Top 10 climbs in Palos Verdes

May 13, 2012 § 14 Comments

The South Bay produces lots of riders who can absolutely smoke it on the uphills. This is due in part to the excellent climbing available on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Below is my ranking of the ten best climbs. Route descriptions are referenced according to Strava.

1. Forrestal-Ganado-Domes: 3.4 miles, average grade 6.3%. The toughest climb on the peninsula. It begins on Forrestal when you turn off of PV Drive South, connects with Ganado, then takes Crest all the way to the radar domes. If you do “Segment Search” in Strava for “The Big One, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA,” you’ll find it. It’s a solid 20-minute climb. The first part of Forrestal is deceptively steep, and the rest of the climb to Crest is not deceptive at all. It goes up, and up, and up. The wall before Ganado is horrific, and Ganado itself is beyond horrific. This is as close to a pro climb as we have in the South Bay. Long, leg breaking, steep, lung busting, relentless, and ridden rarely because it hurts so much.

2. Anchovy-Friendship Park-Domes: 4.0 miles, 7% (est). This would be harder than Forrestal except that after you complete the climb above Friendship Park there is a substantial respite before you hit Crest and climb to the domes. Otherwise, it’s an absolute killer. It starts off as an 8.2% wall, climbs for half a mile, then finishes at 11.6% for another five hundred yards before briefly leveling out. You enter the park’s parking lot, pedal to the back, lift your bike over the barricade, and continue up the paved road for another .5 mile, averaging a solid 15% along the steepest part. Then you get another breather from Calle Aventura to PV East until you turn right on Crest and grind the final 1.6 miles at 5.3% to the radar domes.

3. The Switchbacks: The Strava segment is called “RPV Switchbacks.” This is the gold standard climb in the South Bay. 1.9 miles, 5.1%, and a mere 508 feet of climbing, it’s hardly a tough or challenging climb. You can big ring it or spin it…as you wish. However, if you want to crack the top three times, get ready to leave something on the road. This is the most popular climb in the South Bay; everyone’s done it, it’s drilled every single week on the Donut Ride, and although there are many harder climbs, there’s none that’s tougher if you’re out hunting a legit Strava KOM. Which I know you’re not. But just in case…

4. Calle de Suenos-Crest-Whitley Collins: 3.3 miles, 4.5% (est.) this is a harder, more interesting, and less common route than Hawthorne-Crest, which I’ve left off the list because it’s so ugly, boring, and such a wretched slog compared to Calle de Suenos. Hawthorne is slightly longer and slightly steeper, but this is my list. Sorry. The section on Crest after crossing Hawthorne is not steep but kind of a grind. The kicker is the back side of Whitley-Collins, which rips up at 7.8% and is gnarliest at the end…as it should be.

5. Paseo de la Playa-Via del Monte-Granvira Altamira-Whitley Collins: This is an amalgamation of several climbs, beginning at Paseo de la Playa in RAT Beach, connecting with Palos Verdes Drive Boulevard, doglegging through Malaga Cove to the Strava segment called Via del Monte Full, straight across Hawthorne to Ridgegate, right on Highridge, and then finishing with the front side of Whitley-Collins and its .2 miles at 9.9%. The entire climb is like a billion miles long, has one traffic signal and four hundred stop signs. You’ll have to decide for yourself what to do about them. This is a killer climb to do early in the morning, shortly after or just before the PV cops park their dummy patrol car with the blacked-out windows somewhere on Via del Monte. This climb has everything. Steep sections, 180-degree turn, flat spots, false flats, slight and brief downhill, long grinds…and it finishes with a leg-breaker. As it should.

6. Eastvale-Sunnyridge: This is a little-ridden extremely noxious climb that will completely crush you. It’s only about a mile long, but averages a solid 9%. The key is to bear right when Eastvale meets Sunnyridge. From there it kicks up and up and up. Take care descending Sunnyridge. It’s a residential street. This is certainly one of the nastiest climbs on the hill, and gets bypassed for that very reason. You pick it up on PV Drive North just past Crenshaw.

