the hill.
Metres Climbed: 222
Avg Gradient: 7.4%
Road Surface: Good
Old Willunga Hill, famous for it’s position in the Queen Stage of the TDU each year, and a part of Amy’s Ride this climb is often somewhat overhyped, and even feared, but it’s not actually that difficult. Down south in Willunga, you’ll have to ride 50km or so from the CBD to reach the climb, but these can be done along bicycle paths, and it’s a rather pleasant ride. There’s not much traffic on the climb, because most cars take the new road, although there can be a little. The best way to think of this ride is a smaller version of Greenhill Road https://adelaidehillclimbs.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/greenhill-road/
The Climb starts on High St, as you pass St James St. There’s a pretty large gumtree on the left that signifies the start of the climb.
From here, you climb quickly out of the Willunga township, as you wind your way up the right hand side of a valley. The first part of this climb is the hardest – averaging around 8%, and reaching 9 or 10% in parts. This keeps on going for about a kilometre and a half, until the road nears Victor Harbor Road. You can see the cars racing past, and be glad they’re not trying to race past you.
From here on in, the climb is a little easier. The average settles down to about 6%, and the road becomes windier. At this point it really does resemble the middle section of Greenhill Road, albeit with a better road surface, and much dryer vegetation. Once you start seeing more graffiti on the road, you know that you’ve nearly reached the top, and it’s time to put the hammer down. The gradient gets shallower, and you’re finished when you cross the giant crown painted on the ground.
You can almost imagine that you’re racing up the hill, even if there aren’t any crowds. From the top, you can follow the road onwards, and it links to Victor Harbor Road, which is heavily trafficked and unpleasant, but can quickly turn off onto quieter roads (Such as Pages Flat Road, if you’re trying to get to Victor Harbor. Otherwise, turn left at the top to go towards Meadows, or descent back into Mclaren Vale.