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San Francisco Bay Area Cycling – Santa Cruz Mountains – Hicks Road North/Mt. Umunhum Climbing


4.1 miles. 2,199 ft elevation gain. 10.2% average grade. 17% max grade.

Let that sink in for a minute. Over 4 miles of climbing at over 10%. If that doesn’t scare you just a little bit, I don’t know what will.

Anyway, this is, not surprisingly, another climb listed in Summerson’s The Complete Guide to Climbing (By Bike) in California. In this book, Hicks Road North/Mt Umunhum gets a few noteworthy mentions..

For all of California:

  • #7 Most Difficult Half Mile: 14.3% (mile 0.3-0.8)
  • #5 Most Difficult Mile: 13.9% (mile 0.1-1.1)
  • For the San Francisco Bay Area:

  • #1 Most Difficult Climb
  • #5 Steepest Climb (10.2%)
  • #5 Most Technical Descent
  • #4 Highest Elevation Attained Climb (2,846 ft)
  • #5 Greatest Length of >10% Grade Climb (1.6 miles)
  • With this many mentions..and an entire mile at 13.9% (!), I had to try this out. Somehow, I actually also convinced my mom to attempt it as well. She is an avid cyclist, but stats like these give her pause. Anyway, despite the ridiculousness of the grade, she was game (after thinking it over for a few minutes). Sweet.

    The first part of Hicks Road consists of rolling bumps that gradually bring you upwards (<400 feet gain in 5 miles). This stretch is semi-scenic:

    From 2010-07-25 – San Francisco Bay Area Cycling – Hicks Rd & Mt. Umunhum Climb
    From 2010-07-25 – San Francisco Bay Area Cycling – Hicks Rd & Mt. Umunhum Climb
    From 2010-07-25 – San Francisco Bay Area Cycling – Hicks Rd & Mt. Umunhum Climb

    There is a bit of car traffic along here though, so watch your line. The only real climbing in this first stretch is a short, but steep, bump up to Guadalupe Reservoir:

    From 2010-07-25 – San Francisco Bay Area Cycling – Hicks Rd & Mt. Umunhum Climb
    From 2010-07-25 – San Francisco Bay Area Cycling – Hicks Rd & Mt. Umunhum Climb
    From 2010-07-25 – San Francisco Bay Area Cycling – Hicks Rd & Mt. Umunhum Climb

    Enjoy the respite along the reservoir. It will not last. After you round a sharp bend (and cross a second small creek crossing), you are suddenly faced with a wall of pain..

    From 2010-07-25 – San Francisco Bay Area Cycling – Hicks Rd & Mt. Umunhum Climb

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