5 things to know about climbing Mt. Baldy

Riders’ grimacing faces may have said enough about the tough climb to Mt. Baldy during Saturday’s Stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California, but Arizona’ own Chris Leffler (NAU Cycling) knows the terrain first hand.

Leffler pre-rode the climb before the pros took over, and here are five things to know about the road to Mt. Baldy, illustrating just how much these guys suffered:

1. Be prepared for what lies ahead.

The road ahead is a challenging one. It starts at close to 1,000 feet, climbing up to 6,500 feet at the ski lifts at Mt. Baldy, and all roads going up are challenging ones. On today’s L’Étape fondo ride, which is similar to the Tour of California Stage 7, you do a total of 82 miles and an elevation gain of over 11,000 feet.

2. Gears are your friend.

11,000 feet of climbing in one ride is no joke, and some of the hills can be brutal. On the last hill climb up to Mt. Baldy, the road averages a 9 percent grade, with the highest peaks being 17 percent. Get that granny gear out!

3. Bring a friend.

Yes you could probably do this climb solo and bring out your inner champion, but having people riding with you goes a long way. Have someone with you to experience this awesome ride, as well as a partner or group to help mentally (and maybe physically) push you up these hills.

4. Don’t give up.

This climb can break you, but not many people can say they accomplished something like this. When you want to quit, just keep going. I promise it’s worth it.

5. Don’t forget to enjoy the views.

If you thought the inclines were having you gasp for air, you need to look and take in the breathtaking scenery. Riding along the ridge of Glendora Mountain Road and up to the summit of Baldy had some of the best views I’ve seen in California, even in the rain and fog. I took out my phone on some of the climbs, and people thought I was crazy.

Chris Leffler