(Includes photos from the 2006 event)

This is the meanest, nastiest climb on the entire Tour of California

and it's right in our backyard. 1,946ft in 3.74 miles according to my bike computer. To put that in perspective, Old LaHonda climbs 1290 ft in 3.37 miles. This is much steeper. And totally out in the open.
This just in from the 2007 event- maybe I'm reading this guy's sign wrong, but it appears to be an insult to the riders (these guys aren't much in front of the broom wagon). "TURN DOWN THE SUCK KNOB."

I have trouble with spectators starting back down the hill before the last rider, thinking that's not giving the respect they (the riders) deserve. But this goes way beyond that.

Maybe there's an alternative way to read that placard that I'm not getting. Perhaps someone can enlighten me. I just know that, in the six years I raced, I never saw anything like that, nor heard anyone say anything like it. And trust me, there were a few times it might have been correct! But to say or write it is, in my opinion, just plain wrong.

Did we tell you that Sierra Road was steep? The photo on the right is one of the few that truly gives a sense of how steep the climb is. This is one of those rare hills that you can really sink your teeth into. Just having low gears isn't enough; you'll actually have to supply a fair amount of force to the pedals and in a few places work a bit to keep the front wheel from popping up.

Thankfully, it's not one of those hopeless, never-ending type of climbs. The constantly-changing views (including cattle that are sometimes actually running on the hills, why, I don't know), the many twists & turns and the changing grade make it go by pretty quickly.

Approaching the top (King of Moutain), where a small town seems to be setting up, hours in advance of the race. Someone's even flying a Tour de France flag.   Two hours before the race, and it's a fairly quiet place.
  But as the riders draw closer, the hill becomes packed with spectators, most of them right where I thought would be a great place for photos. Everybody else thought the same, making it not the greatest spot for photos, but that's a realization that comes too late to do anything about.
  And here they come! Levi, Kohl and Landis in the middle of a crowd that surged into the road, as if this was our version of Alpe d'Huez. Everyone was moving directly into the path of the riders, and then jumping back at the last-possible second. To the best of my knowledge, nobody got run over, but there had to have been a few close calls.
George Hincapie and crew, making their way up almost exactly one minute behind Levi's group... a minute they'd make up on the following descent and then the final run towards the finish line.  
The infamous "broom wagon" with, literally, brooms! The broom wagon "sweeps" the course, following the last rider to the finish. It lets people know there's nobody behind.
Only in California! In February, no less. We have a gorgeous day, great spectator turnout, the San Francisco Bay in the background, and the Marlboro Man looking on.  
While I was hanging around on the main climb, brother Steve was down at the finish, capturing George crossing the line ahead of Chris Horner and Josep Jufre Pou.

George later noted a sense of relief at winning such an important stage, given that he's made something of a transformation from sprinter to climber.
  This shot was taken the Sunday prior to the race, when Jeff and I did a scouting mission to check out the course.

Posing with the beginnings of their handiwork. Unfortunately, you've really got to be BIG and BOLD for it to be legible, for both the riders and the TV coverage.
The map below, showing the KOM (King of the Mountain) spot on Sierra Road (which I always knew as "Sierra Grade Road" back when I raced) shows the location of Sierra Road. It's mean. It's nasty. It's steeeeeeeep. And the only way to get there on race day was by bike or foot. By bike, a good climber is going to make it to the top in about half an hour, while the racers will do it in 15 minutes or so. Plan on an hour and a half if you don't enjoy steep grades. Walking? At least an hour to get to the first photo spot, shown in the pictures below, and over two hours if you want to make it to the very top.
Below is the timetable showing when the riders will pass through various points. Note that they're expected at the top of Sierra Raod between 1:56 and 2:30pm.
As if one needs to show a profile of Sierra Road. A fast climber is going to get from the bottom to the top in half an hour; the racers will get there in maybe 20 minutes.

The casual cyclist should probably allow an hour and a half to get to the top.

Signage at the base says the road will close at noon, but it doesn't differentiate between cars and bikes. In any event, you'll want to start up a bit earlier than that anyway, to get a good spot.

Hit Counter


Interesting stories 
Common questions 
Kid's stuff 
Tech Stuff 
Rides & Maps 

Directions & Hours We're Open
1451 El Camino Redwood City, CA 94063 (650) 366-7130
2310 Homestead (Foothill Crossing), Los Altos, CA 94024 (408) 735-8735 &

Email to Mike in Redwood City or Steve in Los Altos
Content, including text & images, may not be republished without permission
Web Author: Mike Jacoubowsky, Chain Reaction Bicycles
Not responsible for typos etc, but please let us know about them!

Chain Reaction sells bicycles & accessories from Trek, Gary Fisher, BikeFriday,Shimano, Pearl Izumi, Continental, Descente,
Sidi, Giro, Blackburn, Speedplay, Oakley, Saris, NiteRider, Bontrager, Torelli, Look, DeFeet, Rock N Roll, Hammer, Cytomax,
Powerbar, Fox, Clif Bar, CamelBak, Chris King, Profile Design, Craft, X-Lab and many more!