Following on from our climbing tips, we thought it would be a good idea to give you some places to test them out.
The typical measure of how steep a climb is its grade, but it’s not always that simple. Few of these climbs are relentlessly steep, but some ramp up in all the wrong places, particularly at a point where there’s nothing left in the tank.
So, these climbs have been ranked according to how close they have come to dislodging some dinner on the way up. Our so-called Lunch-launcher rating is on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being certain roadside embarrassment.
There are two ways to attack Caerphilly Mountain from Rhiwbina, but this is probably the most unpleasant. Starting out in a housing estate just off Heol-y-Deri, the climb heads up and over the M4 where the intensity is ramped up and doesn’t let up until near the top. Lunch-launcher rating for this one is 9.
The climb onto Eglwysilan, rather like the Wenallt is relentless. It starts steep, but gets progressively steeper. It’s steep enough that it becomes difficult to stay in your saddle without raising the front wheel as you pedal. Lunch-launcher rating of 8.5 on this, but at least the view from the top is pretty good.
The Chain Stretcher – Treforest Estate Station to Efail Isaf
Our new favourite, this one. It’s steep as heck, but gradually levels off towards a farm, where it then descends into Efail Isaf. Lunch launcher rating of 7 on this one. It’s steep, but manageable.
You can also extend it by taking a left at the pub and heading towards Pentyrch. It’s a very pretty route, but expect some slow-moving traffic.
Here we are effectively attacking Eglwysilan again, but from the other side. This time, climbing out of Senghenydd, taking a left on Commercial Street onto an unassuming lane you head up and over Bwlch Carnygelli before heading down the other side into Nelson. Lunch-launcher rating of 5 here, but the journey there from Cardiff may mean that you have already scaled our next one already…
The steepest part of this climb, mercifully is at the start as you pass over the M4, but you can see most of it ahead of you, adding to the mental challenge. However, it is easier than all of the others, unless you ride past the Black Cock and take on the climb to the A469 as well.
It’s a good one to hone your skills on and is easy to incorporate into a long ride back to somewhere like Tongwynlais or Caerphilly. Lunch-launcher rating of 4 here. If you have the time and you do ride up to join the A469, take the hill down to the roundabout & the Old Nantgarw Road. Follow it all the way to Upper Boat, where you can take on the Chain Stretcher as well.
Head up the Garth from the pub, where the steepest part of the climb can be found. Here it peaks at around 30%, dipping to around 24% at the hairpin. However, from here on in it gets easier and, despite a few false summits you are virtually home and dry.
Whilst it has a fearsome reputation, it’s actually one of the more pleasant ways up the Garth. The competition is the Chain Stretcher above and Heol Goch, which is a horrid way up thanks to all the traffic. Go up here, descent Heol Goch rather than the other way around!
Lunch Launcher rating of 7 on this one.
Have we missed out your favourite? Why not let us know which one and what Lunch-launcher rating you would give it!
From the responses we’ve had already, there was a need for a sequel. Here you go…
Penarth climb up from custom house at the barrage fork left then shimmy right up mayhem terrace and up to the top of stanwell crescent . A classic hill climb for single speed nutters . 7 out of 10
The Cardiff tumble : up the long steep hill of the a48 from culver house cross towards cowbridge . Longer and the harder you attack it the harder it is : 6 out of 10
A48 up Rumney hill from Newport road . Busy traffic , but lots of lanes and safe enough if you have high viz and hold your line in secondary or primary position . Spin to win up this one and don’t get intimidated . The speed camera will keep the cars speed down to under 30 mph so it’s relatively Unintimidating . 5 out of 10
Pentyrch hill (the long drag) from ynys bridge 3 miles up to the Lewis arms . Good one for 3 or four riders to try to drop or hang on or time trial . A relentless steady incline 5 out of 10
Going to need a Part 2 at this rate, Dave!
Pentyrch from the Gwaelod y Garth inn . Steepest hairpin bend I have ever ridden . 45 percent on the inside of the switchback . Brutally steep from the start but it eases off after a couple of hundred yards and worth the climb for the fantastic views off the side of the Garth . The challenge is to stay on the bike until it eases off . Easy to go anairobic on that one 9 out of 10
I like hills 😉
1) Leckwith Road heading towards Llandough Hospital from the City ground.
2) Van Road climb to Draethen.
3) Lisvane to Maenllywd pub then onto top of Van Road before descent into Caerphilly (and vice versa although easier going back into Cardiff as mainly downhill after a third of the way in)
4) Caerphilly mountain – Crematorium/railway station to cafe
After completing the Rhiwbina Hill climb, I traditionally carry on through Tongwynlais and cross the A470, heading up to Pentyrch. Ascending Heol Goch, the climb from the police station is about 123 metres over 2.89 kms. Well worth the effort, and strongly recommended to anyone looking for a long, but beautiful, grind.
Graig Rd from Lisvane up onto the Ridgeway by the farm. Monstrously steep and quite long. 23% in the middle.
Graig Rd from Lisvane is a killer. Most of my rides start with a climb from Tongwynlais to the Black Cock up Heol y Fforest. Starts gradual but steepens towards the end with a couple of false summits.
But these are all road climbs and therefore easy.
These are proper Cardiff climbs:
Two great segments – thanks for posting those! I think Gavin needs to extend this article and write another one for MTB climbs. Then I’d add this one that is so steep, I’ve been overtaken by runners on! https://www.strava.com/segments/1220943
That sounds like a challenge, Nick! However, might we suggest that should you fancy doing another guest post in the future, this could be something you would consider writing about? 😉
Pound hill off the a48 a killer takes practice a lot to make it up in one go
This so-called ‘Chain Stretcher’; surely it’s from Treforest Estate station, not Treforest?
Yes, that’s the one!
Gwaelod y Garth 2km / 134m: The Garth has some fantastic routes around its flanks, however taking the turn up the narrow lane behind the Gwaelod pub quickly becomes a very challenging climb with the steepest hairpin bend in the area (frequently a spot where Amazon delivery drivers get their vans ‘beached’ by the gradient!). The bit after the hairpin is the steepest (22%+), and looking down to the left to the River Taff, you realise how high you’ve climbed. After a cattle grid, the gradient reduces a bit and eventually levels off before a couple more hills. There are some interesting ruins in the woods from former mining houses and the site of a pub called the Colliers that was big enough to hold its own Eisteddfod. Keep going – the official Strava segment ends after 2km with a nice straight section following the contours below the top of the hill. If you want to add a little sting to the climb, take the first right-hand turn by the white cottages and climb the lane as far as the tarmac goes to the footpath up to the Garth.
Fforest Fawr 1.5km / 78m: Of Summer 2016 fame, where on a drizzly evening and closed road, this hill hosted the first Plan2Ride hill climb contest. It starts off just past the entrance to Castell Coch and steadily climbs to its end at the entrance of Fforest Fawr car park. You have to pace yourself and not be fooled by the easy start since the end requires all the stamina you have left. A pretty woodland climb with babbling a babbling stream and an exceptionally good road surface.
Gwern y Steeple 1.6km / 99m: Slightly out of town, but this climb from the Ely River in Peterston-Super-Ely up to the A48 just outside St. Nicholas is a challenging one. Just watch out for traffic on the latter half after the turning for Pendoylan, since it’s a bit of a rat run for Vale commuters. The most challenging section is about 2/3 of the way in where the tree cover becomes dense and there are a few steep-sided banks that twist and turn.
Like the article. Glam Uni Steep Hill near Trefforest – you might have to get off and turn back