Figueroa Mountain is another glaring example of taking one of California’s greatest paved climbs and somehow making it better by going off the beaten path.
Just like Gibraltar Road, most cyclists think only about the ascent which is fair enough because it’s great on it’s on own so much to warrant one of the best Gran Fondos.
At the same time, many people enjoy taking their gravel bikes up this road because of the shoddy conditions you’ll face on the downhills.
One thing about climbing from the west (the fondo comes from the east) is while the overall grade seems like an expected 7%, the effort is deceptive as the dips and double digit sectors definitely put it at you.
For me, I’ve always scanned the Strava Heat Maps to look for additional routes and when I found a lightly highlighted area shooting off to the north, by exploring antennae shot right up.
While thousands of attempts up Figueroa Mountain Road have occurred in both directions, just over a hundred have tried climbing up the steepest portion of the dirt via the Jeep Trail and those descending it are in the double digits.
Still, the thought of climbing 3.36 miles averaging 10.5% didn’t seem like a well-thought out proposition, so we took the less popular route descending.
While the road was chunky in parts and you definitely are forced into using your gripping skills, the descent was more than palatable avoiding worn out arm typical of other downhills.
Surprisingly, I think we made the proper choice as climbing the Jeep Trail was doable, but I imagine the strain would wear you down exponentially.
After reaching Figueroa Mountain Road after the 4km climb out of Sunset Valley, we could have chosen a quicker way back going straight down Happy Canyon, but a lollipop route was more appealing staying in the higher elevations.
Compared to the earlier ascent in the opposite direction, this effort was relatively tame, but after 5k feet of climbing in the book and no water along the way, the smiles may not came as easily.
The great thing about California is most of our rides are accessible all year round, but this one you’ll want to catch in the spring because the green won’t be around for long.