Jacobs Ladder Bicycle Climb Tasmania

Ben Lomond and Jacobs Ladder by bike

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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

  1. 4km @9% – beautiful, well-surfaced gravel in dense bush with no cars
  2. 3km @2% – a welcome break, more beautiful, well-surfaced gravel in dense bush with no cars
  3. another 4km @9% – beautiful, well-surfaced gravel in dense bush with no cars
  4. 2.6km @1% – more of the above, a great break..
  5. 1.6km @11% – Jacob’s Ladder!
  6. 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.

One thought on “Ben Lomond and Jacobs Ladder by bike

  1. “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…”
    Nice post Sam, but I really couldn’t let this go through to the keeper without a comment. I’ve spent a lot of time driving up and down the road to the top of Ben Lomond, mostly to go climbing but also a bit of skiing. Admittedly, I haven’t ridden the bike up there yet, but Dianne and I are looking forward to taking the new gravel bikes up there once the weather warms up a bit. Nonetheless, I’ve got no illusions that as an experience it won’t come close to stacking up against the climb up kunanyi/Mt Wellington. While the views from the top of Jacob’s Ladder are very impressive, and you do get glimpses of the impressive Frew’s Flutes rock buttresses as you go past a little lower down, they don’t come close to matching the expansive views from the top of kunanyi, or the Organ Pipes and across to Lost World as you’re on the way to the top. And for those who want a little break on the way up, the Lost Freight café at The Springs or even the fresh water on tap at The Chalet at 1000 metres offer a nice respite. And then there is the magnificent run back down to the Hobart waterfront to a cold beer and fish and chips. It won’t be quite the same thing descending the Ben Lomond gravel back to the tarmac I reckon, with an anticlimatic finish at the car. Still, I’m looking forward to the full experience. Still I am really looking forward to it.
    kunanyi provides a crescendo, an exclamation mark and the perfect finale to your UnderDownunder tour. Ben Lomond is a great addition but no way is it the “best cycling climb in Tasmania”. The great thing though is that you’ve now got both an hors categorie ascent AND an hors categorie gravel climb. RIDE ON!

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