7. Crenshaw-Crest-Whitley Collins: In the spirit of miserable, dangerous, grinding, unpleasant rides with nothing to recommend them except length and dreadfulness, I bring you Crenshaw. If you begin it at PCH, it’s about 4 miles at 7%. The traffic is dense and fast and dangerous on the lower slope. The traffic is not as dense, but faster after you cross PV Drive North. However, the width of the lane makes it relatively safe. Relatively. After the light at Silver Spur, the road jacks up considerably and really sucks. You get a brief respite on Crest, and then pounded in the face with a brick when you hit the final .3 miles on Whitley-Collins. This climb is so miserable and awful that you’ll never, ever do it more than once.

8. Reservoir-Homes & Domes: This is the climb up Palos Verdes Drive East to Miraleste, down Miraleste, and up through the neighborhood back to PV Drive East, then up to the radar domes. It’s a terrible, dangerous climb up from the reservoir due to the traffic, narrow lanes, angry drivers on their way to church, and bad pavement. The climb is neither challenging nor particularly scenic. The Better Homes Section up Via Colinita is about .7 miles, fairly steep, pretty, but not otherwise notable. So why do this climb? Because it’s a standard.

9. Zumaya-Coronel: This is actually the name of the Strava segment; it’s 2.9 miles at 4.4%. It has a couple of steep sections and only two brief sections where you can catch your breath before it kicks up again. It includes the sweeping uphill grind on Coronel and finishes at a nice little grassy park. It’s often included at the end of the Donut Ride for those who haven’t left everything on the Glass Church sprint and The Rollers.

10. You tell me.

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§ 14 Responses to Top 10 climbs in Palos Verdes

  • What, You want my name? says:

    #10 candidate: Crownview Drive. Perhaps too short. But an ass-kicker nonetheless. Some descend Crownview slower than they climb.

  • Usta Befit says:

    I like Rat Beach to Via Del monte then right on Del Sol….3 real steep sections after you cross Via Fernandez. After that I like to go right on Granvina & across Hawthorne to Ridgegate. Then make a right on High Ridge followed by a left on Whitley Collins for a quick uphill blast. I follow that by going right on Crest, left on Hawthorne, & then right on PV Dr. which takes me back to Zumaya-Coronel…..who says big guys don’t like to climb?

    • Wankmeister says:

      We are going to have to recruit a special naming committee to come up with a moniker for that one…and you’re not “big,” you’re “built for fast descending.”

  • dplindstedt says:

    #10 – Via Fortuna. Starts 50 feet from my driveway, climbs another 50 feet to a cul-de-sac. No one has done it and if I ever bother I will be KOM.

  • stageonesports says:

    dah Woodz… repeats. After dah Bitches of course.

  • kest56 says:

    Are you kidding me? Come up the the north part of the state for a real climb. This is my coming weekend. Maybe I will survive

    • Wankmeister says:

      Wow. There are steeper and harder climbs on the planet than the ones in PV? Who knew.

      • kest56 says:

        Yep, and I hear we may be accompanied by banjo music on the climbs.

        • Wankmeister says:

          These rides you’ve listed are pancake flat wuss rides compared to countless regular roads in Colombia. There’s always some road, somewhere, that’s steeper. Longer. Harder. With worse pavement. What makes PV such a great place to ride is that it’s set in the middle of a densely populated major city. If you’re visiting LA, it’s an easy pedal to the peninsula to get in as much climbing as you want. Virtually any route will give you about 100 feet of climbing per mile. Not trying to knock Brasstown Bald (well, actually I am), but it’s in fucking Georgia, which is already the middle of nowhere, and it’s in the middle of nowhere in the middle of nowhere. So now I have to go to Pigfuckerville, USA, catch a turnip truck, rent a room at the Sodomy and Baptist Inn, and lay in three months’ of supplies just to ride my bike up a hill that’s so steep and long I’ll probably fall over? Not today, thanks. Here in PV you can stay in a nice seaside hotel where the folks speak a form of English that doesn’t sound like it’s being rendered through two teeth and three IQ points. You can have a good cup of coffee. You can give your hooker, who is likely disease-free, over the age of 12, and not your cousin, a nice tip before setting out. You can get in 60 miles with 6k of climbing, much of it along a gorgeous coastline or with beautiful ocean views. You can return to your hotel, nap, and eat something for lunch other than hog parts and grits. Then in the evening you can take in live music that doesn’t involve a banjo, or just take a casual pedal to watch some of the local drive-by gang shootings. So…thanks for posting the link. PS: Nice blog!

      • Dave says:

        Don’t believe everything you read in the Georgia Tourism guide…

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