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I read that the steepest street in the world is 35%, and that got me thinking. I ride up a 12.5 % slope that is about a half a mile long every morning, and it never seems to get any easier. So in my mind 35% would be close to impossible. What is the highest slope grade that you ride on a normal basis or have ever ridden, and how did it go?
 

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Spicy Dumpling
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One of the steepest I've done lately was 22% according to a few folks at Bike Virginia. The organizers made it a 'mandatory' walk. I bypassed the marshall and did the climb on my 44/18 singlespeed with a bit of zigzagging. We have a local hill that supposedly is around 26% that I've also done with the SS with a short break. I take % grade with a grain of salt, everybody's computer is different and most folks go with the highest number that they saw for 1 second during the climb..
 

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The road up Brasstown Bald in the N. Georgia Mountains has grades exceeding 20%. It's generally part of the Tour de Georgia route. That is the steepest road I have ridden on .. or I should say walked my bike up. I tried to ride the entire 2-mile stretch but fell over sideways because I couldn't turn my pedals.
 

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The steepest I've ridden was 24% on the old, secondary road between Paso Robles, CA & the coast. In a 39/25 gear I could just keep the pedals turning. The steepest I've ridden on a fixed gear (44/17, ~70 inches) was 18%. A bit of "paper boy" zig-zagging helped get up that pitch. Both grades followed sustained climbs in the 12%-14% range.
 

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Several of my regular rides take me through 12-18% stretches. Occasionally I'll tackle a local street that varies from 18-20 over about three-quarters of a mile, but I have to be in the right mood...which is seldom.

Then there's L.A.'s Fargo Street, officially the steepest street in California at 32%. I steer clear of it myself, but Hollywood (the RBR denizen, not the myth) regularly does it riding backwards on his unicycle.
 

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The famous Filbert Street of San Francisco is climbed regularly by bike couriers. I hope some day to ride it. I believe the movie Quicksilver use that street in which you see Kevin Bacon struggle to climb on fix gear. I thinks its 31.5% (17 degree). I climb Flagstaff (average 9% in 5 miles span) in Colorado about 5-8 times a year and that too never gets easier.
 

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chuckice said:
Nice to see Canton Ave. in Pittsburgh, PA get recognition as the steepest grade. While not a long climb, the 37% max slope is just insane and the cobblestone surface only adds to the difficulty. I climbed it once, but that was on an MTB with ultra-low gearing (don't think I could have made it on a standard road bike!)

BTW, that 37% grade works out to "only" 20.3°. If you have a protractor handy, that angle will give you an idea of this hill. Doesn't seem that impressive, but one attempt will change your mind.

Here is a YouTube video showing some riders conquering (and being defeated) by Canton Ave:<object height="344" width="425">

<embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/NxWceFTkLRU&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" height="344" width="425"></object>

Paul
 

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I found a paved trail in a wooded upper-scale housing development/resort near where I live, and it has some unbelievably steep sections- I would say in the 30% area. But those sections are only about 30-60 feet long. So it goes 30% for 30 feet then almost flat for 30 feet and then 30% again. So I power up those sections and wheeze and see stars and wobble to the next section, then power up the next and so on. There are about 5 or 6 of these. If I can get my blackberry to download pics without bluescreening my computer I will poast.
 

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Kirby Hill Road, off of Quaker Ridge in Putnam Cnty New York. About 3/4 mile at an average of 27%, momentary "slams" of 30%. Up, barely make it using a 30/25 on my triple bikes. Never made it on one of my double equipped bikes, but I'm determined to make it on my 34/25 compact bike sometime this year. Down, I top out at 61mph over that very short distance.
 

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The famous Manayunk Wall in Philadelphia has an 18% section; I've never done it on a bike (one day...) but I have climbed it on inline skates. I don't know how the pros do it 10 times in a day. The descent is definitely worth the climb, too.
 

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It's mostly flat where I live, but we have plenty of short, but steep river valleys. Some of them are in the high teens. That's plenty for me, thank you.
 

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The steepest climbs around my neck of the woods are private roads running up from public roads to the tops of the mountains edging the valley.

One of them starts climbing at around 12-14% and after 1/4 mile begins to steepen until it gets 30+% for the last 1/4 mile before it begins to level off at approx. 5%, which occurs at about .8 mile from bottom. Good pavement, though.

Last year I couldn't make it up the 30+% section in my truck which had a manual tranny with a bad first gear. So I had to back down and then back up the damn hill in reverse gear to get to where I was headed. Embarrassing I tell ya.
 

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The steepest I've climbed is a local hill that's 31.5% at the steepest part. It's a fairly short hill the steepest part only being around maybe 40 yards or so. When I was 20 I could zig-zag up it in a 42/21(53 inch gear). That was almost 30 years ago. I managed it again a couple of years ago in a 26/25(28 inch gear). I need to try again to see if I can still make it....
 

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There are a lot of steep stretches here in Ohio, particularly in the SE quadrant. Problem is nothing goes on for very long, especially at the steeper parts. I know of a spot that hits 24%, but it does that for maybe 40 or 50 feet. Lots of that sort of thing.

There is a hill south of Columbus (maybe 25 miles or so), that is close to half mile long, and it averages about 13%. It's very consistent in grade and probably doesn't vary by more than 1% for the entire thing. As far as I know that's the longest hill of any grade > 10% in Ohio.
 
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