The hills to the East and South of Adelaide offer plenty of lung-busting, leg-burning, stem-chewing roads for the climbing enthusiasts to test their mettle. Below are the 5 hardest, all within 20km of the centre of the city. Adelaide is awesome.
Words - James Raison
Welcome back to Adelaide’s 5 hardest climbs! We’ve shared this a couple of times before the Tour Down Under so this can refresh you on some of the horrors if you’ve read it before. Have fun and enjoy some of the amazing roads, or some of the bastard roads with sweet views at the top!
5. Kensington Road
The top of Kensington Road serves up 12% average gradient nastiness for 1.2 km. It’s pretty unfriendly.
The lower slopes aren’t too challenging but it starts to get ugly 400 metres in. The grade jumps up and stays from 12-17% for the rest of the climb. Once you’re past the houses there’s a series of sharp bends before you can slump over your bars in the carpark lookout at the top. Kensington Road Strava segment.
4. Sheoak Road
So Sheoak Road is only 5.1 km at 5%. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Wrong! This road is a hateful rollercoaster from hell.
The start is the worst, as a 400 metre section slaps you in the face with a max gradient of 24%. Yep, that’s how it starts. There’s a plateau at the top before it ramps up again, drops down for a quick descent, before settling into a gradual climb. It’s a wacky road.
Another descent delivers you to the final wall, hovering between 15% and 17% for a couple of hundred metres. The pain is over soon though, as the road ends soon and you’re close enough to Stirling to go find coffee to cry into. Sheoak Road Strava segment.
3. Coach Road
Coach Road is as subtle and nuanced as a punch in the face. This is a climb of straight lines and steepness.
Turn off the top of the Parade and let the discomfort begin. It’s a grind up the the first left corner before the gradient drops down a little past Knox Terrace to the right. The next wall is a pure jerk. The gradient pins itself to an uncomfortably consistent 15% for about 600m. Ouch.
After that insult, you’ll turn right and have a glorious rest of 4-5% for about 100m. Don’t get too comfortable though because the 200m 20% Coach Road wall is ahead of you. Grind your way to the top of that and you’ll then drop down. Try and carry as much momentum as you can into the last ramp before rolling into the carpark to finish. Coach Road Strava segment.
2. Cherryville Road
Oh-so-close to the number 1 spot is Cherryville road, a beautiful, narrow, switchbacky stretch of tarmac hidden off Montacute Road. You’ll get a preview of the road before climbing it because you have to descend it first. That’s never a good feeling.
Swing around at the bottom and you’re facing 2.1 km stretch averaging 11% gradient. It’s delivered relentlessly. The first ramp hits 20% early on before relaxing slightly down to 8%. Soon it’s back into the horrible double-digits but you might be slightly distracted by your beautiful surroundings. The final few hundred metres are agonising as it kicks you with 20% one more time before easing down to 8% to finish. Cherryville Strava segment.
1. Coach-house Drive & Woodland Way
Best of the worst is Coach-house Drive and Woodland way, nestled between Old Norton Summit and Norton Summit Roads. This hill is a 2.7 km 11% bastard.
Swing off Norton Summit Road and Coach-house Drive rears up right in front of you. The gradient starts to pitch up. There’s some fantastic views of the city to your left before you make the right turn onto Woodland Way. This is a tough stretch of road. There’s 3 separate walls where the gradient really hurts. The first 2 are the ‘easiest,’ hitting around 15% each and there are some brief moments of respite between them of around 8-10%.
The final kicker is horrible and you have plenty of time to stare it down on approach. It rises to 25% to smash your already tired legs. There’s still a couple of hundred metres of 10% left where you can consider the poor life choices that led to you climbing this hill. Coach-house Drive & Woodland Way Strava segment.
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