The best cycling climb in Tasmania?
If you don’t mind a bit of gravel this would be hard to argue with. Spectacular views, super quiet roads, switchbacks, hors categories climbing…
In 2019 we made this part of our Tasmania – UnderDownunder Odyssey. Prior to this, we had bypassed to the north, unwilling to test our roadie crowd on the dirt. However, we certainly haven’t regretted the change as it certainly is a climb to remember, up there with the European greats.
Although 66km from Launceston to the top on good cycling roads we take the shuttle option to the bottom of the climb. We do this because the climb is solid. By solid I mean after 48km on the road and 880m of elevation, turning right onto a gravel road and an immediate 4km @9% is a tough kick up.. The gravel is (as of December 2019) in excellent condition. We rode comfortably on 25mm tyres on a road bike on the way up to the start of Jacob’s Ladder. The switchbacks of Jacob’s Ladder have a denser and more rutted gravel surface – rough and ok to go up if you are comfortable with non-tarmac surfaces, but for many roadies this is a bit much, especially considering the potential weather at the top. From the top, it is a shortish drag up to the ski station. Before that don’t miss the lookout on the left at the top of the switchbacks, this is where all the photos you see of this climb are from! This issue with road bikes is really descending. Again the switchback section is the toughest and worst gravel. The rest is ok but with skinnier tyres and less traction, you need to take it slowly and carefully.
We had 3 riders on road bikes with 25mm tyres. 2 road up and back, 1 chose to walk the switchbacks (no.5). 2 rode back down, one got a lift. THe 2 took it very slowly and carefully. We had 4 riders on 32mm tyres and gravel bikes, all road up and back down, no worries. We will be back in Feb and will add the statistics!
Statistics for Ben Lomond cycling climb (from turn off onto Ben Lomond road)
The climb has 6 clear sections which makes it much more approachable for riders – total 18km @ 8% all gravel
- 4km @9% – beautiful, well-surfaced gravel in dense bush with no cars
- 3km @2% – a welcome break, more beautiful, well-surfaced gravel in dense bush with no cars
- another 4km @9% – beautiful, well-surfaced gravel in dense bush with no cars
- 2.6km @1% – more of the above, a great break..
- 1.6km @11% – Jacob’s Ladder!
- 2.5km @4% up to ski station
It is a great climb, so worth the effort. Weather is unpredictable at the top but until just before Jacobs which is 14km in it is very protected by bush.