You would think after Day One of my Most Essential Climbs reveal would start in controversy and you’re right.
Does it have to do with specific rankings or glaring omissions?
No. I’m perfect. Everyone is taking this list as gospel as it should.
My larger problem is finding all the great pics that I’ve taken from these next set of climbs.
Some of you may remember my mention of losing my camera a couple of months ago, but I’m not really feeling the impact until now when I realized the next set of of list inductees had my pictures left on that memory card.
Shouldn’t I have downloaded? Sigh.
Still, this list moves on without stealing any photos off of anyone else.
If you need a reminder, here are yesterday’s entries:
Let’s move on beyond my griping and get onto #7 through #4:
7. Piuma / Schueren
It’s a tough climb, but usually one where you find your rhythm and if you do, you’ll get rewarded at the top.
The Piuma section keeps a nice steady pitch around 6% – 8% from Cold Canyon as you meander your way up the mountain.
As you climb, you get a better picture of the Santa Monica Mountains while the real payoff is near the top when you start to get views of the ocean.
One of the welcoming parts of this climb is that the remaining climbing distance is spray painted on the ground.
Reaching the peak is nice, but your job isn’t complete until you make the turn up Schueren to make the climb complete.
Reach the top and you have a great view of the Santa Monicas, that is, if you go another 100 feet.
This 1.7 mile section is a bit cliff hangy to start, but goes by quickly.
The reward is at the top where Tuna and Stunt converge giving one of the best views of the slanted rockscape around.
6. Nichols Canyon
Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, Nichols Canyon has the feel of a countryside climb in the middle of an urban setting.
There may be cars passing by cutting through to the valley, but all things considered, you still get segments of solitude during the climb.
Only 2.9 miles, Nichols averages only 4.5%, but offers a series of challenges along the way.
The middle of the climb which has little signs of the Hollywood Hills
It is also the start of when things get serious for the popular La Grange Sunday Nichols Ride.
Nichols is punchy at the start, but slowly relents as you ascend.
As you start to weave up the hill, the ride becomes more pastoral and if you’ve paced yourself properly, you’ll find yourself taking things up a notch.
Not even Jon Snow has conquered this Wall.
Keeping up a nice pace, you even get a necessary reprieve near the top as you turn onto Woodrow Wilson Drive up to what is known affectionately as “The Wall”.
It’s only a tenth of a mile, but the top is initially occluded meaning a lot of people empty their tank before they remember there’s more to go.
If you’re doing the Sunday Ride, it’s absolutely critical to handle this section correctly or you’ll feel hung out to dry on Mulholland.
5. Glendora Mountain Road
Affectionately referred to as GMR, Glendora Mountain Road is one of those climbs that provides a lot of bang for the buck.
Starting off of Sierra Madre Ave., the 5%- 6% pitch over the first nine miles is deceiving as it feels much steeper than that. Part of the deception comes from choosing your line up the switchbacks.
Many also know this section as being part the time trial for first stage of the San Dimas Stage Race, playing a major factor on who will win the GC.
Passing Horse Canyon you enter five miles of rollers that at times is closed off to vehicular traffic.
From there, you have a sneaky four mile climb that looks more ominous on paper, but still a bit of a nuisance.
If you watch when the Tour of California goes up Mt. Baldy, the route usually includes a loop up GMR and it’s here when teams apply pressure and things start to thin out.
At this point, you get a larger view of the San Gabriels as you see what time has done to great these great ravines and mountain formations.
4. Rock Store
There probably isn’t a climb on this list that has more adrenaline than climbing Rock Store.
Known as the 2.5 mile portion of Mulholland Highway starting from the famed watering hole, this road is jammed on weekends with cars, motorcycles and bikes buzzing like a playground after school.
The steepness and exposure play off each other as doing the climb is a constant grind.
There are times you pray that it won’t get any worse and whether backtracking is a good idea.
If it means anything, Mark Cavendish suffered up Rock Store as much as you.
When the Tour of California rolled through here in 2014, they shortened the circuit from four laps to three because the sprinters thought it would be too much of a struggle.
Along the way, a number of rock formations jut out almost in a science fiction manner until you reach the peak and have an incredible view on how earthquakes formed the Santa Monica Mountains.
What more do you need to know other than there’s photographers set up to take your picture on the weekend?
Coming Wednesday: #3 – #1