Old La Honda climb

19Apr06

Old La Honda Road is one of the classic climbs on the Peninsula, and, as I’ve learned has something of a history as a test of one’s climbing/riding level. I did it for the first time a few months ago training for the Sea Otter Classic century ride, and rode it for time the first time last Saturday. Well, I didn’t ride it for time, I timed myself climbing at what felt like a solid, tempo effort.

Much of the following borrowed from: http://felixwong.com/

Old La Honda Climb Statistics

  • Distance: 3.37 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1290 feet
  • Average grade: 7.2%
  • Max grade: 15% (18% inside switchbacks), never very long

The course record, according to various posts on USENET newsgroups, is a few ticks under 15 minutes (14:50 or so), and is either owned by Dr. Eric Heiden (the Olympic speed-skating champion who lived 2/3rds up Old La Honda), or a guy named Mike Murray.

The Western Wheelers even has a “rider category system” based on a rider’s times up Old La Honda. (This helps match cyclists with Western Wheeler rides of his or her appropriate level of difficulty). The system is as follows:

Category A: total novice
Category B: it takes the cyclist 40-60 minutes to go up Old La Honda
Category C: 30-40 minutes
Category D: 25-30 minutes
Category E: 20-25 minutes
Category F: under 20 minutes

Okay, so I came in at 25:45 on my baseline ride, before I’d seen this info. I knew people timed themselves from the bridge and I wanted to see where I was. Not sure what to say, other than Heiden wasn’t even a particularly good climber by pro standards, and his time (or the legend of his time) is staggering.

So I wonder how much I can shave off the 25:45? I came into the climb with 35 miles in my legs at a very good clip. Going to try it this weekend with a 15 mile easy warmup around the Woodside loop. I think I can come in around 24 with a decent effort, but we’ll see. Anyone else done Old La Honda for time?

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