SOLVANG, CA // NOVEMBER 14, 2020
FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN CLIMB
15 KM | 3,086 FT ELEVATION GAIN | 6% AVG GRADE | HC CLIMB
The crown jewel of this gran fondo is undoubtedly Figueroa Mountain. The climb up the mountain is long and laced with steep pitches that will test your legs and will power. Those who conquer Figueroa Mountain will be rewarded with stunning views and a fast, winding descent.
EXPLORE THE 6 SECTIONS OF FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN
SECTION 1 - "UP WE GO"
3.5 KM | 6% AVG GRADE | 13% MAX GRADE
Less than 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean the topography abruptly changes. The San Rafael Mountains and its 6,000 foot peaks loom in the distance. If the scenery didn’t give it away the constant 9-10% gradient of Section 1 will leave no doubt, you are on your way up…
Section 1 is as tough as it is beautiful. Immediately you'll be met with steep pitches as you begin to pedal up this iconic climb. Power through the steep switchbacks, catch your breath when you can and take a moment to have a look around at the stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It is all worth it.
SECTION 2 - "THE YELLOW DIRT ROAD"
1.5 KM | 4% AVG GRADE | 15% MAX GRADE
After coming off Section 1, you'll enjoy a more gradual gradient before encountering one of the unique features of the Figueroa Mountain climb - a 1.5KM section of gravel road that cuts through rolling hills that shine golden in the morning light.
Your focus will shift from a steady grind uphill to choosing the smoothest line. The average grade on this section may seem subdued, but don't worry, you'll be hit with short pitches that will sufficiently sting the legs.
Survive this section, and you'll enjoy a brief respite before entering the heart of the beast...
SECTION 3 - "LION'S CANYON"
5 KM | 9% AVG GRADE | 15% MAX GRADE
Don't be fooled by the short descent following Section 2, after rolling through two paved water crossings you'll embark on a long grind up the narrow Lion's Canyon. You've now entered what many people consider to be the toughest section of the climb.
The painful 9% average grade and multiple steep pitches will test your willpower. There are no sweeping views to distract you or descents that will save you in this section. It's just you, your bike, and a long challenging climb ahead. Don't get swallowed up in the heart of the beast...
SECTION 4 - "TO THE SUMMIT"
5.6 KM | 7% AVG GRADE | 10% MAX GRADE
When you emerge from Lion's Canyon you'll climb your way onto the ridge of Figueroa Mountain where you'll be met with beautiful vistas stretching to the ocean, smooth sweeping road, and a much more forgiving gradient.
At this point, you are well on your way to the summit, but in your cross-eyed state don't trick yourself into thinking it's just around the corner...This is the longest section of the climb.
SECTION 5 - "SWEEPING DESCENT"
6.5 KM | -5.5% AVG GRADE
Take a quick moment to enjoy the triumph and relief of reaching the summit. Now it's time to get in the drops and start descending down the mountain.
The amazing views will try to steal your attention, but keep your eyes on the sweeping turns ahead as you drop down Figueroa Mountain. There's not much need for braking in this section and you'll have to keep yourself from smiling with glee as you fly down this fast and smooth descent.
SECTION 6 - "SOUL-STIRRING SWITCHBACKS"
7.9 KM | -7% AVG GRADE
Now is the time for braking. Section 6 is filled with steep, tight switchbacks that will require laser focus. There's no time to check out the view of the surrounding mountains; after every corner you'll be setting up for the next and keeping an eye out for rough patches of tarmac.
After you've safely navigated the challenging switchbacks and are cruising along the valley road back towards Santa Ynez, take a quick peek back to revel in having risen to the demands of the climb and conquered Figueroa Mountain.
Now put your head down and get back to work. You still have a gran fondo to finish...